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Inside The Mind Of A FMCG Retail Buyer

by Master Fool

When having a “face-off” with retail buyers, suppliers often find themselves frustrated to their wits end. I mean WHAT THE HELL ARE BUYERS THINKING? Have you ever wondered that? To actually get a glimpse of what is inside the mind of a FMCG retail buyer would probably help you get an upper hand on the negotiation and make the best of the situation. Often both parties are just protecting their own interests or employer’s interest for that matter but the first step in any given war as what Sun Tzu once said, “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster”. Therefore, just understanding where your company, your product and you stand may not be sufficient to win a battle.

In this article, I’m going to cover a what is likely is going on inside the mind of a FMCG retail buyer. To understand the situation and common issues that a key account (also known as a sales person in FMCG industry) often face when interacting with a FMCG retail buyer

Scenario 1

You’ve been calling him/her for days end. Your boss and the marketing team is pushing for an answer and your FMCG retail buyer is just not picking up his/her phone. You text, you call the office line and you call the handphone but no answer. You think he/she could have texted you back but did not. So irresponsible, you think.

Most likely what the FMCG retail buyer is thinking – One word. Busy. Retail buyers are often tied up fire-fighting everyday. Some FMCG retail buyers maybe handling a small portfolio but their company could have a handful of paperwork. Who doesn’t you may think. Whilst this is true, your emergency does not equal to theirs hence they need to prioritize their task and not answering or texting you back very highly likely means your case is not an emergency in their to-do list. Also, while their portfolio maybe small, they may need to manage issues from various branches depending on the number of outlets that the retail store has. Meanwhile, some FMCG retail buyers handle a very big portfolio but have lesser branches to manage. But that would only mean they have more suppliers to manage. Some categories may only have 2 or 3 major players but that does not mean that the smaller players need lesser attention.

Scenario 2

Its your first time filling up a form and suddenly you get a phone call from your buyer blowing you off. Its your first time making the mistake, can’t they just tell you nicely instead of being emotional?

Most likely what the FMCG retail buyer is thinking – Try explaining the same thing to different people countless of times. Yes, humans make mistakes all the time but when the mistakes are repeated through albeit through different people they can easily get on your nerves too. It doesn’t help when other suppliers are hounding him/her, him/her boss just gave him/her an earful, emergency cases are popping out and then there’s this!

Scenario 3

You’ve forked out a huge budget to support them and he/she snickers on your face that this budget is peanuts

Most likely what the FMCG retail buyer is thinking – While it may be a huge investment number to you but he/she’s probably seen bigger budget numbers. Not overselling your budget but don’t downplay the investment budget is the key. Retail buyers do not appreciate it when the key account brags and oversells something

Scenario 4 

He/She promises you that your product will be listed but in the final hours disappears leaving you in the lurch not informing you (the very least) that your product has not been listed and most likely will not be listed

Most likely what the FMCG retail buyer is thinking – While some buyers keep their promises but let’s get real here, there are buyers that don’t take their own words seriously so you shouldn’t as well. The key is getting to know what sort of person he/she is. Although different people may have different opinions of what sort of person he/she is, the general census are rarely inaccurate

What are the other situations that you face and would like to know what your retail buyer is thinking? Leave your comment down here and I will try to answer them!

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