In the shopper marketing business, much revolves around the "sell-in."
In fact, the sell-in is one of the biggest things we do for our client, the shopper marketing manager. Retail program sell-in to the buyer, or, as we like to say, “our client's client,” is what makes possible that incremental store end cap, extra retail pallet, special store shipping — you name it. When the client's product is on retail display, it "turns" faster — driving penetration and loyalty. So, in a nutshell, if you don't get the sell-in, you can kiss those sweet marketing growth plans goodbye.
Developing a sell-in story for a Hispanic shopper program at major CPG companies and national retailers isn't always as easy as it seems. The buyers of large chains are hyper-focused on scale. Their mindset is far more national than local; therefore, they naturally gravitate toward generic market initiatives rather than specific Hispanic programs. The upshot is that the Hispanic sell-in to a retailer is sometimes more complex because there are larger forces in play. Of course, buyers prefer to keep things simple. On the other hand, buyers are also being evaluated on performance. Data don't lie. So often a closer examination of the figures will bring a specific Hispanic shopper need into sharper focus.
Example: In working with a national buyer for a large mass merchandiser, the challenge was to determine what the Hispanic shopper strategy should be across different seasons. To really understand what was going on, a data analysis of designated Hispanic stores vs. non-Hispanic stores was done with the buyer. From this a clearer picture began to emerge. During some seasons — but not all — designated Hispanic stores were lagging vs. the general market. The implication was self-evident: a new plan had to be formulated to juice sales in those specific underperforming seasons, particularly spring.
Delving deeper into this sales puzzle revealed that messaging was lacking. In other words, improvement was required in how seasonal opportunities were positioned with the Hispanic shopper. But the merchandising also needed work. For instance, throughout the Easter season the retailer had embraced the tactic of spring deals that would "make your house look great." Functional messaging is fine. Still, it was too narrow for the Hispanic shopper. What the retailer was missing was the opportunity to broaden the occasion's appeal. Rather than relying merely on "value cleaning," a better tactic was to elevate the occasion to its more relevant emotional benefits, e.g., "perfect family get-togethers." Broadening the meaning of the occasion meant hitting emotional buttons that delivered a more compelling familial reason for family-oriented Hispanic shoppers to shop.
Selling in a Hispanic program to a major buyer really revolves around these steps:
1. Do the legwork. Look at your category performance in Hispanic stores vs. non-Hispanic stores. What are your key insights?
2. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Shoppers — regardless of culture — shop for the seasons. Never forget that bedrock fact.
3. Find a way to make the occasion more culturally relevant by broadening, or, conversely, by narrowing the appeal. It's just common sense.
4. Merchandise creatively. What does the Latino basket look like? Ask yourself which are the highest-performing SKUs with Hispanic shoppers. Being creative means not overlooking cross-merchandising opportunities.
5. Execute well. Look for the cultural cues that make your re-interpretation more authentic. Most important: Be relevant
In the case mentioned above, opening up the positioning and keying on that emotional resonance set the stage a more impactful merchandising campaign in Hispanic stores. Broadening the appeal opened up two new areas of the store — grocery and home décor. Finally, by cross-merchandising those store sections and focusing on SKUs that had a Latino over-index, the retailer subsequently was well-poised to interpret spring quite differently for the Hispanic shopper — and without tossing a wrench into the retailer's larger go-to-market strategy.