Wide choice is the best way ahead

With reference to Alan Mitchell’s piece “Time for all to embrace ECR’s logic” (MW January 31), the problem is one of sagging profits, as too many retailers chase an inelastic consumer purse. This purse is unable to keep up with the cost of the retailers’ reckless expansion of outlets, price-cuts and costly loyalty schemes.

The long-suffering brand manufacturers have gone as far as they can go to help fund this over-heated competitive battle.

But now, along comes ECR, based on the theory that all retailers and brand manufacturers can work together, sharing information and knowledge so products may be offered to consumers at a “better” price.

However, a key result of this “partnership” is a marked reduction in brand choice and marketing support. Money spent “unnecessarily” on npd, advertising, sales promotion, point of sale and PR may be better employed reducing prices.

It is probably right at this time for me to confess to being a supporter of ECR in its purest form – the basic principle being to provide the consumer with brands “better, faster, and at less cost”.

By all means make every component of getting a brand into production, and then into the consumers’ hands, accountable for making a profitable constitution to all involved parties.

But let’s not be seduced away from the need to offer the consumer a wide variety of choice in both product type, price, selling approach and presentation.

At it currently stands, ECR is being warmly welcomed by the “big boys”. But those companies only constitute a part of total consumer purchasing. Thousands of other brands need retail outlets to present their propositions to the consumer.

Alan Mitchell asked an important question in his article: “Who says that consumers want 1,500 different lines of yellow fats, 149 alcopops and 360 variants of hair styling products?” Well, Alan, I can enlighten you on that- the consumer says so. If they don’t the products don’t stick around for long. But even if some do, so what? Do we really want restricted brand availability, and restricted to the big boys to boot? Do we really want a regimentation of choice and presentation?

Nevertheless, if the consumer demand for ECR is there you will not find us wanting.

Mike Leeves




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