Buyer’s Diary

== monday ==

The Met Office has withdrawn its ‘barbecue summer’ predictions and forecasts stormy weather for most of August, amid claims that ‘seasonal forecasting’ is a difficult thing to do. Now they tell us!

Depot sales to the end of July were on a par with last year but we anticipate sales will fall dramatically unless there is a major improvement in weather patterns.

It is a brave move on the part of Nestl eacute; to re-formulate its recipe for KitKat and promote it as ‘part of a balance diet’. Great that they should provide a six-pack specifically for the independent trade but how will regular consumers react to what Nestl eacute; describes as ‘a really positive step forward’? Who will start the ‘Don’t mess with my KitKat’ campaign? Oh, and why mess with an Oxo cube for the sake of a TV talent show. What on earth will they call it? An Oxo polygon?

The launch of Strathmore Twist adds further interest to the flavoured water market as Britvic claims a major success for Drench Juicy flavoured spring waters, selling over 1.3 million bottles in just 10 weeks. With a pound;5.5m marketing spend in 2009 we would be fools not to back them and a further pound;4m investment on TV and digital advertising for the new look J2O gives us every reason to get behind Britvic.

The Mars ‘1in10 chance to win a DVD’ is an attractive range promotion that will capture peoples imagination. Based on 10 lines with each promotional pack offering a 1 in 10 chance to win, the odds of getting a top title DVD look good.

== tuesday ==

With the appointment of store-based dedicated community champions, Tesco is out to demonstrate it is ‘proud to be supporting our local community’.

Local and proud of it, ‘eh! Just a minute, that rings a bell? (Alan Toft please note). Our ‘champion’ will attend school assemblies, organise pupil visits to the store and support school and community events – it turned up at our school’s sports day where the children, bless ’em, were no doubt encouraged by the on-site ‘Every little helps’ advertising board. The icing on my cake this week is a pound;5 voucher off a pound;25 shop to spend at my ‘local and proud of it’ Tesco store. Another pound;20 worth of money-off vouchers from the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday equates to a discount of 23%, revealing just how much Tesco needs the business.

Nestl eacute;’s ‘Go Free’ promotion returns but its pound;600,000 spend on radio and digital advertising looks a bit thin for this fun-filled family activity programme. It is a pity you can’t combine the cereal vouchers and sweet wrappers to achieve qualifying targets. The family will have to consume 20 packets of breakfast cereal to enjoy a seven-minute spell at go-karting.

== wednesday ==

When it comes to saving money, ‘every Lidl helps!’

They, Aldi and other discounters, have become a powerful force. Some commentators are saying this is a tough time for discounters. No. The car parks are busier, shopping trolleys fuller and checkout queues longer. Saving money has become a popular pastime. I am a cash and carry man, aware and alarmed by the impact discounters are having on the overall market. The Grocer Discounters Conference on 29 September promises to reveal all. What chance a discount on the pound;500+ entry fee?

Pub closures have increased dramatically over the past few months so Nielsen’s gloomy prediction that take-home beer consumption will exceed on trade volumes by early next year comes as no surprise.

Pubs with a strong food offer are less vulnerable so what can we do to help our customers improve their proposition?

Half-year success at Cadbury’s is down to milk chocolate rather than chewing gum as recession-hit consumers find comfort in its giant chocolate buttons and Wispa bars.

The launch of Wispa Gold and a new ‘refreshing’ gum are keenly awaited. Congratulations for going Fairtrade on CDM and supporting the cocoa farmers of Ghana. I hope you are paying UK dairy farmers a fair price for the milk!

== thursday ==

The buying office is quiet this holiday period but the team are working hard pulling together our Christmas package.

Most buying decisions have been taken although we are concerned by January’s VAT revision which Chancellor Darling insists must happen. No problem for us but a massive task for independent retailers.

We support The Grocer’s ‘Put back the Tax’ campaign but believe the increase should be delayed indefinitely. Duty increases on drinks and tobacco should be postponed. Will the Chancellor listen?

As ever, drinks suppliers are slow to react to our needs for Christmas and with one less major brewer to negotiate with following the merger between InBev and Anheuser Busch, and enormous pressure on advertising spend, we are under some pressure to realise the same level of promotional investment this time around. Our retailers need a much stronger retail proposition this year. Independents are capable of achieving much higher drinks sales over the festive period and we need them to focus on range, pricing, in store merchandising and effective advertising to build footfall into their stores.

== friday ==

Come rain or shine, Coca-Cola’s on-pack mobile phone credit promotion has got to be one of the most imaginative deals of the year.

A 50p top-up with every can or bottle purchase of Fanta, Sprite and Dr Pepper should deliver a substantial boost to sales and we are making it a major feature in depot and our retail club promotion programme.

Canned carbonated energy drinks are under attack from high energy stimulant health shot drinks like Voltz and Pocket Rocket, both offering a quick acting, longer lasting boost. The wife says I might benefit from an energy stimulant at the weekend myself.

Asda recently revealed that range rationalisation has helped it increase sales and profitability. It’s a lesson we cash and carry operators need to learn, and fast! We can no longer carry every pack size and every variety. The buyer’s role is becoming more confused by our willingness to meet every retail and catering eventuality. Stop there a moment! Are we trying to match multiple offerings? Surely not, so let’s get back to basics and align ourselves to a strong focused convenience offering.

We welcome the industry lead initiative ‘The Campaign for Smarter Drinking’ to deal with binge drinking.

The Government says that the Drinks Industry “has a responsibility” for tackling the problem of alcohol misuse.

Higher taxes on alcohol are undesirable, because they punish the many for the behaviour of the few.

We hope that the campaign will, in the words of prime movers Diageo, ‘help to change attitudes of this deep-rooted cultural issue’.

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