But regional distributor Al Seer still just about remains in touch with the leading pack of multinationals showing that strong local brands are still important to shoppers and retailers.
The findings come from the annual Voice of the Trade survey for the UAE by Kantar Retail Middle East, which asks UAE retailers to rank suppliers in a range of criteria.
Nestlé’s score of 50% in the overall “best of the best” composite was an improvement of 36 points on last year, helping it to complete a trinity of dominant suppliers with Unilever (72%) and P&G (71%).
But Al Seer came a respectable fourth, with a score of 30%, up 11 points on its 2012 score. Al Seer also came fourth in the questions about which suppliers had the brands most important to retailers, with retailers praising their “excellent depth of products across a number of categories”, and Clearest Company Strategy. The distributor’s sophisticated discussion material and involvement of some principal brands were highlighted as the reason for its improved score.
The position of Al Seer is impressive in a country where much of the population is composed of expats with globally recognised brands able to build trust in shoppers more easily. The importance of these established brands increased this year as retailers focus on sustainable category growth and the marketing and innovative expertise that multinational organisations can offer. P&G and Unilever came joint top in this area with 88% and Nestlé third at 58%.
The survey – now in its second year – was conducted with some of the largest grocery retailers in the UAE, asking them to assess the most important aspects of their trading relationships with suppliers and rate which ones perform the best.
The findings make essential reading for suppliers wanting to build closer relationships with retailers in the UAE. The survey reveals three distinct opportunities for suppliers:
· Insight expertise: Retailers are turning to suppliers with strong credentials in loyalty programmes to marry up specific shopper data with regional and global category and shopper trends.
· ‘Value Add’ Teams: Sales teams must now be able to bring information and ideas that drive the business in the modern age, such as knowing their companies digital strategy and technological innovations to improve logistics efficiency.
· Innovation leadership: suppliers must be seen as innovators in their marketing, NPD, and in-store activities to be perceived as ‘traffic drivers’ by retailers.
The UAE market continues to develop at one of the fastest rates within the Gulf region and whilst new store growth has slowed over the last few years, supermarket chains are opening smaller store formats. Carrefour, Spinneys, Chotihrams and Lulu opened a number of convenience stores in areas that would normally be serviced by more traditional grocery outlets. The challenge for suppliers is how to serve retailers at both a central and store level.
Andy Williams, Regional Director – Kantar Retail Middle East, said: “It would appear that retailers in this market are increasingly expecting strategic conversations at head office level. As loyalty becomes more important they will naturally welcome the sharing of insight from suppliers as they look to make sense of their own shopper and sales out data. However, suppliers must remember the basics and any top level initiatives must be supported by an efficient supply chain and strong operational team.”
Andrew Mardon, Senior Consultant – Kantar Retail Middle East, said: “It is interesting to see how the collective assessment of suppliers has changed versus the previous year’s survey. Whilst the dominant players remain in a strong position there are some other major International companies who have moved up the rankings. This is strong evidence that making focused changes in the way that suppliers approach their relationships with retailers can make an impact in a relatively short period of time.
“For suppliers who understand what retailers value there is an opportunity to strengthen business relationships in a way that is beneficial to both the supplier and the retailer. The joint initiatives they create will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the UAE shopper experience too.”
Kantar Retail launches the 2012 Voice of the Trade UAE report at an event in Dubai on 14 April 2013.
Tuesday, April 16- 2013 @ 14:47 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.