Driving sales and moving product off the shelves is what Sue Klug helps retailers do. This, the Unified Grocers SVP and CMO reveals, allows retailers to win in the competitive marketplace. And, when Unified’s retailers win, so does the co-op, she says.
Klug spoke with The Shelby Report’s Bob Reeves during Unified’s Expo 2013 this week and said her department—the Retail Marketing Services team—are “fully deployed to help retailers drive their volume.”
“We very much will assist them, and we have a variety of off-the-shelf services that we can partner with them on. We have a variety of projects…helping them figure out how to compete against a dollar store, how to compete against Walmart. We’ll help them with those strategies.”
Creating consumer demand and ultimately getting product into shoppers’ baskets is done through a number of ways.
“Social marketing, digital, websites,” Klug noted. “Many of our retailers don’t have the infrastructure to really dive into that world and that new technology so Unified gets very involved through my team and helping retailers speak to their customers in different ways to either drive traffic into the store or put more into their basket.”
Scan data is another tool Unified is making available to its retailers.
“Many of the small retailers that we serve don’t utilize scan data in the same ways that the chains do,” Klug said. “The chains, in the last 20 years, have become increasingly sophisticated in the area of using scan data to drive top-line sales.
“Our retailers, most of them can’t afford the infrastructure to figure out how to create those databases and deal with that big data in meaningful ways so Unified has invested in an approach that allows us to take scan data on behalf of our retailers and help them understand how they can move their own sales, drive their own sales, by virtue of better understanding of what is selling, what’s not selling, what could be selling, where they have void issues, where they have out of stocks.
“The thing that I love about that is it’s not like we’re on the cutting edge of anything,” she added. “We’re taking chain strategies—tried, proven, they work, no worries—and we can provide this infrastructure.”
Klug explains that independent retailers are innovative. She says marrying that innovation with Unified’s available services—like scan data and infrastructure—creates a sort of magic.
Connecting CGPs and the Hispanic marketplace
Unified serves hundreds of Hispanic markets—meaning the role it plays as the connection between CPG companies and those retailers is important.
“CPG companies want access to that Hispanic shopper base,” Klug said. “No one and no where in the country can provide the Hispanic access that Unified can provide to that broad base of Hispanic customers and that broad base of Hispanic stores. So, if a CPG company is saying ‘how do I really get more involved in the Hispanic market,’ Unified is the perfect solution.”
Unified works with CPGs to figure out how to create what Klug calls “smart advertising and smart promotions.”
“There’s so many emerging categories and emerging brands and they know that the Hispanic consumer is a part of their strategy. They just don’t often know how to get to them effectively,” she said.
Unified serves as what could be referred to as the “go-between.”
“A CPG company is never going to get to the retailer, but a CPG is going to get to Unified and Unified’s going to say ‘I have 400-plus Hispanic stores that reach X number of Hispanic shoppers every week.’ And if you’re trying to get your product onto those shelves and begin to connect with that consumer, Unified can offer that opportunity, Klug said.
The soy milk category is a segment Klug examples. She says Unified has been working with a company that is “big in the soy milk category.”
“They know the Hispanic shopper would be a real target for their product, but they don’t know how to begin to approach the market,” she said. “Do they sample? Do they coupon? Do they Facebook? What do they do? We really help large CPGs connect. And we’re going to put increased focus on that because nobody gives them the access to the Hispanic shoppers and these Hispanic stores like we do.”