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Marketing Matters: Marketing in a Shrinking Marketplace

By: Donna Barson
Posted: October 13, 2008

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First and foremost, marketers must create their own unique niche so that consumers are willing to follow the product in the event a retailer is lost. With so many products fighting for increasingly limited shelf space, your product must stand out. This means two things: in addition to delivering what it promises—performance—your product must be distinctive in other ways. Packaging and innovation are two obvious areas. The days of sticking a product into a dull cardboard box without promoting benefits are over.

Next, marketers must continue to develop new products. This has a dual benefit: retailers will find it difficult to cut shelf space of innovative new products and consumers will be in a state of anticipation over what comes next. Beauty consumers like newness. An ancillary benefit is that a company that continues to develop products with buzz can garner great publicity.

Third, marketers must work with retailers to stimulate sales. Of course, this has a double benefit, too; by stimulating sales of a certain product, it increases consumer traffic and other sales in general.

Marketers must become more detail-oriented and use the new devices at their disposal. New analytic tools are emerging almost daily, making processes once considered impossible, possible. Thus it becomes practicable to construct a finely detailed model of your typical consumer.


Speaking of the consumer, how should you treat this creature who has more riddles than the Sphinx? Marketers should view today’s environment as an opportunity to get closer to their consumer.

  • Set up a loyalty program. Reward consumers for their patronage. Show them that you appreciate their support.
  • Establish an electronic newsletter. Stuff it full of product news, new product teasers, and special coupons and offers that only newsletter recipients are eligible for. Create lots of buzz for your products.
  • Partner with retailers to offer special values, events and promotions that bring consumers to their stores. Treat retailers as equals—not somebody you’re forced to deal with.
  • Develop good relations with beauty editors and get more exposure for your products.
  • Employ an aggressive sampling program to encourage trial of your product. Seek out non-traditional venues for sampling. Offer samples of a men’s moisturizer at a large home store. Giveaway samples of sunscreen at a tennis tournament. Why not?