The Planogram Reset

January 30, 2023
By Mike Sweeney, Chief Marketing Officer SMSB

Can someone please tell me how we did on this year’s planogram?

This is a common question category managers face as they enter each new calendar year. Then, National Account Managers sweat trying to explain the results of their sales efforts from the latest line review. The goal was clear: gain space, get all five flavors cut in, at eye level, in every store. We have the best brand, best innovation, and smartest sales and category team. What else do you need? Sales executives everywhere, from brands large and small, ask this very simple question that is becoming harder to answer. I feel like our internal QBR (Quarterly Business Review) turns out to be like this guy in the picture:

It's always sunny in Philadelphia photo

Source: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I feel like this is becoming a conspiracy theory…

If you are a Buyer, the decisions you make across your stores in terms of assortment, placement and share of shelf assigned to brands often create conspiracy theory explanations among your suppliers.  Overpaid for space, personal connections, conspiracies from every angle. Why can’t they just trust that it’s your job to choose the best items for your shoppers? Do they not understand that buyers have sales targets to hit too?

If you are a sales executive, you simply want answers from your sales team.  Did we win, lose, draw?  Where are our new items?  How are they positioned?  Did we get into every POG?  Where did we land on pricing?  What did our competition launch?  So many hard questions to be answered.

Where did we land?

The truth is, it’s not easy.  Today’s assortment strategy is becoming very complex for all the right reasons. The shopper wants more today – more variety, more sizes, more reasons to buy.  The ability for a brand to garner awareness through social media and eCommerce breaks down traditional barriers to entry created by brick and mortar.  And retailers need to make sure they remain relevant with their shoppers by offering more variety than before, where their shoppers want it.  This leads to more items, more store formats, and more POGs.  The predominant POG is a relic of the past.  Store Specific, “Store of the Community”, Micro-markets are the expectation of today.

Retailers simply don’t have the time, energy, or intention to help brands determine where they stand.   It’s too much work. I make the POG, I post them to my portal, just deliver me on time, in full.

What’s more important than the POG?

Nothing. The POG is the most important element of a brand’s success in retail.  Where a brand is positioned, how many facings, brand adjacencies and retail price can make or break a brand.  New items, whether brand extensions or new brands, live or die how they are merchandised within the POG.   We don’t need conspiracy theories; we need the truth.

As important as the Planogram is, it’s hard to get your hands on one. Especially in independent retailers like convenience stores or bodegas. In many cases, these planograms, individual to each store and never centralized, provide the best insights for the category.

AI-Image recognition can debunk the conspiracy.

AI-Image Recognition can provide the unbiased, unvarnished truth of how retailers are merchandising your brand.  The “Reset” is arguably the most important event of the year for brands.  Where you land will determine your promotional strategy, pricing strategy, merchandising investments, marketing priorities and more.   The “Reset” will impact volume lift, forecasts and supply chain needs.  In some industries, contracts are impacted.  Tools exist in the market today that leverage AI-Image recognition to automate the building of editable planograms from a picture and/or PDF.  This allows brands to collect and evaluate planograms across every store, chain or region, including for hard-to-capture independent retailers.

Check out The Vision Group at the upcoming 2023 CMA | SIMA Conference in Las Vegas who will be demonstrating their AI-Image Technology across many tools such as Store360, PICToPog and PDFToPog.