Local Differences and the Impact on Sales

Marketing, August 12, 1993 | Go to article overview

Local Differences and the Impact on Sales


Field marketing has grown into a global business. In Europe alone, third-party field marketing firms turnover |pounds~500m and employ 70,000. But if the costs of in-house sales reps who perform field marketing activities are included, along with the costs of point-of-sale materials, the total spend by European firms grows to over |pounds~10bn.

The table on page 18 details the size of the industry. The mix of face-to-face versus merchandising and sales/merchandising activity varies across Europe, with the UK showing the largest demand. This is because contract sales/merchandising has been in operation here for over 40 years, whereas it was only introduced to other European countries in the 80s.

Although the mix of services varies across Europe, the industry has become international. There are several firms which offer a pan-European service and bodies such as the International Field Marketing Alliance help facilitate cross-border campaigns. Globalisation has been accelerated by the involvement of international advertising groups such as Omnicom.

Field marketing is a business which is global but thinks local. This is because the sales building activities vary from one country to another.

In Italy sales merchandisers can have a major impact on sales by stocking and ordering on behalf of retailers. In the UK this impact has been diminished by centralised retail decision-making. Yet the location of point-of-sale materials and the development of a strong point-of-sale presence can still have a major impact on sales.

Targeting the right outlets

Local knowledge is important in ensuring that the right outlets are targeted. In Belgium many retail outlets lack the sales potential to justify calls. Conversely, multiple groups such as GB Inno restrict sales representative and merchandiser calls.

Some suppliers get round these restrictions by sending in "mystery shoppers" who check that the supplier's products are properly displayed and report back any market intelligence. Between countries the importance of different sorts of outlets can vary.

For example, in the convenience product sector, much of the field marketing spend in France is focused TABULAR DATA OMITTED on the multiple trade, whereas in the UK it tends to be targeted at independent retailers.

Getting it right instore

Legal, cultural and physical constraints require that instore activities are refined in order to meet additional needs.

Legal issues: Regulations vary by country. For example, the standards for merchandising cigarettes are different across Europe. In the UK coupons are distributed only at the point of purchase whereas in Italy they can be issued in the street. Similar restrictions affect financial services, insurance and a variety of other industries.

Cultural issues: Attitudes to field marketing are different. In Ireland an outlet manager will typically be keen for the merchandiser to improve shelf layout, where as his/her German counterpart will often refuse to allow staff to interfere with the shelf.

Physical issues: Outlets vary across Europe. In the UK, magazines are typically sold from large CTNs where as in southern Europe they are sold from kiosks. Large posters can be effective in the UK can not be fitted into small European kiosks.

Face-to-face campaigns

Local knowledge is also required when setting up a "face-to-face" campaign. Public holidays, key trial locations and even the weather can make or break a major campaign. In Italy a major outdoor trial campaign for a coffee brand was successful in Milan but failed in Naples due to the heat.

Even the choice of merchandiser can differ between countries and trade sectors. UK store managers are accustomed to female merchandisers, but their Spanish counterparts can be less enlightened. Selecting the most efficient and effective person becomes difficult when dealing with such prejudice. …

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