Our key takeouts from the 2013 IGD Symbols Conference

Date : 16 May 2013

Over 300 delegates attended the Symbol Conference this year to hear briefings from Nisa, SPAR UK, Premier and Costcutter. We've summarised some of the key take outs from the day here.

On the look out for value

IGD's latestShopperVista research demonstrates the challenges facing British customers, highlighting 76% of those shoppers interviewed are still concerned about the cost of living. Convenience continues to be seen by shoppers as a way of keeping tighter control of household budgets, offering a great opportunity for symbol groups to support the trend for 'little and often' shopping trips. However, with the level of promotions increasing, customers are finding it harder to identify real value. This is going to be a challenge for retailers who will have to use a mix of promotional mechanics to make sure they are perceived to be offering their customers 'real deals'. To see the full findings of our convenience shopper research click here.

Increasing importance of private label 

The growth in private label, and the importance symbol operators are placing on it, was a consistent theme at the conference. Retailers are continuing to invest in new products and are constantly looking for innovation in their ranges as a means to differentiate themselves from their competitors. SPAR UK for example, is using private label to help drive its mission strategy - providing solutions for 'tonight's tea', lunchtime and summer eating. Major work is also underway at Costcutter to upweight its private label proposition, whilst Premier continues to position itself as the 'friend of brand, friend of own brand'.

A continued move away from 'one size' fits all

Although not new, segmentation is still a key focus for the industry, with symbol groups continuing to develop new formats. We are already seeing segmentation in the market with Costcutter operating its Kwiksave, Costcutter and myCostcutter fascias and Nisa growing its Loco estate. With Booker announcing it has been trialling a new discount convenience store in the West Midlands, there is a continuing shift away from the 'one size fits all' approach to convenience retailing and a move to an era of stores tailored to their local catchments. With Nisa, SPAR UK and Premier all signalling their intention to expand in to the branded fuel market, we can expect this trend to continue, with a need for more range tailoring from suppliers.

Increased supplier engagement

With customers demanding more from their convenience stores, the challenge remains for retailers and suppliers to continue to work together more closely. Suppliers are being encouraged to be more innovative to work with the symbol segment by developing new ranges, offer help for new store launches, tailor pack sizes for new formats and use the channel for exclusive product launches. With Nisa and Booker putting more emphasis on their retail operations, it is important for suppliers to have joint business plans for retail as well as wholesale.

Develop your convenience thinking

Convenience offers huge opportunities for growth, so it has never been more important to have a solid understanding of the market. Our workshop is aimed at those new to the channel, guiding delegates through ownership models, key trends and developments and shopper perspectives. For more information,click here