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Application Exercise Two

This exercise gives you the opportunity to explore branding and retail merchandising outside of the classroom setting. In the first part of this exercise, you will choose two products and conduct primary research in the grocery store of your choice (preferably a large chain like King Soopers, Safeway or Albertsons). You will summarize your findings in written responses to a series of questions. The second part of this exercise gives you the opportunity to compare and contrast the merchandising strategies of the two products.

Submissions should be a minimum of 3 pages, single-spaced (this includes reasonably-sized exhibits). Please include a bibliography and properly cite all resources – even cite your store location. Paper submissions must include a printed and signed Submission Form (see end of this document).

All exercises are due in paper form in class no later than Thursday July 10th AND must be submitted digitally via Canvas by Thursday July 10th at 9:00am. Late submissions will not be accepted.

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Part One

Choose any two of the following products to research (see images at the end of this outline):

• Jif Creamy Peanut Butter – 18 oz.
• Smucker’s Concord Grape Jelly – 10 oz.
• Mrs. Butterworth Syrup, Original flavor – any size
• Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner – Family Size, 14.5 oz.
• Heinz Ketchup – 20 oz.
• French’s Classic Yellow Mustard – 14 oz.
• Pantene Nature Fusion Shampoo – 12.6 fl. oz.
• Crest Vivid White Toothpaste – any size

*If you cannot find the specific package size in your store, please use a different size of the same product.

Go to the grocery store, find your first product and respond to the following items. You may want to take a clipboard, notebook, ruler or tape measure, and camera with you during your visit.
1) What store did you visit (name and location)?
2) On which aisle did you locate your product? What other categories of products are located on that aisle?
3) Look at the section in which your product is merchandised. How many shelves are there in that section (including top and bottom)? What is the height of the top shelf? What is the height of the bottom shelf? Does the section contain only shelves or are there other types of fixtures such as hooks, pegs, boxes, etc.? What is the length of the section from left to right (the area containing similar products)?
4) Take a photo of and/or draw a diagram of the section containing your product. Be sure to label the SKUs (by name and other identifying characteristics such as flavor, size, etc. – you do not necessarily need to include actual SKU numbers), indicate number of facings for each SKU, label relevant measurements, and highlight where product pricing is shown. What types of products are in the sections adjacent (to the right and left) of your product’s section?
5) What shelf/shelves contain your specific SKU (1=bottom, etc.)? How many total facings are there of your specific SKU? How deeply is your product stocked (number of units behind each facing and total number available for purchase)? Are there other SKUs of the same brand on the same shelf or other shelves? Is your shelf at, above or below eye level? If your product is not at eye level, what brands are?
6) Describe how products are arranged in this section? Are they arranged according to brand, flavor, features, package sizes or styles, price, etc.? Why do you think the store has chosen that merchandising strategy? Is it intuitive to you as a consumer? Would you merchandise products differently and, if so, how?
7) Does the current merchandising strategy favor any brands and/or SKUs over any other? If so, who do you think has the advantage? Who is at a disadvantage? Why? Do you think the pricing labels or other shelf labeling currently present in your section impact consumer perception or competitive advantage at the point of purchase?
8) Step back and look not only at your section, but those sections and aisles surrounding your product. What do you think the merchandising of the products tells you as consumer about competitive, substitute and complementary products? Based on merchandising alone, describe what clues are offered that would help you identify various types of competitors (brand, industry, form and generic) and who those competitors might be.
9) Is your product displayed in another location in the store such as end-caps, seasonal sections, POP displays, checkout stands, etc.? If so, describe that merchandising and how it impacts your product’s overall in-store presence.
10) Is there anything else you noticed or would like to highlight regarding how your product was displayed in the store?
Once you have responded to the preceding items for your first product, repeat for your second product.
Step Two
Now that you have researched both of your products, you have the opportunity to compare and contrast the two.
1) How are the merchandising strategies/arrangements in your two sections similar? How are they different?
2) Which section do you think is easier for the consumer to shop and why?
3) Which of your two products has the better shelf space? Why. Do you think the marketer did something to garner that shelf space? If so, please explain. What could be done to improve the merchandising of the other product?
4) Do you think the number of facings per brand and per SKU impact consumers’ purchase decisions? Provide rationale for your position.
5) Feel free to provide any concluding remarks, observations, ideas regarding what you learned in this exercise.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in class or in the Q&A area in Blackboard.

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