To save money, create a more simplified shopping experience, and potentially even increase sales, Walgreens, Kroger, Wal-Mart, and other stores are whittling down the options on their shelves. It’s a move that most consumers appreciate, at least in theory: Now they only have to consider 187 varieties of shampoo, rather than 248. But if it’s one of your faves removed from the shelves, that’s not cool. Don’t mess with my Franken Berry!
Our friend Betty Crocker, for example, offers five kinds of SuperMoist vanilla cake mix, including white, yellow, vanilla, French vanilla and golden vanilla. The company says each tastes a little different. Procter & Gamble produces an amazing 110 variations of Tide detergent.
Nobody seems to be bothered by a few fewer boxes of Tide. Part of me thinks that it’s the same stuff inside some of these varietals anyway, just with slightly different logos and color schemes on the boxes. But there’s a limit to how much pruning stores can do without consumer backlash:
Research shows most customers will happily accept white cake mix in lieu of vanilla, for example, but MVI retail analyst Leon Nicholas can’t forget the time when, as manager of a Maine supermarket, he yanked Franken Berry cereal from the shelves. Customers went nuts. “What about Boo Berry?” he suggested. No sale.