For foodservice manufacturers trade spend is typically the largest expense line item, apart from cost of goods sold, on their income statements. Despite its oversized economic importance, however, trade spend is hard to pin down as an organizational function. Traditional sales and marketing activities like pricing, advertising and sales force management tend to have clear organizational mandates, departmental structures and dedicated resources. Not so trade spend, which is less a singular discipline than it is a hodgepodge of activities scattered across different departments. The lack of a holistic approach to the many divergent strands of trade spend activity can make for suboptimal results, duplication of efforts, and inability to measure and evaluate the performance of trade spend decisions.
To be more effective, managers need to break down the organizational barriers, bring their diverse trade activities, information and processes onto a common platform, and mobilize the vast amount of data available from their purchase history records to the task of analyzing opportunities for more precisely targeted trade campaigns with a higher likelihood of success. This can provide the foundation for a holistic approach that helps foodservice enterprises achieve that objective much talked about but not often achieved – turning trade spend into trade investment.
This holistic approach starts at the beginning, with a broad-based trade budget which managers plan across different product platforms, trade vehicles and customer types. How is the budget initially divided up? As a practical matter there is a fundamental problem here: manufacturers often end up sending most of their trade dollars to their largest customers – who are often the ones who need these dollars least – rather than the ones who could potentially grow their business and expand their product sales more aggressively. A better way to spend trade dollars is through disciplined quantitative analysis and economic scenario testing that ultimately reaches a very granular level of detail: what combinations of products and customers are likely to be the most receptive to trade initiatives? The goal is then to build a trade program that can effectively reach these target audiences, to execute campaigns with precisely defined messages and incentives, and to measure the results so as to have a plausible quantitative measure for return on trade investment (ROTI). Continue reading