Why is this here?
I’ve seen some strange merchandising strategies over the last 20 years in the CPG industry. A beverage cooler next to the restrooms, or beer display in the diapers section (actually, that might make more sense than I realize). Like the slide in this picture, I’m sure there is a reason. Wouldn’t you love to know how this slide was installed to feed into a road? I’ll assume positive intent.
When it comes to retail, I love trying to understand the rationale for displays. Usually, you can come up with some idea of how a store manager agreed to the space. “This is the only space in the store”, “Give it a try, we can move it later” are common responses I get during market tours. There is a new trend around building a “solution” or “story” with a display. Lay’s potato chips with Pepsi. Tortilla chips with local salsa. Unlike endcaps, beverage cooler placement gets a little tricky. They are hard to move, require electrical wiring and space is often paid for by manufacturers or distributors. A cooler sitting next to the restroom at Food Lion, likely doesn’t deliver much ROI. Or does it?
Conventional wisdom might also tell you that a beverage cooler on aisle 4 next to the door outperforms aisle 3 next to tobacco. Or a cooler AFTER the checkout outperforms a cooler located in the pharmacy area. Or a cooler in a convenience store placed next to the front door is better than on the coffee counter?
We use A LOT of conventional wisdom in the CPG industry when it comes to making decisions regarding big investments around cold equipment. We really need to use more data. The stakes are getting too high to rely on conventional wisdom.
It is what it is…
If you are in the beverage industry and invest in cold equipment that is deployed across retail, you have likely wrestled with the scenarios painted above. We have been so fixated on obtaining cold equipment at all costs, however, now the costs start to matter. Retail is not perfect and optimal placement for expensive coolers is not always available. Assuming we even know what “optimal” is when determining placement. Often, we invest millions in equipment, placement fees and labor to install and service coolers simply to achieve an objective without the data needed to fully assess the ROI. “If it’s cold, it’s sold” becomes the mantra, does anyone ask the question “how much do we sell?” Often, after we gain placement, spending thousands, we resign ourselves to the complacency described as “It is what it is”. At least we achieved our objective.
Let’s start a movement…
No longer should we make cooler placement decisions without the data to support the investment. We shouldn’t have to place our coolers next to restroom or after the register in grocery store or next to the lotto machine. Unless… THE DATA supports the move. Resources are so valuable today to execute our brands at retail, we simply can’t afford to take our eye off the ball by placing coolers in places that don’t produce. Today, is Independence Day!!!!
Did anyone ask How we are going to do this?
I guess it would be helpful to have tools to get the data needed to make these decisions. Fortunately, the development of AI-Image Recognition and IoT is here with companies like Vision IoT, a part of the Vision Group, which installs technology that captures store level shopper behavior data. This revolutionary technology can garner the shopper interaction data needed to understand the true ROI of a cooler placement. Data inputs range from tracking how many time a cooler door is opened during a specific time of day, to what items are sold. Imagine driving assortment decisions by cooler! Aisle 4 sells water and tea while aisle 3 sells energy drinks. Or the cooler we placed near the front door outperforms the cooler in aisle 5, I should renegotiate my placement fees.
In the words of Yogi Berra… “You can observe a lot by watching”. When you have implemented technology like Vision IoT, you can make ROI based decisions on what the machine is watching.
For more information on asset tracking and centrally connecting assets, visit visiongroupretail.com and contact us.
Mike is a 26+ year veteran of the CPG industry with experience across food, beverage, OTC, HBA and General Merchandise. Holding Sales, Marketing and Commercial leadership positions within top tier companies such as Gillette, P&G, Pfizer Healthcare, Red Bull, Mars/Wrigley, Dean Foods and Bang Energy. Specializing in building and executing enterprise wide go to market strategies for startups and scaling CPG companies with support across Sales, Marketing, Distribution, HR, Finance, Operations and Supply Chain.