The importance of controlling supplier brands in-store

Refinery Marketing Communications


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July 22, 2015 | 5 min read

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Stocking leading supplier brands is an important factor for retailers creating credible destination categories in-store. Having a wide choice of brands can drive footfall and increase customer confidence in the retailer.

Balancing how a supplier brand wants its products displayed and ensuring the retailer brand doesn’t get lost in the shopping experience is an art, and when retailers get this balance right it can deliver huge benefits in terms of sales and customer stickiness.

In our experience, the more a retailer can control its shopping environment and convey that they, the retailer, are the conduits for a great choice of leading brands, the better.

But what does a retailer do when the supplier brand has the control and will only stock products in its own template/format? Examples of category power brands capable of driving this include Apple, Dyson and Karcher.

Who could imagine a floor care section without Dyson or a technology department without Apple?

Creating destination status for key categories is about giving core supplier brands a presence, yet controlling it. If the focus is too much about the brands, the customer can be left thinking “who’s selling to me here?” A myriad of brands and messaging left unmanaged by the retailer can be confusing and result in the shopper pondering product choice for too long.

The best retailers are those who achieve a logical choice of brands presented in a consistent way. And consistency doesn’t stop at the category, it’s storewide.

Encouraging trading up and creating bigger basket values

A controlled approach to brand communications in-store will make categories ‘easier to shop’.

Customers need to feel they are being guided with visual cues and informational signals that aid them to find what they are looking for. This is difficult to achieve without brands working in harmony with the retailer.

Consumers benefit from seeing a logical choice of products. Making it clear why certain goods have a higher price point than others speeds up the purchase decision process, leaving the consumer with time to browse, increasing basket values and reducing rates of return.

If consumers are allowed time and space to make informed choices it is more likely they will trade up and buy more.

We’ve seen this in practice with one of our clients, whose refresh of in-store environment and communications delivered a 20 per cent YOY uplift in sales.

A solid own-brand strategy in-store is also a vital part of the picture. Where own-brand sits in the correct place within the category hierarchy, with tightly controlled packaging and POS within the overall strategy.

John Lewis is a great example of how this can be achieved. The John Lewis environment remains constant no matter which department a customer visits; there is never any doubt that you are a “John Lewis customer” yet the market-leading brands are always present.

Similarly, PC World/Currys uses a fixtures template that brands have to work within, ensuring a consistent tone of voice and the presence of visual cues relevant to the category.

Creating in-store theatre

When overlaying the shopping experience with inspirational hot spots, having a joined up approach is still paramount. There is little point creating theatre if you can’t find what you want, or understand how products sit in the category hierarchy.

Consistency across digital and in-store experience

A coherent approach is needed so that stores offer the same customer experience in physical and virtual worlds. This is ever more important as beacon technology and digital touch points become part of the experience. It’s an area that surely must be controlled by the retailer in order to prevent a barrage of communications that would provide a confusing experience for any shopper.

Ultimately, it’s the retailer’s job to create an environment to inspire customers. While brands are integral to creating credible destination categories in store, the success stories come when a retailer controls effective messaging on POS and uses a consistent language that fits with the retailer’s brand positioning and communicates effectively with the consumer.

Jim Barron, Director, Refinery

Tel: 0161 273 5511



Twitter: @refinerygroup

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Refinery Marketing Communications

We’re Refinery, an independent branding and communications agency. We’re open minded, collaborative and put people at the heart of everything we do. We find that when the right people, with the right mindset, are brought together, good things happen. We make work that works, and believe that the simple truth, well told, lies at the heart of the most powerful brand messages. And though we are known for (and have particular knowledge of) communicating with retail and trade audiences, our clients are varied and diverse. They come to us with ambitions, eager for creative solutions, and expecting results. They stay with us because they get them.

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