Setting Your Food Aisle Straight
By Lindsey Wojcik
October 3, 2013

It’s no secret that pet parents are scrutinizing the food and treats they feed their furry friends with a savvier eye these days. With recalls, increasing pet food allergies and Max or Molly’s palate changing seemingly every other week, the onus has fallen on pet retailers to vet their food aisles the same way.

The market is chockfull of pet food, which may pose a challenge to a retailers looking to provide a healthful and nutritious variety of food on its shelves. For those retailers struggling to set or re-set their food aisles, Christine Hackett, owner of Petropics, which makes Tiki Cat and Tiki Dog gourmet food, has some advice.

“Retailers must continue to develop a tool for categorizing and sub-categorizing brands now that the majority of products on their shelf are now considered natural,” says Hackett.

 

 

Christine Hackett (right) with Petropics' manager Hannah Atkinson at Backer's Total Pet Expo.

 

 

Hackett adds that a good product categorizing tool which defines important similarities and points of differentiation will help a retailer in the following ways:

• Determine which items fall into the good, better, and best within each category and sub- category
• Develop guidelines for choosing new products to add to their assortment
• Identifying brands that should be expanded or contracted based on growth and strength trends of each brand within their assigned category
• Determine how much space should be allotted to each category based on space to sales movement
• Determine merchandise locations and prioritize brand positioning
• Develop advertising strategies based on these trends
• Build a story line for the products in their store
• Provide training materials for staff to communicate these categories to the consumer and the differences between them

Here’s a few more tips from Hackett:

Categorize: A great buyer develops strong tools to categorize and sub-categorize their business. Without categorizing and sub-categorizing, it is nearly impossible to analyze or enhance the performance of products on the shelf.

Analyze: They will then analyze their business within these categories to determine space to sales performance, margin performance, vendor allowances that need to be deducted from cost, price point analysis and other important factors, and will rank products and brands based on performance criteria within each category.

Actualize: They will then go out to the floor, merchandise products by grouping them within their product category. By prioritizing space based on the vision of the buyer and guided by the data provided through category analysis, products are organized within the store to realistically represent the products, brands and focus of the store.