Looking back into our industrialized past, the most defining moments for growth and prosperity occurred with increases in our ability to connect with each other. From smoke signals to the Pony Express, the railroad, the automobile, the modern highway system, the telephone, the fax machine, cell phone, internet and now the smart phone – humans strive to connect with each other in faster and more efficient ways. Every time there is advancement in connection, there is a rapid change in productivity, growth and prosperity.
So what does this have to do with manufacturers, retailers and selling more products? It reminds me of the millions of dollars per account I would spend on CO-OP and/or MDF. The process seemed right. As a manufacturer, I would spend advertising money nationally and rely 100% on retailers to handle the local advertising. For the retailers, I would pay out relevant percentages of gross sales back to the retailer to be used to market and develop my brand within their stores and local areas.
But, are we still using smoke signals or have we evolved to the smart phone as it applies to CO-OP? Are we to think after years of shopping evolution combined with advancements in technology, the consumer acts the same today as they did 5, 10 or 15 years ago? Why haven’t we challenged or changed the CO-OP model?
Off in the distance I see two camps forming. Manufacturers cheering at the prospect of a change for CO-OP on one side and retailers ready to string me up for even uttering such change words on the other. So to help thwart the retail uprising and quell the manufacturer’s glees of joy, I think it is important for me to be clear. What I advocate is an evolution, not a revolution. CO-OP and MDF are good and needed. Manufacturers must take part and help retailers get their brands sold locally. That being said, I would like to point out that consumers’ buying patterns and their path-to-purchase has changed. Over 50% of consumers consult online resources before stepping foot into a retail location to buy.
It is time to rethink how CO-OP and MDF are spent so we all can sell more goods. With such large amounts of consumers using online as their primary information source, it is important for CO-OP and MDF to shift to these areas. Manufacturers and retailers should work together to ensure:
-SEO is deployed to ensure consumers can be led to the key features of a product as well as a local authorized retailer.
-Website visitors at the manufacturer and retailer web sites should be remarketed/retargeted.
-Customer loyalty programs in the form of email relationships should be established.
-All authorized retailers should have brand areas specific to the manufacturers sold on their websites.
Reallocate larger percentages of CO-OP money to online areas. Ensure the consumer experience is consistent at the manufacturer level as well as the retail level (whether big or small, local or national) and the consumer will reward you!
In the end, CO-OP is meant to create a connection between a manufacturer’s brand, the high quality local retailer and the end consumer with the goal of selling more. Now is the time to start changing how you spend CO-OP. Your valuable retailers will sell more of your goods to consumers hungry to learn about and buy more.