The retailer’s power: a major buyer’s view on market developments

While larger sizes or club packs are growing across all segments due to e-commerce, the American market is also seeing a steady increase in private label products with premium branded quality across  channels. Below is an extra from Patrick Boateng’s interview for TWM’s “Focus Report:USA” supplement magazine.

FR/1: What trends are you seeing in the American retail market in terms of tissue?
“Larger sizes or club packs are growing across all segments due to e-commerce. We’re also seeing an increase in private label products with premium branded quality across channels. There’s a growing consumer base that places a high value on cost and quality.”

FR/2: Do you see more and more private label products in America? 
“Yes, because major retailers are using private label as a technique to provide value to their customers. Private label products rank well among consumers. UltraPremium products for example are no longer exclusive to National Brands. Once retailers identify features their customers value most, products are redesigned accordingly to provide value to their customers without sacrificing the quality of the products.”

FR/3: How are economic conditions impacting the choice of tissue purchasing in America? 
“I would like to answer this question by saying that in spite of the high consumer confidence level, there are more consumers that would like to shop based on personal choice. This often depends on one’s income level. Also, some consumers would like to purchase lower cost items to save money so they can spend in other discretionary areas. Good deals appeal to customers all the time but especially during harsh economic situations. The industry has become addicted to deals and promotions.”

FR/4: With e-commerce becoming increasingly popular, what trends do you forecast? 
“Investment in promising multi-channel platforms, infrastructure and technology advancement, more personalised marketing, use of data to create enhanced customer experience, and more customer-centric products that are based around value, affordability and authenticity.

“Digital and online marketing is an ever-changing key driver for the tissue and retail sectors. Retailers are using advanced technologies and online to better serve customers. Supply chain transparency and value stream efficiencies are vital; for example, in order to ensure transparency of its supply chain, Target Supermarket has published its entire global suppliers on its website. This type of strategy in the retail market is having a substantial impact on north America’s Tissue Paper Category.”

FR/5: What does Amazon.com’s purchase of Whole Foods mean for the tissue market? 
“The purchase will intensify the already highly competitive market. The net effect is pressure on price which will force third party suppliers in the industry, including tissue suppliers to be more efficient not only in the delivery of service but find sustainable ways of slashing cost.”

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