Suppliers keep finding new ways to meet the increasingly complex needs of retailers. Top suppliers are providing great consumer insights, education, tools, backroom support, category management, marketing and a host of other things.
This speaks volumes about the multi-layered nature of trading partner relationships today, as SN found in research for its second annual Category Excellence Awards issue.
Editors chose the winning suppliers in a wide range of categories based on feedback from retailers, who voted in a comprehensive online survey and participated in interviews. SN rounded out this information with survey and interview feedback from other industry participants. Suppliers were asked to nominate their companies for category awards, but did not participate in voting in those categories.
SN's methodology wasn't simply to ask for the identities of the best suppliers. Editors asked respondents to identify the key reasons for their choices, either by picking from a provided list of supplier support functions or adding their own. The reasons are highlighted in a box within each of the write-ups (see the full list below).
Among this year's Category Excellence findings from our team of editors:
Top suppliers continue to invest in new products and innovations and bring consumer insights to retailers. Much of this involves adjusting marketing and merchandising approaches for the economic downturn. Said one retailer about General Mills: “Their strong brands have resonated particularly well as the consumer has shifted to more in-home meal preparation.”
Manufacturers are playing a big role in educating retail associates about categories. For example, one retailer pointed to the role that supplier Pharmavite has played in “providing education for our new category managers to assist them in overseeing the vitamin category.”
Retailers appreciate when suppliers provide tools to enhance business performance. One retailer commenting on Anheuser-Busch said, “They have enabled their distributors to support retailers with category insights via superior space management tools.”
Overall, there were 25 supplier winners in product categories within Center Store, Fresh Market and Nonfood. Editors also chose companies to watch.
Supplier Support Functions
SN would like to thank a number of organizations for helping to distribute the survey. These groups included Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing, Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association and National Grocers Association. Thanks also to all those who responded to the survey.
- In-Store Execution
- Strength of Brand and Assortment
- Tying Into Consumer Trends
- Shopper Insights
- Focus on Costs
- Category Management
- Marketing/Promotion Support
- Skilled Team of Executives
- Product Data Synchronization
- Transportation Efficiency
Guide to Winner Profiles
Here is background on the articles that spotlight supplier leaders:
WINNER: SN editors chose winners based on retailer votes in a survey and responses to interview questions. Editors also took into account feedback from other industry participants.
BULLET POINTS: This box shows the key reasons each supplier was named a winner. Respondents to SN's survey were asked to pick reasons for choosing each supplier from a list of support functions highlighted in a box on this page.
COMPANIES TO WATCH: Other companies whose strong performances bear watching.