What is a Product Line Review?
A product line review (PLR) works as a validation process for retailers. A retailer’s primary objective is to have the optimal assortment in the category to meet the needs of the customers they seek to serve. Retailers want to ensure that the products, promotions, pricing, merchandising, and services they offer customers are the best available and what their target customers want. During a product line review, it is your responsibility as the manufacturer and as the product expert to educate retailers on why your products reflect what the current market wants, and why those products are the best offerings for the retailer’s clients.
While retailers may be concerned about a product category at a higher level, manufacturers tend to take a more granular view of their performance. For example, retailers want to understand the market share of Retailer X for a product category such as grills but you can provide the specifics around Manufacturer Y’s share of charcoal grills, percent sold for over $150 at Retailer X as well as when buyers bought online but picked up in store. A manufacturer’s attention to detail for the category data can provide significant insight to the product line review discussions across retailers. This attention to detail can also pay dividends if the retailer you’re working with chooses you as a “Category Captain”. Category Captains take the lead in recommending floor assortments at the retailer for all brands across a category.
How do I prepare for a product line review?
While PLRs vary from retailer to retailer, many merchants or buyers will provide you with a template that needs to be filled out. When you have your product line review, you typically have anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes to articulate who your company is, how your products fit into the market at large, what benefits your product will bring to the retailer, and how they can best market your product. To that end, it’s best to make sure you have the following topics prepared to talk about during your review:
1) Your company profile:
Introduce yourself and your team. Explain who your company is and what you do. If you’ve never worked with this particular retailer before, you’ll also need to highlight what products your brand offers, how you’re positioned in the market, and highlight your unique strengths. You also want to include details such as where your products are manufactured, and any limitations you may have when it comes to distribution.
2) An overview of the market:
While retailers tend to have a fairly good overview of the basics, it is best to come prepared. You want to be able to share the market size, your specific share of the market as well as your competitors’ shares. In addition, you will also want to know how the retailer you are presenting to is performing in the market (both where their strengths are, and where they are weak) and have their current and historical share sizes on hand as well. It’s also a good idea to have any other key notes about the market as it pertains to your specific product category.
If you are already a TraQline subscriber, you will be able to pull much of this data from our quarterly reports. Furthermore, the interactive analysis gives you many options on how to view the available data. Here are some helpful reports that may assist you:
- Draw/close or consideration/close (brands)
- Your brand’s market share
- Retailer’s market share + competition
- Product Feature Trends
- Online vs. Brick and Mortar
- Brand Penetration for competition
- Dynamic Price Quintile
- Head to head analysis
- Provide gaps in price, demographics, and features and where your product may serve to fill those gaps.
3) Your product information:
How is your product different from other products on the market? You need to explain why your product deserves a place on the retailer’s shelves—both in brick and mortar stores and online. You should clearly define how the retailer will benefit from having your products at their stores. This could include reasons such as:
- Your product fills a gap in their offerings that consumers are looking for
- Your product is positioned directly competes with a winner at another retailer (via price point, demographics, feature set, etc)
- Your product is a premium brand with strong consumer loyalty
- Your product is new and innovative and will drive store traffic and grow the category
- Your product that improves on what currently exists
Your analysis of TraQline data may reveal that your product fits nicely into a price point the retailer doesn’t have any products in. Or perhaps your products command a lot of respect because of your brand name, and the retailer can leverage that to draw in more consumers. These are just a few examples of how you can work together with the retailer to increase their sales.
If you have custom research or industry research on your product, this would be a good time to highlight it. This may include topics such as why consumers prefer your brand or forward-looking research describing where the market is going and how your product fills that need.
4) A marketing plan
Explain how your product will bring new customers to the business and keep repeat customers coming back. This is also a good time to indicate whether you will train sales associates on the new products, and what those training sessions might look like. You may also have ideas about what displays, or signage will look like in order to catch shoppers’ attention.
Be prepared to discuss whether your model (or further, your brand) will be exclusive to that retailer and for how long. Some merchants prefer exclusives due to the lure of specific brand names or product features for your brand.
Make sure your plan includes specifics on how you will help the retailer achieve its sales goals with your brand’s offerings.
What happens after the line review?
After you have completed your presentation, you will work with the retailer to review their options and start designing and implementing some of the material you outlined in your product line review and marketing plan. The retailer will provide you feedback so you can both decide on the final assortment of products they will sell, along with the retail price of those products. You may also need to decide which SKUs in your current set will need to be removed to accommodate your new products. While the logistics are getting ironed out, you and your retail partner can also review the marketing plan to finalize any signage or training for sales associates.
A product line review does not need to be an overwhelming process – preparation and quality data are key. You can access your TraQline subscription to help build and support your line review and enable you to provide actionable insights that will benefit both your business and your retailers bottom line. By coming prepared with actionable data, like the data you can access with a TraQline subscription, you are well on your way to establishing the value you and your products can provide to your retail partners. Do you have more questions about the best reports to bring to your next line review? Contact one of our reps today to learn more about how TraQline’s reporting will make your review stress-free.