In store is key to grow the core

To grow your core you need to get things right in store. But the Carr's water biscuit brand has failed to take this on board, based on the story shared with me by Sue Allchurch, global brand VP on Lipton and a good mate of mine.

Carr's was born with an original core product, a light, thin and crispy biscuit great to have with cheese. Over time, the brand's extended the original "anchor" version to also offer garlic, black pepper and sesame versions. The brand has also stretched to have melts and cheese triangles.

Now I'd bet a biscuit or two that the original version still makes up the bulk of sales. I'd guess 50%? And yet look below at the shelf Sue found when she went to buy some of these original Carr's biscuits. As she said, "It's the 3rd weekend in a row, Saturday at 11am and they are out of stock of plain Carrs. I DON'T WANT peppercorns or sesame seeds!!!!".

Not a happy lady. And I guess she's not the only one.

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What can we learn from this?

1. The basics still matter

Even today's high-tech world, you can still get caught out by something as basic as out-of-stocks. Back in the days when Sue and I were brand assistants at P&G, we were trained to sniff out like bloodhounds reasons for every 0.1% of share loss. And often the reason was out-of-stocks. Wind forward, and it's still an issue.

2. Focus on the core, in-store

Why do Carr's original water biscuits have the same shelf space as garlic, pepper and sesame? They clearly they sell much faster, as there's none left by 11am. And why does the core water biscuits range only have the same space as melts and cheese triangles, when they probably make up more than half the sales? 

It's OK to offer new flavour versions of your core range, but the risk, as shown here, is that you neglect the original anchor version.

3. Get close to your in-store team

This story shows how important it is for marketing folk to get close to their in-store team and spend time with customers. First, ensure your core has a much presence as possible. Second, ensure that the basics such as out-of-stocks are being fixed.

In conclusion, do all the sexy stuff you want in marketing. But to grow the core, you need to get it right in store.