The relationship between supermarkets and the brands they stock is a delicate one. By using data from its own direct selling site, GSK is hoping to boost its in-store performance, and I expect more brand owners to do the same.
Because they are the brand’s route to market and the connector between consumers and products, supermarkets appear to have the upper hand.
Not only are they the stockist, supermarkets are also the competition.
Own brand offerings such as Tesco Value and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference are direct competitors to the FMCG brands they stock.
In effect, in order to ensure shelf space for upcoming NPD, brands are required to reveal their strategy plans to the competition.
In a slightly roundabout way, this brings me to my point about the way GSK is using its own data from direct selling to influence its relationship with retailers.
The FMCG company launched GSK Direct in September last year. While obviously an ecommerce venture, its main function was to help the company understand shopping behaviours better, improve its marketing and its in-store presence.
GSK has no desire to become an online retailer, but it knows that there is an appetite for both products and information online and so by providing a service to customers that want to buy directly, it is also furnishing itself with real time information about how consumers interact with its products, what they look for and what brands they buy together.
This can go on to inform its retail partners and shape the in-store retail strategy.
While GSK is the first consumer healthcare company to run its own ecommerce operation in the UK, Procter & Gamble has a similar operation in the US and a number of brands have taken to Facebook as an ecommerce arena.
It makes perfect sense for brand owners to become more like retailers, not to usurp traditional retailers or steal away customers but to grow their own understanding and boost performance on both sides.