Knowledge Bank Blog, Pricing & Promotions, Range & Portfolio, Channel Execution

Getting the Right Mix

On 15th May 2023 Colin Field served his last drink at the Hemingway Bar in the Paris Ritz.

It marked the end of a 30 year stint that earned him the reputation of The World’s Greatest Bartender.

He made the Hemingway a destination for discerning guests looking for the perfect drink.

Former US Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin said, “Everyone asks me what should be on their itinerary in Paris, and I always say, ‘you can’t miss Colin at the Hemingway Bar.’”

Field’s reputation was built on simple twists to classic drinks. He said, “I don’t like the fashion for having so many ingredients that customers don’t know what’s in it. The best cocktails are made with two or three ingredients max.”

His most famous was a ‘Clean Dirty Martini.’

He created an oversized ice cube made of olive juice. It sits in the pure dry martini. The drink begins crystal clear and then gains more of an olive flavour and colour with each sip.

Three ingredients. Gin. Dry vermouth. Olive juice ice cube.

It took him 10 years to perfect.

Why are we talking about this? Well, there are lots of things to deal with in our industry.

A sequence of price rises. On and off again HFSS rules. Channel shifts. Range churn. A constant stream of NPD.

You have to deal with one thing. Then move onto the next thing. Then the next thing.

It’s like a bartender with ten drinks to make. They just have to focus on the pouring. Make the drink. Then the next one. Then the next.

They make the drinks. But are they the best drinks they could mix?

Sometimes you need to take a step back. To look at all the things that you’re doing. The NPD you are launching. The promotions that you’re running. The distribution you’re targeting.

To ask yourself whether you’re pouring or you’re mixing?

So, how can you do this.

The right PRODUCT MIX. Pouring means constantly adding to the range in a category. You pour more plant based products into the market. More wellness products. More added benefit products. More flavours. Keep pouring and you end up with 40 different types of mayonnaise.

They are often products that you want to sell rather than ones shoppers want to buy.

Mixing means taking a step back. Understanding the sales mix in the category. The segments, types and flavours that are selling. Then asking if the product mix reflects the sales mix. Then, if not, looking at how to adjust the mix so that it does.

A product mix that leads to a better end result. For the category. For retailers. For brands. For shoppers.

The right PRICING MIX. Pouring means trying to cover all possible price points in a category. Retailers pour more tertiary brands into the market. Brands worry about a trade down to private label, so pour lower priced options into the range. Then they worry they haven’t got enough trade up options so start pouring a few premium products as well.

Keep pouring and you move from a simple 3 step (good, better, best) pricing ladder to one with about 7 or 8 rungs. A ladder that most shoppers don’t have the inclination to climb.

Mixing means having fewer price tiers. It means having a clear distinction between those tiers. It means giving shoppers a clear choice between tiers. It means having confidence in your proposition. That enough shoppers will make a choice based on value (they will…) not just price.

A pricing mix that leads to a better end result. For the category. For retailers. For brands. For shoppers.

The right CHANNEL MIX. Pouring means trying to get everything everywhere. Value stores are growing, so you pour more products in. Amazon has lots of reach, so you pour more products in. Supermarkets want to differentiate, so you pour more products in.

The risk is channel complexity. Range complexity. Pricing complexity.

Mixing means looking across channels and retailers. Being clear on the role that different channels play in the mix. It means having genuine differentiation between channels. Different propositions. Different formats. Different pack sizes. Not just ten different flavours in ten different retailers.

A channel mix that leads to a better end result. For the category. For retailers. For brands. For shoppers.

You can apply this thinking to lots of areas. Your promotional mix. Your innovation mix. Your communication mix.

If you want to do something quickly – pour. If you want to do something properly – mix.

Right, whose round is it…?

Feel free to forward. Have a great weekend. Speak to you in fortnight.