If you’re a building product manufacturer bringing your products to market through big-box retailers such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and independent retailers, you’re already familiar with a process called a product line review — that often stressful season of making your case to the retailer to keep your product in the right place at the right time.
Once you have the information in hand to support your case, though, the process becomes much less stressful, and can even be more empowering to your teams.
Product line reviews are a standard part of doing business with big-box stores. They can be an excellent opportunity for brands to gain shelf space and increase sales. However, pulling off a successful review requires a solid understanding of your market and the ability to craft a compelling marketing pitch backed by internal data, secondary data, and custom research.
If you’re looking to collect insights and support research efforts for an upcoming product line review, data from the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) that is available to HIRI members will help you to make your case.
Since during a product line review, the supplier presents a product line to a retailer’s buying team, highlighting its features, benefits and unique selling points, the supplier needs to understand what the retailer’s core business objectives for the next year are.
The retailer’s buying team will then evaluate the products based on a variety of factors. Common factors include
Market demand (i.e., will this product drive foot traffic and online traffic for the retailer?)
Pricing (i.e., will the subsequent retail price of these products motivate or deter buyers based on the retailer’s own pricing strategy?)
Range of product options (like colors, materials, and styles)
How well the products fit within the retailer’s overall mix
To ensure your team is successful at product line reviews, be cognizant of the following:
Oftentimes, national account managers at large retailers lack an in-depth understanding of the competitive landscape of specific home improvement product categories, despite their own efforts to expand product offerings and sales across those same categories.
By presenting your case based on market research, you will be adding value to your retailers’ teams by supplying them with valuable data to bridge these knowledge gaps and assist retailers in making informed decisions.
Examples of market share information you can prepare include:
Category specific market size
Your share of the market
Your competitors’ shares
Retailer competitors’ shares
Retailer competitors’ weaknesses
Demand for various home improvement project types
The Home Improvement Research Institute’s U.S. size-of-market report is updated multiple times per year and may be a helpful place to start. This report gives category-level market size information. Use it before product line reviews to calculate your share of the market based on a combination of the size-of-market data and your company’s internal data. This will help you understand your position in the market and develop strategies to improve market share.
The size-of-market report also equips your analysts with important information about how the home improvement market and the U.S. economy are forecasted to perform in the near future. Coming to a product line review with the most relevant market level information as possible will help you negotiate the best outcomes because you and your teams are demonstrating that you are looking at the big picture about the success of your category as a whole — which is in the interests of the retailer.
While product line reviews should include information on the market as a whole, the case you’re making should also get granular with data that specifically supports your product line and this retail partnership.
HIRI’s Retail Selector Study gives a category-level breakdown of what drives DIY and professional contractor foot traffic to various retailers for 16 home improvement product categories and may be of help to you in that regard. The study explores retail shopping activity, the average amount spent, retailer purchase reason and satisfaction, cross-category purchasing behaviors and more. HIRI members are able to download the raw data to use in conjunction with internal data to prepare the most compelling visuals to support your claims.
This research will provide manufacturers with insights into what is driving foot traffic for your product category at different retail channels and help you develop strategies to increase sales at those retailers — that’s what your audience will want to hear more about. It can also provide insights into the shopping preferences of your product line and how these customers view the shopping experience so that you can propose collaborative solutions that serves the interests of the retailer as well as your own.
Coming to a product line review equipped with this information about customer shopping and purchasing behaviors will show retailers that you care about not only the success of your category but also how your product will affect their business.
It’s essential to come to a product line review with a marketing plan, not just a product plan. The product plan certainly can be easier to get a hold of and can appear to be more forward looking and innovative, but beware; retailers are looking for products that will sell well right now, and a marketing plan that outlines the expected demand for a product, and how that demand will be both created and captured, will be more compelling than the product roadmap alone.
With a HIRI membership, you can use customer-focused research to develop a data-backed marketing plan that showcases how your marketing and channel strategies are going to continue capturing shopper’s attention and result in continued unit sales.
HIRI provides stakeholders in the home improvement industry with data regarding the degree to which various mediums are used by DIYers and Pros to conduct project and product research, shop, and ultimately make a purchase. One mode of research is the category level studies from the overarching Product Purchase Tracking Study, which you can use to show retailers that you understand buyers’ purchase motivations and support the actions of your organization to align with buyers’ and increase sales.
Succeeding during product line reviews requires a solid understanding of the home improvement market and presenting a compelling marketing pitch backed by data and designed around the business interests of your retailers.
The home improvement industry specific research available through your HIRI membership will help you and your teams develop a data-backed case to present during your PLR.
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