Stores, shops, supermarkets. The places where products and brands fight for shelf-space, positioning, and visibility. In these locations the impact of companies’ marketing and advertising campaigns is ultimately tested in the form of consumers’ purchasing decisions. Habits, trends, and the appeal of “the new” are constantly in flux in the minds of consumers. Consumer driven in-store audits help to check what is happening in the minds of those who buy, and how that is aligned with the company’s retail execution.
Reckitt Benckiser is a global British company with history of over 150 years in health, hygiene and home products. Having solid roots in the FMCG business, the company has a variety of strong brands in its portfolio. These brands include Clearasil, Dettol, Durex, Cillit Bang, Scholl, Vanish and Finish. These products belong to consumer product categories such as Insoles, Dishwasher tablets, Air care, Household detergents and Stain removal. Consequently, the products are offered to consumers on carefully defined shelves in major retail chains.
Drivers of retail execution
“We have our own field force, but they are not able to visit all stores across the country within a short period of time. Visiting stores on our own to source information on our retail execution also comes with a cost”, says Tuomas Piirtola, Country Manager at Reckitt Benckiser Finland. Why it is so important to see the shelves in different stores? One aspect are the contracts signed with retail chains. Is the shelves space given in stores in line with the agreement? Or would the sales figures justify a better shelf spot? “We want to know how our products are placed on the shelves, also when compared to our competitors’ products. This knowledge gives us vital information on the consumer perspective, and a better position to develop the dialogue with our retail partners”, Piirtola continues.
Another important factor is competitor intelligence; how are competitors’ products are placed, and what types of in-store campaigns are they running? “In stores, consumers and products meet. We need to track constantly how consumers discover and meet our products, and also stay tuned to what our competitors are doing”, Piirtola comments. “Naturally, seeing the consumer view is also crucial when tracking the success of our own campaigns.”
In-store audits and checks
Consumers play an essential role, providing an un-assisted evaluation of how discoverable, visible, and attractive the products are in stores compared to competition. Professional field force knows what to seek, where to find the campaigns, and how the products should be placed. Consumers are not influenced by this knowledge, and their view count because they are the ones who buy. Piirtola welcomes the external consumer view; “Without direct consumer feedback, customer comments and pictures taken in stores, it is impossible to know how consumers see products and retail execution”.
“The responses and pictures we have sourced using Crowst have enabled us to optimize our field execution and consequently our ROI.”
Crowst collaborates with Reckitt Benckiser to provide the consumer angle across various retail chains in Finland. Crowsters, the real consumers of Crowst, visit the selected stores, answer the questions and take photos of the shelves as instructed. “It’s true that pictures tell more than a thousand words”, Piirtola comments and smiles. “The responses and pictures we have sourced using Crowst have enabled us to optimize our field execution and consequently our ROI.”
Case “Roosa nauha”
Reckitt Benckiser ran a product related Roosa nauha (Pink ribbon) campaign for a good cause; to express support for women with breast cancer. The campaign included a financial support element for The Cancer Foundation, which was included in the product’s sales price. Reckitt Benckiser worked with Crowst to include the consumer perspective on the campaign execution in different pharmacy and FMCG retail chains.
“We found the data very interesting indeed, it gave us a channel-specific comparison point where the campaign was strongly executed, and where we still were able to improve and how”, Piirtola points out. “Exactly the kind of information we need to do things better and more efficiently to keep our leading position in the market.”