CMA|SIMA Private Networking Groups: 9 Key Insights from Q3

October 27, 2021

Key Takeaways for Brands and Retailers.

Each quarter the CMA and SIMA host a number of private networking groups (PNGs) made up of suppliers and retailers to discuss industry pain points and best practices. Participation in these groups is by request only, to account for competitive overlap. Some have been meeting since 2017, so the richness in conversation among peers results in extremely actionable insights.

While the full notes remain available to participants only, we wanted to share some of the key takeaways from meetings held in 3Q (July-September). These are meant to both inform on real-time industry topics and make members and non-members aware of the networking opportunities available through ARC (The Association for Retail and Consumer Professionals). Here are our top takeaways from these most recent PNGs.

Key Takeaways for Brands

  1. Raw material cost increases are impacting all categories represented in our groups including OTC, personal care, pet food, and hardlines, and most have taken price. The outlook is for continued pressure, with some participants anticipating a need to take price again in 2022/2023.
  2. Manufactures are struggling with forecasting but general consensus is still to use 2-year comparisons (vs. 2019) for now.
  3. Brands continue to outpace private label (PL) in dollar sales, but many categories across food/hardlines are both in decline due to tough comparisons vs. 2020. Participants are attributing some of the PL lag to less emphasis on PL brands on eCommerce, as penetration grows and trade funds are limited for PL suppliers, in addition to continued child tax credits/government support.

‌Key Takeaways for Retailers

  1. Return to office plans remain mixed, with some retailers back in the office 1-2 days per week, while others have made the decision to remain fully remote. Overall delays in permanent return to work planning, as well as corporate travel and in-person vendor meetings on hold seem to be consensus as the Delta variant remains active.
  2. Vendors use of technology seems to be ramping up as a result of fewer in-person meetings, with more employing virtual reality and virtual space planning tools to help compensate. The use of QR codes also seems to be resurfacing as consumer use has increased during the pandemic and they can be an effective way to communicate product information in place of human interaction in stores.
  3. Out of stocks and product shortages appear to be as bad if not worse than last quarter with many retailers concerned about holiday supply, as demand has remained strong through the summer in both the grocery and home improvement channels (c-store more mixed). Retailers should plan on increased labor implications to more resetting around holiday.

Key Takeaways on Shopper Insights

  1. Shopper insights teams remain split between reporting up to Sales versus Marketing. Participants agree an independent Insights & Analytics team makes the most sense, allowing for fewer tensions over funding and more autonomy, and some are testing this structure today.
  2. eCommerce data is largely being collected from a variety of sources including Numerator, Nielsen Rakuten, IRI, and 1010data. Panels are evolving and new sources seem to be cropping up daily, and participants shared best practices on optimizing the use of various providers.
  3. Many shopper insights teams are making RFP decisions on data providers for 2022 over the coming months. While it is important to compare capabilities of providers at a high level, there are often additional factors specific to each category that will influence these decisions.

Want to Get Involved?

Private Networking Groups are a great benefit for CMA and SIMA members. Connect with other peers in a non-competitive setting, share knowledge and see how other companies are dealing with the same issues you face every day.

For more information or to participate in a Private Networking Group through the CMA or SIMA, feel free to contact Director of Content and Member Engagement Jackie Lewis: [email protected].