Obviously, not all retail partnerships work like this. But, I do feel like the typical starting point can be pretty adversarial. And the balance of power is definitely with the retailer.
I was in a retail meeting recently, and the category director explained how they tier the meeting rooms. "The little ones by the lobby are for people we don’t like, the ones in the main floor are for people we like OK, and we never, ever bring suppliers up to our floor. I don’t even want them to know what I think." Fortunately, we weren’t meeting in the lobby when he told me this.
I’ve been fortunate to work with many buyers who are willing to break some of the rules, and think about partnerships in the true sense. Target is one of the best at this. But, why does that seem the exception, not the rule? So many retailers seem to look at brands purely on a transactional basis, I think they can miss the bigger opportunity.
On another note, I always liked that Animal House quote, "thank you sir, may I have another?"