How Mars Petcare drove category growth with Trax

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How Mars Petcare drove category growth with Trax

The retail landscape is evolving. With the huge shift of shoppers to e-commerce in recent years, CPG companies are recognizing the importance of building scalable strategies both in-store and online. To be effective and future-proof, Mars Petcare, a global enterprise with over 50 brands in the petcare segment, turned to Trax’s shelf insights and dynamic merchandising solutions to stimulate growth.

Keeping up with a changing retail landscape

Mars is a global company operating in more than 80 countries with over a hundred thousand associates. Petcare, which is Mars’ largest segment, aims to make the world a better place for pets through a number of brands such as Cesar, Pedigree, Royal Chain, and Sheba, among others. However, the brand’s growth was affected due to challenges such as proliferation of products and stagnant audience sizes. To overcome these hurdles, Mars turned to Trax.

SKU Proliferation
Increasingly, there has been significant item expansion into the petcare category with new brand entrances and brands shifting across channels in the past two years. With such mass SKU proliferation, shoppers are often overwhelmed and navigate the aisle based on color alone and simply deselect the rest of the aisle. As a result, shoppers don’t always notice the myriad of available options, preventing manufacturers from driving awareness of their products on the shelf and in turn losing the opportunity to make a sale.

The need to upgrade to premium items

Category consumption in some areas (like the dry dog category) is over 90%, the pet population is flat and stagnant, and the dog sizes are declining with people preferring smaller sized pets. This means there is no opportunity to attract new shoppers, and there is a need to convert existing shoppers to buy more premium offerings. And the place to do this is at the shelf, since as much as 96% of purchases are made in the aisle, making shelf execution extremely vital and critical for success.

Challenges of the circular multi-stage process
Mars created a circular, multi-stage process to place the shopper and their needs at the core. The process sought to understand shopping behavior and how the company can drive shelf conversion through optimal execution tactics. The company then used the information to drive that execution on shelves through its associates in collaboration with retailers.

Since it is a cyclical process, Mars aimed to obtain the best intelligence at the shelf to drive improvement. To achieve this, the company developed a Perfect Store program. However, while the Perfect Store program allowed Mars to continue collaborating with the field and working with retailers to drive execution by looking at the planogram, the latter couldn’t provide a complete picture and Mars was unable to truly see what the shoppers were seeing in stores.

How Trax helped Mars ‘perfect’ the program

Measuring compliance
Mars has a set of well-established core KPIs. Trax used the KPIs to develop custom algorithms to calculate KPI compliance. The data from shelf images was analyzed using Trax technology to determine what was compliant and what wasn’t. Mars was able to understand gaps in compliance and get a visual representation through the Trax dashboards that made it easy for the company to view and action the results. In addition, Trax also provided the brand access to Nielsen sales data, so Mars could analyze the results from Trax within the sales context to understand the true impact of each compliance measure.

Thanks to Trax’ insights, Mars achieved an 11% pet category sales lift and +118 lift in the dry dog velocity index. Mars also witnessed a three-fold increase in captaincies from the first year to the third year which helped to grow category sales across top customers during that period from $6.8 to $7.1.

Mars’s subsidiaries also witnessed a significant increase; retailers’ Mars shares increased across the three-year period from 20.3% in Y1 to 27.4% in Y3.

Sales tool to strengthen relationship with retailers
The data also helped Mars as a sales tool for retailers. By gaining an understanding of what was happening at the shelf, Mars was able to share the insights with retailers that could help them grow the category.

Collaborating with Trax provided Mars with ‘eyes in the store’ and constant, real-time data. The company could see what the shoppers were seeing and gained improved visibility into thousands of retail stores about how well the brand was executing, and how it could improve further.

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