The countdown is on for the Golden-Quarter, officially starting in early October, with the first major event being Halloween. But as we all know Christmas ranges will start to appear in stores from the beginning of September, replacing the summer events such as Olympics and any promotional activity.
With competition set to be fiercer than ever before, brands need to ensure their products are visible and available on the shelves of the Big Four during the Golden-Quarter. So what are the golden rules for the golden quarter? Retail sales expert, Cathy Evans from Tactical Solutions, shares her top tips for being prepared.
- Find Your Perfect Match
“Dependent on a product offer it’s important to understand which event during the Golden Quarter will suit your brand to create the most impact and maximise those all important sales opportunities. This is not to say you should put all your eggs in one basket, however instead of diluting your message and trying to have a strong presence in all the key moments in the Golden Quarter, choose one key moment that your brand complements the best.
“This way you can maximise all your marketing efforts to create a truly impactful campaign that the consumer will be interested in. For example, if you’re a drinks brand, don’t make Halloween and Bonfire Night fit for your brand, instead focus your efforts on the Christmas shop, usually starting a week before December 25.
- The Early Bird Catches the Worm
“This is probably one of most important things to get right at this time of year, but so often forgotten about. In the run up to the Golden Quarter, the amount of stock and product coming through each store is more than doubled, turnover is vast and the increasing numbers in range can often be confusing for many teams at store level, if they are not educated on what is to be expected over the next four months.
“With more products to organise, store and shelve, it would usually be expected that more labour would be recruited, unfortunately due to the currently economic client and poor annual results from the Big Four, recruiting more staff for this cover is off the cards.
“This creates a real challenge for brands to be loved, gain the attention they needs from the consumer and be the product that is focused on at the point of execution.
“By brands having field support is key to this solution, however there are other process that can be actioned too such as intelligent SRP, which will help stores with replenishment during the busier times, use of pre-filled shippers again to aid replenishment and volume onto the shop floor, smooth supply and its processes so that stores have less gaps to resolve, which in itself runs the risk of competitors stealing this space and taking the essential sales away from a brand’s product.”
- Create Your Own Masterpiece
“So many brands and retailers forget about the essential need for in-store theatre, you want to create an experience that is visual and engaging. It needs to entice the consumer away from another brand. For example at Christmas time, Coca Cola and Cadbury’s get the seasonal display trains out, which is set to continue as stores and now stores and shoppers have become so accustomed to this that it now expected on an annual basis. What this does is secures the valuable space that brands need during the Golden Quarter, in an exciting and unique display to catch the customers eye.
“Unfortunately, not all brands can afford this so they need to think of effective yet affordable activities, such as Branded POS, standout packaging, clever impulse buys at checkout units depending on category – all of this is key for brands to be considering their strategy for this for the next four months. Ultimately there are more products in store, bigger investment from big brands and busier shops – brands can easily go unnoticed unless they don’t stand out, therefore what might seem like a ‘fun’ and ‘silly season’ activity, can actually have the most impact when it comes to attracting the attention of the consumer.”
- One Big Happy Family
“More often than not, by the time September comes around brands have forgotten about its all year round products and dedicate all of their time and attention on the Golden Quarter ranges. All year round products often take second focus at this time of year, however this is the time to shine, there are more customers in-store, with a greater mindset to spend. Therefore brands must ensure their all year round products are geared up for this activity and that initiatives to promote these products is implemented just as much as the seasonal ranges.
“As shoppers often trade up at Christmas this offers a great opportunity for brands to gain penetration across its portfolio as long as there is activity and good visibility across these SKU’s, a strong execution plan will help deliver this and will ensure that all products generate the visibility and results that are required to be a success.”
- Future Proof
“Over the last few years, throughout the Golden Quarter period, there has been a significant decline in product volume seasonal produce within the Big Four supermarkets. This is largely driven by the rise of the discounters, value channel and online retailers, with last year being one of the toughest for the brands, and this outlook is set to continue for years to come. Therefore brands need to consider this as part of their strategy and execution plan for the period.
“If brands want to win at Christmas they must have a multi-channel strategy that cover all areas, the chances of winning on the shelves of solely the Big Four is not optimistic.
“Customers are now used to shopping across each channel and will look to these areas, especially the value channel, throughout the Christmas period when overall consumer spending increases and shoppers look to manage their spend through research and discount. This is key for FMCG goods and is crucial for a brand to survive in this competitive period and retain its position for the following year.