(A quick groveling note to any retail buyers I work with who may be reading: this cartoon was entirely inspired by anecdotes from other people (my competitors actually). So, please, please, pretty please don't discontinue my products. OK, Partner?)
Now that the fearful groveling is out of the way, I've been thinking a lot about retail in the context of the credit crunch lately. Consumers are obviously looking to brands and retailers for solutions.
This is tough, because I'd classify many retailer/manufacturer "relationships" as transactional, not really relationships at all. And those transactions can be pretty combative. It's often centered on the negotiation: each side trying to grab a larger slice of the pie. It's rarely driven by growing the collective pie, which takes creativity on both sides.
I recently came across this telling vignette on the "Tug of War Brewing Over Food Prices." It gives a glimpse of the standard back-and-forth between retailers and manufacturers.
This is true in the best of times. But, it's particularly true when times are tough. Which, ironically, is when there is the greatest need for creative new thinking. Brands and retailers need to rethink their role for consumers.
My favorite manufacturer/retail collaboration on "increasing value" is still the innocent big knit promotion at Sainsbury's, which I've blogged about before and is just starting to hit shelves again. Increases value to both innocent and Sainsbury's (and helps a nice cause to boot). Win win win (as you'll see from this short video featuring my friend Andrew learning to knit).
On a related note, I'm speaking at a conference in a couple weeks on marketing in a credit crunch. If you happen to have any other suggestions or ideas on ways to "increase value", rather than just "lower price", please leave a comment on this post. I'll send out a free book for the most useful post received by next Monday, November 10th.