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Study: Supply Chain Seeks Consumer-based Data;Distributors are Key Facilitators of Category Managem

WILTON, CT - A survey of foodservice supply chain business relationships conducted by Cannondale, Inc., has demonstrated that solution-based, consumer-centric drivers are some of the most important leadership traits among top manufacturers and operators.

"Operators state that best-in class manufacturers provide consumer solutions and deliver innovative marketing support in addition to the highest quality products. Manufacturers, on the other hand, want operators to have effective marketing support and differentiate themselves versus their competition," according to the study's authors.

Though foodservice distributors were not queried for this project, many of the insights drawn from the study can be influential in building their sales as they build their operator-customers' businesses. For example, DSRs should pay close attention to the study's finding that "operators want to understand their consumers and increase sales (improve satisfaction) by over-delivering on product quality and service. Operators are looking for consumer trends as well as how and why people buy items. While manufacturers and operators may differ on what insights are most important, there is no question that the consumer is at the heart of success within foodservice today."

Distributor, manufacturer and operator speakers at numerous ID Updates have emphasized the importance of sharing consumer-based intelligence throughout the supply chain. At the same time the annual ID Industry Leaders studies have also shown that distributors highly rate these same leadership characteristics among their suppliers.

Sven C. Risom, partner at Cannondale, told ID Access that foodservice distributors, being in the middle of the supply chain, should be the facilitators and drivers of this data-gathering and dissemination process. Distributors should be proactive in acquiring consumer intelligence, consumer products and innovative new products from manufacturers and then pass them on to their operator-customers via their DSRs.

"Distributors need to get from manufacturers rationale, insight and leadership programs that they can give to their DSRs. The people they're selling to deserve better category, consumer-based insights. Distributors should start pushing the manufacturer for this kind of information because the operators want it. That's the critical thing," Risom said.

Category management has become the new buzzword for success in the foodservice industry with many supplier and distributors adopting such processes. (See Karen J. Ribler’s article in the Nov. 7, 2003, edition of ID Report

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