The changing landscape of the Grocery sector: Ensure your brand is thriving - not just surviving!

22 July 2022
Author: Kirsty Whyte

The Grocery sector has always been a vital part of the retail landscape – keeping consumers fed and stocked up on essentials! Throughout June, we got to grips with how the channel has evolved in the last six months. We asked our retail experts what’s happening in store, what opportunities brands should be aware of, and any challenges that need to be considered in next year’s strategy. We explored the benefits of agile teams - the fast, yet effective way of getting the resource you need - and looked at how EPOS data is helping brands make smarter decisions in Grocery. Get some of the campaign highlights below and discover everything you need to know to thrive in the sector right now. 


Challenges & opportunities for brands in 2022 

Some of the current challenges in the Grocery sector revolve around supply chain, stock availability and staff shortages. Helen Sheridan, Customer Development Director for our McCurrach agency, is responsible for leading client Grocery teams and gave an insight into what’s happening in stores:  
“We’re seeing lack of product availability due to ongoing supply chain and raw ingredient shortages, and heightened cost pressures such as the cost-of-living crisis. Availability is suffering across all fascias - not as much as it was during Covid, but it certainly hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels.  
Poor execution in Grocery is a big issue too which I think is driven by staff shortages. Brands still need support in Grocery but they may not recognise this because they think it’s a “safe” channel for them.”  

So, with that in mind here are 3 things brands should watch out for this year: 

  1. HFFS regulations – and the challenges and opportunities this creates 
  1. Opportunities for big bang execution for events like the World Cup 
  1. Christmas – planning starts now due to HFSS and world cup happening during the same time 


Mix up your resource model: why more brands should use agile teams 

As the Grocery sector continues to shift, now more than ever, brands need to ensure they have the right people in the right place to keep sales steady and avoid losses as much as possible. Today, permanent teams aren’t the only solution when it comes to having people in the field, as more brands discover the benefits of agile field marketing teams. This allows brands to access resource as and when they need it. 

David Easson, Activation Controller for Wave adds: “Fixed term sales teams can provide the same capability as a permanent team. With these teams, we carry out internal training and accreditation to colleagues in the same way we would with permanent colleagues. It’s essentially a highly skilled community available on tap that covers every area across the country.” 

So, why should your brand consider using agile teams in Grocery?: 

  • Get access to skilled teams and communities who are ready to ramp up your sales activity 
  • Your brand can make the most of seasonal peaks with a dedicated team for events, NPD drives or busy periods 
  • Save costs on extra permanent teams year-round, without compromising on your results 
How can EPOS data help your brand make smarter decisions in Grocery? 


So now you understand the trends, opportunities and challenges in the channel – and you understand your options for optimising your resource in the field. Next, we’re moving onto making the most of EPOS data in line with this.  

In Grocery, data is crucial to sales success as it helps inform brands where their problem and opportunity areas are and allows them to make smarter decisions on an ongoing basis. 

A number of field marketing and head office teams rely on Thumbprint’s EPOS analytics tool DART as a sales aid in stores, generating success through the direction it provides. It helps them be proactive, work efficiently and address any challenges on the go. In fact, field teams leveraging this technology have seen average sales increases of 43% vs teams who don’t use DART. 

Simon Davies, Territory Manager for Unilever says, “The data that DART provides is formidable and has helped me agree actions and deliver results in stores numerous times.” 


Your next move to guarantee success in Grocery  


As the Grocery sector continues to evolve, brands need to ensure they are thriving and not just surviving. Being proactive in your approach will be key to success. In an increasingly competitive landscape, getting the right team structure and call file, and combining this with data will set you apart and equip you for any challenges in future. Data led analytics is becoming more important than ever and should play a major factor in your strategy in Grocery. As long as brands can adapt with the sector and take steps now to plan actions and get the right people in place, they’ll be primed to succeed. 


From getting the right mix of permanent and agile teams in place, support with delivering winning execution, or maximising data, our Group of Sales and Marketing agencies are ready to help your brand thrive in Grocery and every key retail sector.

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