Store wars: A tool that can help you win

With the store becoming the battleground for 'mindspace,' strong footing with retailers is essential for marketers. But it's a delicate relationship.

With the store becoming the battleground for ‘mindspace,’ strong footing with retailers is essential for marketers. But it’s a delicate relationship.

Fortunately, a business simulation training tool, called Store Wars, can help you find the love. Developed by Marcel Corstjens, professor at Insead business school near Paris, Store Wars was created to enable companies to improve their interaction with retail partners (and vice versa) and, ultimately, the ever-elusive consumer.

Now Canadian firms can get access to the four-day simulation game, which has participants breaking into five teams (three manufacturer and two retailer) to replicate both the horizontal competition and the crucial retailer-supplier negotiating process to give marketers better insight into retailers’ needs. Corstjens recently hooked up with strategy columnist and marketing consultant John Bradley to develop the program for this market.

Originally created for Insead, Store Wars turned out to be so popular that companies wanted access. So a decade ago, Corstjens created a version for the business world, which he continues to update. Big name firms have since signed up, including Kellogg, Wal-Mart, Unilever and Nestlé.

He adds: ‘For retailers, 80% of their cost is what they pay manufacturers, and [for the] manufacturer, the retailer costs 30% to 35% of sales. The relationship [only] gets tangible at the point of negotiation, and therefore they never quite understand each other. This program helps manufacturers develop a coherent strategy to deal with trade, as well as integrate the strategy of their brand together with the trade.’

Another benefit, Corstjens adds, is that it can improve the sales and marketing relationship within FMCG orgs.