Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Topic du jour: What works in this economy?

Good morning, all. I woke up this morning to several e-mails from reps asking about some of hen and barley's current specials, and then noted that some of my daily blog reading was covering specials & promotions being run by both manufacturers and retailers in our industry.

With that in mind, it made me wonder: What works in this economy? Retailers, what things are you doing for your customers that help generate sales, and how can manufacturers support these efforts? Manufacturers, what are you doing to generate sales? What's working for you? Would our industry gain anything if as many manufacturers as possible banded together and offered similar promotions?

I am not asking anyone to reveal deep dark trade secrets, so I so hope that we'll get some comments on this one. In our offices, we try to talk to retailers, really listen to what their needs are and then develop promotions accordingly, but since we can't talk to everyone, even then it can feel like throwing darts at a board. And to properly develop and promote your promotions it takes time and lots of communication to get the word out, so wouldn't it be lovely if we all knew what retailers really want? And retailers, wouldn't it be lovely if the promotions arriving in your...ahem...e-mail inboxes were just what you were looking for?

What have we done (that has seemed to work)?

- At NSS the 6 manufacturers in the A Fresh Bunch booth standardized their opening order minimums and waived minimums if a retailer wrote with everyone in the booth.
- Outisde of NSS, hen and barley press has waived minimums on orders and re-orders since it seems that our retailers want to minimize inventory on their shelves and order less product more often.
- hen and barley press has focused on products that are less expensive for retailers & customers to purchase, as well as programs that don't require the retailers to carry inventory.

So, let's hear it: What works in this economy?


  1. I agree, especially in this economy, lower or no minimums for opening orders and reorders is very appreciated by my buyers. As a manufacturer and designer, I really appreciate input from my retailers about what works for them and what doesn't. This is invaluable information that can be incorporated into our policies and future designs. Let's keep talking to each other! It works!

  2. We're just embracing being flexible in as many ways as we can. We've waived minimums for current dealers who are picking up newly launched products. And when we look at the roster of new products we intend to roll out over the course of this year and next, we've shifted all the lower-cost items to be the priority so consumers can treat themselves to something low-cost that still makes them feel good. And, parallel to that we're developing ways to make lines inexpensive for a dealer to bring in, so they can make back their investment in a single order.

    We're also truly open to listening - we want to hear from our stores if they have an idea for a promotion, and we want their feedback.

  3. We've never had minimum orders, and I think that smaller stores especially appreciate the ability to "get their feet wet" before jumping in whole-hog. We're also starting a line of charity cards, where a portion of the proceeds go to a specific cause. I think consumers are happy when their dollar can do a little more, work a little harder.