This week Clarkston sponsored the Promotion Optimization Institute (POI) Summit in Chicago where leading consumer brands, retailers, and industry analysts shared trade marketing trends and insights. Participants ranged from global brands such as Procter & Gamble, Kraft, and McCormick & Company, to grocery and convenience retailers such as Tops and 7-Eleven, to leading trade solution providers such as SAP, Oracle, and Demand-Tec. Gartner opened the event with a compelling vision of the future in their portrayal of personalized promotion offers and the steps companies can take to prepare for this future marketing state. This set the stage for many great presentations on a host of topics.
We gathered several key insights, captured in the following summary themes:
The Trade Journey
While consumer brand marketers once aspired to capture the trade optimization brass ring, most have reset their expectations, realizing that optimization is a journey, not a final destination. Somewhere along the way, a mythical destination was created where hordes of data are magically captured, organized, translated, synthesized, analyzed and applied to achieve grand optimization goals; sales and marketing organizations readily adopt complex practices and processes; retailers consistently and uniformly collaborate to achieve the greatest ROI across multiple categories; and IT organizations simply flip a switch to make it all possible. A common and clear message rang true among presenters and participants: chasing this brass ring is an ongoing and tenuous journey. Meaningful rewards are to be had, but a deliberate, disciplined, patient approach focused on continuous improvement is the only path to success.
Collaborate and Innovate
Not only do retailers demand that brand partners collaborate and innovate, consumer brand teams must collaborate within their own organizations to be effective partners with their retail customers. Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) and Integrated Business Planning (IBP) were mentioned in many presentations as critical disciplines in a collaborative trade model. While these concepts are in no way new to consumer brands, they continue to gain footing and relevance in effective and efficient organizations. Innovation is likewise not a new topic, but its relevance continues to rise on the retailer’s strategic agenda. Promotions innovation was featured as a key differentiator that consumer brands can offer their retail customers, and both parties stand to gain incremental margins through smart promotions analysis and execution.
Making Data Relevant
We have been talking about the growing volumes of data for the past few years, and our attention now shifts to the methods and technologies to harness and analyze this data. One of the interesting discussions around data was the challenge of capturing and maintaining field sales inputs. While many solutions offer user-friendly, streamlined methods for planning, entering, managing, and analyzing trade events, sales users still resist new processes and tools. More than once, presenters urged participants to “train, train, train, and train some more; and keep training after that,” serving as a great testament to the challenges of user adoption.