Eye level is the most lucrative product positioning you can get. Brands will do almost anything to get their products positioned at eye level on shelves. In our experience, eye level is the most prime positioning on the shelf because it generates the most sales when compared with being at the top or bottom of the shelf. While the goal of getting your products merchandised at this prime spot sounds simple, it is more challenging that you might think. Why? Because every brand wants their products at eye level so this means competition.
If you are looking at giving your brand a boost you could consider taking cues from other brands who are managing to achieve prime positioning in stores. Here's what brands do to get their products positioned at eye level:
1) Offer supporting benefits to the retailer's goals
Depending on the role of the category the retailer will or should have an idea of how the category will support the overall goals of the store. Sometimes it will be traffic building, in which case items which naturally sell in high volumes are likely to get eye level. In other instances, it will be to drive profit, in which case products with fair unit sales and higher profit margins will get the prime spot.
2) Sponsor merchandising services
Don't assume that retailers have perfectly efficient merchandising operations. Once planograms/ space plans have been approved by the retailer and you so happen to have negotiated the prime spot, then your next focus should be execution. In other words, ensure that the plan is accurately executed in stores. There are two ways which you can go about this:
A) Obtain the signed off planograms from the retailer and use your in-house staff to merchandise accordingly. Use mobile software to make sure the work is being done on time and accurately.
B) Choose and hire a merchandising service provider who uses the economies of scale to implement the planograms on your behalf. Make sure the firm uses mobile software to prove service delivery, or you will end up assuming that implementation has been done when there is no supporting data that it has.
3) Muscle in over other brands (We don't recommend this)
There are always those who will play dirty to achieve a particular result. We don't recommend muscling in over other brands, but brands do this often so you may as well know about it. Here's what muscling in is all about: Those of you have been in retail for some time will know that retailers are moving toward tighter control over their space planning because retail space is one of their most expensive assets and it is only getting more expensive. However, some retailers aren't as efficient as others in the management and control of this part of the business. This inefficiency leaves a gap for brands to use their field staff or shady merchandising agencies (much like points a and b above, except without the consent of the retailer) to physically tamper with space apportionment and positioning.
While this approach can seem tempting, there is a fundamental problem with it. If someone were to visit your home and rearrange your furniture while you were out, how would you feel about it? It is likely that you would feel insulted. Tampering with a retailer's space planning without their consent is just as insulting to retailers, so we suggest that you leave this tactic out and rather spend the same amount of resources on building your relationship with the retailer by adding value to the category.
4) Use field marketing to make sure you get what was signed off
This is more relevant if you already have signed off planograms which give your products favourable positioning and/ or apportionments. Essentially the idea is to use either your own staff or a field marketing agency to conduct checks to make sure that other brands haven't tampered with the execution of the signed off space plan.
Professional field marketing agencies who use economies of scale and mobile workforce software are particularly helpful with conducting random checks on behalf of brands.
5) Be the best brand in the category
There is no shortcut to success and working towards becomming a brand leader is something which should be a natural part of your organisations culture. Being the brand leader of a category results in benefits which other brands don't get. Some of these include:
A) The retailer often wants the brand leader and house brand to be positioned at eye-level.
B) The category captain of the category is usually the brand leader. This gives the brand leader additional influence over the category.
If you want to claim the lucrative eye level positioning on the shelf, then offer supporting benefits to the retailer's goals, sponsor merchandising services, work tirelessly to become the brand leader, avoid tampering with the retailer's space planning when you don't have their consent and make sure other brands don't steal space from your products.