buyer’s diary

Monday

Anyone in marketing or sales watching the TV programme about major brands last week must have been impressed by the Red Bull story.

Like The Red Bulletin, its regular monthly publication in association with The Sunday Telegraph, this is a company ‘beyond the ordinary’. We can all learn from it.

Allure (n): Attract, charm, fascinate. Cadbury’s new limited edition Flake bar has all three in abundance, and for just 60p. The target audience are 18 to 45 year old females, apparently, but it’s a hit with me too.

How they got hold of my email address I just don’t know, but Asda Entertainment email me at least twice a week offering big discounts off music and PC games as well as summarising its latest grocery and licensed drinks offers. Ocado and Waitrose also regularly make contact but in spite of signing up to Tesco and Sainsbury online, neither has tried to sell me anything other than the now defunct Tesco Drinks store in Cite de Europe in Calais.

There was enough rain here on Sunday to scotch any thoughts of hosepipe bans and drought orders. Rumours of supply problems from one major brewer must, I think, be dismissed. We are not falling for that one.

Tuesday

Tesco trials of its so called ‘satnav’ service will help shoppers to find what they are searching for via their mobile phones and a 3D in-store directions map.

There are easier ways. At Waitrose recently, a member of staff walked the entire store with me to locate the lines on the shopping list I couldn’t find. Better still, customer services at my local Sainsbury raced me around the store to complete my shopping in record time after my ‘nearly full’ shopping trolley went missing. I’m sure I left it in the drinks section or was it pet foods?

My local Spar shop is supporting the group’s current wine festival offers, using shelf cards which show a so called ‘previous price’ to demonstrate value and the level of discount. Of course, these prices bear no resemblance whatever to the store’s actual previous price points and exaggerate some savings by pound;1 or more.

A pat on the back to Levi Roots and his Reggae Reggae Foods for an imaginative expansion from sauces and relishes into the soft drinks and snack food markets. Sales of his brands are growing and the future looks bright.

Wednesday

Weather forecasters are predicting a great summer with long sunny days and soaring temperatures.

Cash and carry always performs well in extreme weather conditions when people are inclined to do more shopping locally but given the squeeze on household budgets, can we really expect to benefit this summer? At a local annual bank holiday fair in aid of charity, attendance was well up according to organisers, but takings on food and drink were down by more than 20% on the previous year a clear indication that people want to have fun but are watching their pennies.

GSK says that 80% of soft drink sales come from just 20% of the product range in our sector so it’s good to see brands like Vimto and Irn Bru, both placed well outside of the top 10 sellers, step up their promotional spends and invest heavily to expand both sales and distribution through independent outlets.

I didn’t really fancy my tuna and cucumber baguette at lunch time today. How quickly we are affected by events in the news, even if the E.coli outbreak in Germany has nothing to do with Spanish cucumbers.

Thursday

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has not got the support from major retailers he sought on changing the way alcohol is displayed and promoted in store.

We must all take the responsibility of selling alcohol seriously and if the voluntary agreement doesn’t work then government may well introduce mandatory regulations that could impact on us all.

With the UK Olympic Games organisation taking millions of pounds from the general public to pay for their 2012 tickets we are expecting a downturn in sales as people tighten their belts on discovering the hit on their credit cards and bank accounts.

Canny Scottish customers were quick to pick up on a Tesco pricing error, charging just pound;11 for 3 cases of beer or cider rather than the pound;20 price advertised. Apparently the mistake created a stampede at the store, resulting in the police being called to restore order in the car park. We all put a lot of trust in our IT systems. How easy it is to make mistakes.

Friday

Morrison’s has advertised a weekend only Price Crunch deal on top selling spirits brands for just pound;11 a bottle.

Discounts vary between 15% and 27% on usual pricing so a very tempting offer for the on trade even with a maximum purchase of three bottles per customer.

Rumours that P amp;G is considering a bid for Unilever are rife. Of course, each side refuses to comment and says it is pure speculation. Remember how we laughed when someone suggested Bestway was going to take over Batleys. Stranger things can happen.

We can no longer subsidise the high cost of fuel for our delivery vehicles. Our transport team have done as much as they can with the rescheduling of deliveries to reduce mileage and journey times, even frequency. Customers are not going to be happy but what else can we do?

The spirits market certainly needs some livening up so the launch of Titanic Whiskey from a Belfast distillery should help break the boredom. No jokes, please, about Titanic going down well over ice.

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