Availability is just as important as choice

Again Alan Mitchell raises an uncomfortable subject for marketers (MW February 9). Less choice makes shoppers feel happier is something that is not just true in the world of jeans and mortgages.

Some fmcg categories also offer a level of choice that can cause consumer confusion at point of purchase. It is not necessarily the range extensions that are the problem, but the number of brands.

Next time you are shopping simply pick a category and search for duplication. I can immediately offer up cook-in sauces and jams as two categories where there are several brands offering the same varieties.

Retailers are beginning to switch on to this. Availability is at least as important as choice, and ⢔secondary” brands can be sacrificed if they threaten availability.

Having worked on categories where the five-year category vision is for 50% fewer stock keeping units I would urge all marketers to honestly appraise whether their brands offer a unique set of benefits that are genuinely required by a group of consumers. If the answer is no, then it is time to change commercial strategy, not just brand strategy.

Simon Hawkes

Director

Telescope

Lancashire

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