MSYS needs more of the same More wholesalers and retailers than ever take part

Generic educational PR and marketing campaigns – those which are mounted by a group of companies with common objectives – provide an umbrella under which those companies can work on their own competitive commercial activity.

MSYS is an educational activity based on reminding the consumer of the value of the independent retailer and inspiring the retailer to maximise his community involvement.

Lacking the apparent bottomless pits that fund the multiples’ marketing campaigns, wholesalers operating in a highly fragmented market cannot reach the consumer efficiently working alone.

Independent retailers can and do use their close interface to communicate with the consumers in their own neighbourhood – again a fragmented activity.

In reviewing NID in June, there is one inescapable conclusion to be reached; thousands of the retailers who form the core customer base of wholesalers celebrated the day in their own way.

Will it increase sales?

This was not an accident. It happened because so many wholesalers made it happen.

It happened because manufacturers with crucial distribution in the small store sector helped to make it happen.

The marketing mix for NID consisted of a money off coupon promotion in the Daily Mirror and Daily Record with associated editorial support, many related individual wholesaler support activities, free NID in-store theatre kits for retailers and an energetic PR campaign through regional media.

The objective of all this is simplicity itself – to promote the unique community value of the sole trader and family Features > Business, retailers who “live over the shop” and share the ups and downs of their neighbourhood with their customers.

Independent retailers are among the best entrepreneurs. Research undertaken prior to June l revealed that most of them are in the business for the long term and because they believe they are helping their community in one way or another.

These sole traders and family businesses, whose replenishment spend is sought after in the most competitive manner by wholesalers, do not come off an assembly line. By nature they are individualists, seeking freedom from corporate existence, very hard working, family orientated and proud of what they do.

They can spot a false dawn when they see it – and research demonstrates that retailers see MSYS as distinctively their own and something to which they can add their own personality, ideas and resource.

Helping local charities, local old folks’ clubs and junior soccer teams is just part of it. The other element is simply being part of the community in their own individual way, which contributes to the trading side of the business.

By recognising the power of the message inherent in MSYS, independent retailers are revealing by their participation that they recognise the message is unique to them – unless you are an independent you cannot claim ownership of the shop and adopt the sub-theme “Local And Proud Of It”.

By embracing MSYS and NID, retailers will gradually begin to develop and expand their community links and the revenue that comes from it.

Community is a word which, research shows, increasingly has its “feel good” impact on the consumer.

This is why the giant multiples are adopting “community” some three years after FWD launched MSYS. The multiples are not daft. They know they must reverse public concerns – and they will.

But the multiple manager does not own the Features > Business, his life is not intertwined with his store’s neighbours, and therefore the locality of the connection with customers is just not the same.

Nor need it be. “Community” for the multiples – with vast budgets buying wind generators and green propaganda – is a different kind of “community” to that which the local independent enjoys naturally with the customers who come into their shop almost every day. These are customers that the independent retailer – uniquely – knows personally in seven out of ten cases.

More of the same

Having impressive involvement in the 2006 MSYS activity and NID, cash and carry and delivered wholesalers have demonstrated a commitment on which they can grow the activity in future.

Linked with the increasingly professional product marketing campaigns by individual wholesalers, with store layout and merchandising advice and so on, MSYS has proved it can motivate and inspire the retailer.

That’s the first stage. What happens next? Meeting in July, the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) will review the good, the bad and the ugly arising from NID 06, remove the latter two and begin the process of ensuring that we have even more retailers promoting their community value in 2007.

There is a wider agenda. MSYS is on-going. It is not a one day campaign – NID was born to give the sector a big flag to wave but its philosophy is firmly based on the maxim that every day is NID.

Having established the principle that MSYS works, continuity or momentum is the next challenge for the industry with wholesalers harnessing their considerable power in a positive, constructive PR and marketing campaign with a very real commercial basis.

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