Trade Promotion

Why Your Competitors Are Outperforming You at the Shelf

Why Your Competitors Are Outperforming You at the Shelf

Did you know that 72% of brands end up in the red when it comes to promotions? Chances are, most brands find themselves in that majority -- which means the other 28% of brands (i.e. your competitors!) are dramatically outperforming their competition on the shelf. That is why executing promotions and ensuring a positive return could be a deal maker or breaker when attempting to gain additional share of your category, or when defending your space on the shelf from those desperate to snag your spot.

In this article, we'll break down what makes those 28% of brands so successful over the course of a hypothetical 30-day promotion. As you read the comparisons between Brand A and Brand B, ask yourself: “Which brand looks most like me?”


Retail Promotion Day 1: Launch

  • Brand A: Brand A’s rep arrives at their designated store to find out that the promotion materials haven’t yet made it out of the back room. The rep sets up the display and fills it with product. Because the retailer hadn’t set up the promotion on time the rep knows success in this store will require some extra attention, so they flag this as a “high-priority account” in their retail execution platform. At the end of the day, the territory manager reorganizes the visit schedule for each of their reps to give additional support to the accounts that have been flagged as “high priority.”  
  • Brand B: Brand B’s rep arrives at their designated store to find out that the promotion materials haven’t been set up yet. The rep sets up the display and fills it with product, then moves on to check on the next store. At the end of the day the rep emails details from their store visits in a daily recap report, which management receives alongside reports from dozens of other reps in the field. 


Retail Promotion Day 5: Optimization

  • Brand A: Because Brand A prioritized its high-risk accounts at the end of Day 1, their rep is already back at this store to offer the retail staff some additional support. When they check in with the staff, they learn that the display has caused velocity on the promotional product to skyrocket, and that the store is quickly running out of the promotional product. Luckily, the rep is there before the display is completely empty, so they pull stock from their main shelf to keep the display full, then place a replenishment order to keep up with the increased demand. 
  • Brand B: The rep from Brand B continues on their preset route, which doesn’t include revisiting the store they flagged as non-compliant in their email recap on Day 1. Since they’re not in the store, the rep is not aware that the promotion is quickly depleting the store’s back stock, so they don’t have an opportunity to place a replenishment order. Neither the rep nor their manager knows that they’re about to run out of product to support the promotion.





Retail Promotion Day 10: Compliance Audit

  • Brand A: The promotion has been running for a full week, and Brand A has noticed issues with the displays in their largest participating banner, including incorrect pricing and damaged signage. The team manager deploys their reps to conduct a display audit in the target banner so they can turn anecdotes into data points and make correction plans before the halfway point in the promotion. By the end of the day, the results of the audit are in. 
  • Brand B: Brand B’s reps continue their store visits at the same cadence they planned from the start of the promotion. When our rep returns to the store that was out of compliance on Day 1 they find the display empty, with no more product left in the back room. Even worse, the display has been filled with a competitor’s products. The rep quickly places a replenishment order, but the shipment won’t arrive for another three days. The rep reports the error in a daily recap email.


Retail Promotion Day 15: Account Re-Prioritization

  • Brand A: At the halfway point in the promotion, Brand A has re-prioritized its account list in response to the conditions in each individual store. Display issues have been resolved across their largest participating banner, and reps have been able to spend more time in stores with unresponsive staff. 
  • Brand B: The first week of daily recap reports have now been compiled into an execution report and shared with Brand B’s team managers. They notice the compliance error our rep reported on Day 1, and flag that store as high priority. Their rep only has one scheduled visit remaining at that store during the promotion, but this data will help hone their visit strategy for their next promotion. 


Retail Promotion Day 30: Data Sharing 

  • Brand A: The promotion comes to an end. Sales velocity data shows that many historically low-performing stores performed like A-stores during the promotional period, while top performers exceeded the projected lift. Brand A drills down to understand which reps, activities, and store conditions were responsible for the biggest lifts. These learnings will help make the next promotion even better. In closing, Brand A sends a review of their team’s activity to their retail partners, highlighting the work they did to ensure the promotion was a success in each store and proving the value they bring as a proactive partner. 
  • Brand B: The promotion comes to an end. Sales velocity data shows that most historically high-performing stores experienced the expected lift, while lower-tier stores dragged the averages down. The sales ops team gets to work compiling their reps’ daily execution reports into an execution summary, hoping they can explain why certain stores performed below goal. These insights will help inform the execution plan for next quarter’s promotion.


Despite their best efforts, the reality is that Brand B will likely end up in the red because they simply had no idea how their promotion was being executed at the store level on a daily basis. On average, it can take brands as long as 12 weeks to review promotion execution data, which means many brands have to wait until after a promotion ends to diagnose what went wrong. By that time, it’s too late to make corrections. 

On the contrary, Brand A had the benefit of using in-flight promotion optimization in order to take course-correcting action on their promotion before it ended. Their ability to record and share data on the fly enabled them to identify opportunities for improvement in real time so they could directly impact the success of the promotion as it unfolded. For more information on how leading brands are incorporating in-flight promotion optimization into their promotion strategies, check out our latest eBook.

Download the 2024 Outlook Report

As the retail landscape continues to evolve, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of the latest trends and challenges. Download our report today to see how more than 160+ CG executives and field leaders are strategizing for 2024.

Melissa Sonntag

Melissa is a recent graduate of Northeastern University and a content marketing specialist at Repsly, Inc. She is committed to applying her skills in order to bring value to Repsly readers and customers. Outside of work, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, making music, and anything dog-related.

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