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Hi, I’m Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

This is a pint of Graeter’s Ice Cream. Now, it so happens that Graeter’s is one of my favorite ice creams, but I also want to make the point that my use of the brand in this commentary is completely unsolicited, unexpected and un-endorsed. They have no idea I’m going to say what I’m about to say.

I want to use Graeter’s to make a point. Graeter’s is from Ohio and I think it is fair to say that it long has been a regional brand, though it has been expanding of late. That’s a good thing - I used to have to order pints online, which can get expensive and requires planning, though worth it. Even though I don’t eat as much ice cream as I used to, having it in the freezer is like having a security blanket. I feel better knowing it is there.

Now, it wasn’t all that long ago that I was pleased to find out that a retailer with stores closer to my Connecticut home than the company’s Cincinnati manufacturing plant is was going to be carrying Graeter’s. I could just drive down to the store and pick up a couple of pints whenever I felt like it.

Yippee.

Here’s the problem. They didn’t carry Grater’s for long. One day, the pints no longer were there, though I must say that Palmer’s, a local independent grocer, continues to carry the brand, which makes me happy.

I wondered about the other store, however. Why did Graeter’s come and go so quickly? Sales must not have been very good, and so they decided to give the space over to another brand that they could do better.

But the more I think about that, the more I wonder why sales didn’t do better. It occurs to me that I never saw any sort of promotion of the brand, or explanation of what makes it special, or rationale for why customers should try it.

It is in coming to this realization that I want to suggest that this commentary really isn’t about Graeter’s, or at least not just about Graeter’s. It really is all about the thousands of products in the store that the vast majority of consumers really don’t know all that much about, but that they might be willing to try if the retailer gave them a reason.

Now, I’ve had this conversation with retailers, and many will say that they’d do it if the manufacturer provided some financial support. I think that’s a crock.

I think that it is the manufacturer’s job to make the best product possible, to position it in the marketplace, and to promote it via advertising and marketing to the item’s target consumer.

But in the store? I think that it is the retailer’s job to explain products, to sample products, to create enthusiasm for products, to generate sales for products.

Can the manufacturer offer financial and logistical support for such efforts? Sure. They should, as best they can.

But I think that retailers have to take ownership themselves, and work hard to sell the products that differentiate them to their shoppers. It is part of bringing your A-game, which is the only game you can play if you want to win these days.

Think about it. Unless you are from Ohio or know that market somehow, if you live in Connecticut you have no idea why Graeter’s is good or different. Unless the retailer tells you, you may never know, and you may never buy it. That is a sale the retailer could’ve had, but lost.

Retailers have to not just stock products, but sell them - with enthusiasm and imagination and an understanding that this is part of what creates a compelling and differentiated store experience for the shopper, and - in this case - a delicious ice cream experience that satisfies the stomach and sometimes even soothes the soul.

That’s what is on my mind this morning. As always, I want to know what is on your mind.


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