We recently pitched for a new client relationship in the home market and during that process I realised quite how much we knew about retail. Which is at its most compelling when you consider we were sitting in front of a brand not a retailer.

Our beliefs and understanding are built on three interrelated areas – the shopper’s relationship with the brand, the brands relationship with the retailer and the retailer’s relationship with the shopper – all flowing seamlessly between each other. Three simple words Shopper – Brand – Retail.

But as I began to talk about Retail it dawned on me that our spectrum of consideration is actually incredibly broad and leads to a partnership with a client that delivers two immortal words – listings & sales.

Our approach is rigorous and can seem a little intrusive – stepping onto the hollowed ground of the sales team – but our results speak for themselves and it’s why we build long lasting relationships.

Determining a sustainable strategy for a brand involves a lot of listening and observing and when we think about a brand we use the three R’s – Retail safari, Retail relationship and Retail story.

Retail safari is our strategic tool to analyse & explore the retail environment – essentially what its like to shop for a brand (on & offline). Done collaboratively with the client, we see what a shopper sees as they journey towards the shelf, the product & the till. We explore the competitive context, the category rules (so we know which ones to break) and also look to other categories for inspiration.

Retail relationship – Now we focus on the brands relationship with the retailer as a customer (which obviously varies by the retailer). Talking to the sales team, we glean what the key drivers to purchase are – we can’t influence the commercials or the product but we can influence the reason to list the brand and the reason that those retailers’ shoppers should be given access to the brand. Crucially, we build relationships with the sales team as all our experience shows any changes or developments to the brand need to have the sales team on board to enable you to take the retailer on the journey with you.

Finally the Retail story – even down to what do the sales assistants think. The degree to which we explore this avenue largely depends on the category – in high-ticket items they can be a valuable source of knowledge and often an amazing source of shopper insight.

The results of this analysis are twofold – a more compelling commercial story to gain listings built on a compelling story for that retailer to increase sales.

Sue Benson – Managing Director