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Part 1

A Guide to Surviving the Golden Quarter for Retail Brands

Christmas in August is not an uncommon concept for retailers and FMCG brands, even though it only ever feels like yesterday that December 25 was here. Yet thanks to growing consumer demand and competition, the annual countdown to Christmas in the FMCG sector has already started.

But are retailers and brands ready for the preparation of the next coming months, in the lead up to what is more commonly known as the ‘Golden Quarter’? We take a look at how the next five months should look for a retailer and brand, to ensure they get maximum results from this peak sales period.

From October to December it is the Golden Quarter, it usually starts around Halloween and progressively getting more intense throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas, but also including January as well. Therefore brands and retailers need to see these next two – three months as a window of opportunity, to be fully prepped and organised for the trading rush.

As we know from Christmas results of 2014, consumers were late to purchase, there was significant growth in local suppliers and discounters, and a substantial increase in online shopping. Plus with various peaks throughout the Christmas period, such as Black Friday, brands needs to ensure that there are formulated and well-structured plans in place from now until the end of the Golden Quarter.

We’ve broken down the next five months and to help prepare both retailers and brands.

September

July and August are usually a brand’s Christmas range showcase, so by September all choices and ranges should be ready to go live into stores. It’s at this time that a brand needs to confirm that its delivery and speed of distribution is not only working efficiently and effectively, but that any errors and misjudgements of stock are resolved quickly before the season hits its peak trading periods.

September is also the most likely time that ranges will start to appear in stores, placed in the dedicated Christmas aisles. Therefore by this time plans need to be in-place to ensure that retailers can secure the additional space early enough to guarantee that specific brands and dedicated seasonal lines receive the most availability and visibility.

It is vital that a brand ambassador who visits each store is ensuring they have early engagement with the store manager and team to capture these discretionary space and flexible feature opportunities. What might not seem like a competitive time is actually quite the opposite. Engage with the store teams and regional directors; offer key incentives, which aid not only their store but the brand too. Getting this period finalised and well executed will place a brand in the best possible position for the rest of the season.

By the end of this month a brand should have the majority of its Christmas range launched into store, distribution, delivery channels and processes confirmed and finalised, all additional seasonal SKUs confirmed and finally, a brand must have secured or agreed to as much additional space for its Christmas range as possible.

Ready for the next stage? Head to Part 2 to find out about the next crucial stages.