Five Retail Leverage Predictions for 2010

By Vincent Young:

Whether you are the dominant brand player in your category or a challenger brand just trying to hold shelf position during a troubled economy, there are certain common realities that will bind us all in 2010. Some are current trends that will continue to increase in importance as the landscape of retail continues to evolve, while others reflect my humble opinion as an army of one.  So, without further adieu, I give you five Retail Leverage Predictions for 2010…

Five Retail Leverage Predictions for 2010:

1) The CMO Will Become the CCMO (Chief Customer Marketing Officer): It started years ago with opening price-point private labels, then we saw the premium positioning traditionally occupied by the leading national brands come under attack by the upscale “house-brand”- and then before any of us realized it, retailers themselves evolved from being simple margin-hungry supply houses to becoming incredibly influential consumer brand marketers themselves. With that change, marketing leaders (CMOs) of supplier brands to retail are forced to understand as much (if not more) about the retailers’ brand strategies as they know about their own stand-alone consumer brands. The implication here is huge – this means that, starting with the consumer and working backwards, brands who sell into retail will need to validate their consumer marketing strategies by proving that the supplier’s brand compliments and adds value to the overall brand goals of the retailer.

2) Creative Services Agencies Will Learn the Language of Retail: In 2010, a set of additional language will be added to the traditional “agency brief.” A description of the umbrella brand positioning & strategies of the key retailers that will sell your brand has to be relayed to the agency creative department as a way to insure that your messages, look, feel, and recommended programs not only support your individual brand architecture, but are also complimentary to the retailer’s overall brand approach. Creative agencies that fail to understand retail branding as the highest order of supplier brand hierarchy will lose billings to those who speak the language of retail.

3) It Will Take a Village to Make Social Networking a Relevant Marketing Tool for Retail Leverage: Let me give an example: I love sports, I love potato chips, I love beer, too! In the world of social networking, why do I then need to follow/track/keep-up with both Frito-Lay and Anhueser Bush in the world of Twitter and Facebook?  I shouldn’t have to – they should combine their efforts, partner with a national grocery chain and create ONE community for people looking for great tailgating ideas/new products/offers! Brands who partner with retailers to create and manage consumer “solution” based social networking strategies stand a much better chance of keeping consumers within the sprawling world of digital communities engaged. This will create totally new processes and paradigms for social networking administration, promotion, and advertising. But remember, the brand that gets it right and co-creates relevant sized social networking communities within partnership with retail gains a significant amount of leverage with the given retailer.

4) “Co-operative Planning” Content Will dominate Best Selling Marketing Publications: Currently, most marketing textbooks serve as roadmaps for how to build brand strategies and supporting marketing plans for the largely inexperienced.  The classic “Kotler” marketing instructions still apply and are sound for learning marketing in a pure environment. However, if your brand is a good or service sold via today’s world of retail where your brand is more like a building block that supports a retailer’s umbrella brand, then the classic approach will need a little tweaking. In 2010, the new “best seller” will be dedicated to providing strategic marketers with the tools, best practices, and measurement systems that allow for retail leverage strategies to become institutionalized within the standard marketing planning process.

5) The New “All-in-One” Brand Will Dominate the Retail Landscape: Historically, consumer brand managers had the ability to choose how to best position their brands within a given category – price, value, or premium were the traditional options available to brand marketers. In many cases today, retailers are looking to consolidate vendors while expanding their own brands across all of the traditional positioning lanes (not just opening price-point), thus driving national brands to become a niche player if its focus is only on one positioning segment. As a result, the new power brand will have to be able to generate volume across all three positioning segments in order to remain viable on-shelf. “Price-leading” national brands will be forced to become viable in higher-end segments, while historically premium national brands will be forced to make offerings within the lower-priced segments of most categories.


We will revisit these predictions as the year progresses and hope to provide examples of brands who are successfully adapting their go-to-market strategies and programs to reflect the ever-changing realities of retail in 2010. Feel free to share your examples of how you plan to increase your leverage with retail in 2010 and what predictions you have that have guided your thinking!


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