What Can Top Food Brand Product Managers Do To Get More Shelf Space?

by drjim on July 16, 2018

In the world of grocery stores, success is all about how much shelf space you have

In the world of grocery stores, success is all about how much shelf space you have
Image Credit: Meghan Hess

There are few product manager jobs that come with as much brand name recognition as those jobs that are associated with the top food brands. We’re talking about being a product manager for a really big company like Kraft Heinz, Kellog, and Mondelez. However, in order to be a successful big food product manager you need to have a lot of shelf space in each grocery store. However, shelf space is what is going away for these product managers. This isn’t going to look good on anyone’s product manager resume. What can they do about it?

The Problem With Being A Top Food Brand

So just exactly what seems to be the problem here? It turns out that the top food brands have been in a bit of a sales slump for the past few years. What this means is that the amount of shelf space that they can command in a grocery store is very important to any turn-around effort that they are going to be making. The problem that these product managers are starting to run into is that the people who run the grocery stores are choosing to display other types of products. This is not good for the product manager’s product development definition.

What’s going on in grocery stores is that they are choosing to give more space to items such as fresh food, prepared hot meals, and food items that they buy from local upstarts and not the top food companies. The reason that the grocery stores are making these decisions is because it is more in line with their increasingly health conscious shoppers. Every grocery store only has so much shelf space to use and they need to find ways to maximize their return on what shelf space they do have.

When a grocery store builds a new store these days, what they are doing is allocating less space to traditional packaged foods which are generally located in the center aisles. Instead, they are building space for in-store restaurants and places where fresh meals can be created that shoppers will be able to take home. Customers have told the grocery stores that what they are looking for is a quick meal. The end result of all of this is that there is less shelf space for the top food brands. Additionally, at the same time the top food brands are facing increased competition from store brands and smaller upstarts.

How The Top Food Brands Can Win Back Shelf Space

The challenge for top food brand product managers is to find ways to get customers to once again take the time to walk through a grocery store’s center aisles. They are in the process of trying out a number of different approaches to make this happen. One of the first things that they have done when they saw how grocery stores were changing the layout of the store was to look for ways to get their products into the store’s fresh and prepared food sections. However, the grocery stores are pushing back because they believe that if they overrun their perishables with the big packaged brands, then they will lose their competitive edge.

The larger grocery store chains are aware of the problems that the top food brands are having. What these chains are now doing is going back to the top food brands and pressuring them to lower their prices in order to once again make their products more attractive. That is one way to get more customers, but the product managers know that in the long run they are going to have to become more creative.

Product managers know that one way they can increase the profitability of their products is by making changes internally. That’s why there is a lot of consolidation and cost-cutting going on right now. In situations like this, another approach to reducing the cost of operating is to acquire another company that makes top food brands. If you can combine two companies together, the product manager thinking is that you can lower your cost of operations. This means that now product managers have to always be on the outlook for firms that they may want to take over.

What All Of This Means For You

In the world of product managers, there are very few jobs that come with as much glamor as those of the top food brands. These product managers represent the brands that we all know and love: chips, cereal, cookies, etc. However, as grocery stores start to change how they arrange their stores, the amount of shelf space that is allocated to the top food brands is shrinking. What does their product manager job description tell these product managers to do?

What is happening is that customers are starting to become more health conscious. The result of this is that they are now going to the grocery store in search of a meal, not traditional packaged foods. This means that the grocery stores are allocating more room to in-store restaurants and stations that can prepare fresh meals. When new grocery stores are being built, there is less room being allocated for traditional packaged foods. The top food brand product managers know that they have a problem. They are being pressured to cut their prices in order to lure back customers. They are also trying to enter into the store’s fresh and prepared food sections. However, they need to reduce their operating expenses and they are looking at the possibility of buying up other companies in order to make this happen.

Top food product managers have a real challenge on their hands. However, this challenge has been many years in the making. These product managers are going to have to take a long hard look at their products and find ways to get them to meet the expectations of health-conscious consumers. If they can make this happen, then customers will once again start to wander the middle aisles at grocery stores and seek out their products.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there is any way to get top food brands included in the prepared food section of a grocery store?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Just about every town that we live in has a mall. The mall has a collection of stores that if we need a specific thing, we know that we can visit the mall to get. There are generally food courts and movie theaters there also that cause us to visit the mall. Malls just seem to always be there. Until they aren’t. It turns out that malls can fail and just go away. The product managers who are in charge of the mall have a real challenge here. What makes a mall fail and how can a product manager change their product development definition to avoid this happening to their mall?

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