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In order to run a successful department, the manager of a typical retail meat department makes many merchandising and marketing decisions, foremost to which are the elements of the famed 4 P’s of marketing: products; price; promotional/advertising strategy; and place (i.e., distribution method).
Dependent upon accurate and timely market information to make the appropriate above decisions, meat managers can invariably sell the right products at the right price using the right promotional strategy. But overall success with the collective effort can be more readily realized with an internal market research study, which can gather relevant information needed to help meat managers decide the optimum use of the four P’s, based on input from current department clientele.
The manager can begin with an informal market research campaign by simply talking to customers and asking the right questions. Even though the campaign is informal, the manager must make sure to be consistent with the questions, and document the answers for 4-P follow-up analysis, such as:
- What do you think of the products we are offering? Are you satisfied with the variety? How about the freshness and quality? Are there some products you would purchase more often that are not sold in our store?
- What do you think of our prices? Which products do you think are overpriced? What products would you buy more of if they were cheaper? Do you buy some meats at other stores because they are cheaper there?
- What do you think of the posters and promotional information in our department? Do you find that the information to be clear and helpful? Do you read it? Would you like to have a certain information display or chart placed in the department? Where do you look for information about what meats to buy?
- Do you think home delivery would encourage you to shop more here? Are you willing to pay for delivery? How much?
Know Thy Competition
Next, competitive information on the above four marketing elements must be gathered from the local competing meat departments. Prices and quality must be compared to see where you stand.
Just by looking at the answers to the products questions might enlighten the manager to good products that a competitor is selling, or what products are perceived as low quality.
The answers to the pricing questions will help determine the right price that will move the volume that will generate the maximum profit. The customer answers might reveal that the prices are too high on certain products, which can shed light on items that may be generating a high margin but low volume.
The promotional information may reveal that the customers are not even looking at the posters and ads in the department. Maybe they are not properly positioned, or too confusing/obscured to understand.
The distribution information may reveal that there are many people who would buy bulk quantities on a monthly basis if home delivery was offered.
It’s all about information. Properly conducted market research will be worth the effort and help put the department in line with customer needs and expectations. That’s the key to a profitable meat department.
Ronnie P. Cons is EVP of C&C Packing Inc., a leading Canadian meat and poultry distributor. He can be reached at 514-461-5202 or [email protected].