The gondola end.
Putting aside the question of why it’s still called a gondola (!) it’s the primary driver of volume for most packaged goods companies. Buy an “end”, get the sales. Simples. If expensive. Most brands’ total sales volume is dependent on buying a fair smattering of these through the year. For some, it’s practically a must buy for every other week.
They matter because that injection of a regular incremental volume is critical to the base of our sales and hence manufacturing economy. They also, one assumes, drive penetration, visibility and of course, usage (the brands on end get the lion share of volume that week). In summary, they maintain the “health” of our brand. And because the retailer orders lots of lovely extra stock to “fill” the end the relationship between investment and return is nice and clear. Retailers need them because they can’t meet the demand for the “deal” without the stock weight the end provides – and the ends give shoppers a sense of value to the store as a whole.
But this is all very superficial and hardly very scientific. There are more questions unanswered than first meets the eye.
Who buys from the end versus the main fixture, and why? Do people who buy from the end go on to buy again down the track and, if so, do we get any legacy full price sales as a result? Do some shoppers buy from the main fixture regardless of the presence of our brand and gondola end? Do some gondola ends work “harder” than others in winning new customers?
A key question is about proximity to the main fixture and position in the flow. What is the difference in how well we bring in new users if our gondola is at the end of our aisle or somewhere else? Does it backfire in the sense that a gondola end may give our shoppers a quick easy “fix” at low margin, deterring them from visiting our aisle and seeing what added value options are available? Is there an unhealthy margin downside to the quick fix of volume?
The only way to dig around these questions so that we can start to unpick the real value in “ends” is to see what real shoppers actually do in-store. This has always been a) expensive and b) because it’s expensive hard to get any substantive sampling (and store coverage).
This is about to change. There is a revolution coming, we are soon going to know as an industry far more than ever before about what gondola ends really do for our shoppers.
Watch this space.