Finding golden nuggets of new opportunities is both resource intensive and time consuming. And yet for all the energy it takes, it is the topic that generates the most buzz in the retailer community. Everyone is looking for the Next Big Thing. A recent study, in fact, found that 93 percent of retailers including the big players like Safeway, Walmart, Albertsons, Walgreens, and Toys R US, viewed finding new product innovation as the biggest challenge in the industry today.1Kantar Retail 2014 Category Leadership Benchmarking Study
But what if you’re a retailer that caters solely to lower income families, like Family Dollar or Dollar General? For these large U.S. retailers, sourcing innovative products is an entirely different ballgame. Value store retailers are focused on sourcing new products with the best possible margin that meet consumer needs at the lowest price possible. Their families are not generally seeking organic, natural, or other buzz-worthy product lines that are so popular today. For retailers targeting value consumers, those golden nuggets are all about finding the best product mix to suit the value shopper. And those product mixes often focus on national brands that are familiar and well-liked by consumers—new and emerging brands are not the focus. To get a new product into its mix, a value retailer would focus on a national brand new innovation, select SKUs and then negotiate hard on the price, given the scale of the order and limited range.
Value stores may not have the selection other retailers offer, but the products on their shelves are carefully curated to meet their consumers’ needs.Take Cheerios cereal as an example: At your local Safeway, there might be six different flavors of the cereal in different pack sizes on the shelf for a consumer to choose from. But at a Dollar General, there’s one or two flavors, and one value-pack size. Value stores may not have the selection other retailers offer, but the products on their shelves are carefully curated to meet their consumers’ needs. What’s working really well for these value retailers and their audience is the increasingly popular “$1 Madness Bays”—big bins of anything from beauty products to toilet sprays to paper cups that are for sale at the rock bottom price of $1—these are a key draw for their customers and are hugely successful, so much so that they change out the offers of these bays every few weeks.
For value retailers, understanding your consumer is fundamental to keeping them and delivering their needs. For example, I recently learned that the average shopper of Dollar General lives off of a $6 per day budget for food. That insight is exactly what the buyers for these value chains need—it reaffirms their deep sense of commitment not only to their stores but more important, to their customers. It allows the buyers to strive to deliver the best product mix at the lowest possible prices, and do their part in helping their customers improve the quality of their lives, one meal at a time.