Being Prepared or Stockpiling – How are you marketing your brand?

When does being prepared slip over into stockpiling?

With supply chain woes continuing and stock on supermarket shelves running low on certain items, what responsibility do retailers have in planning their promotions when we are in a

An all-you-can-eat type approach is not responsible marketing. Encouraging consumers to buy more than they need by stockpiling medicines, toilet paper, cans, or even frozen foods shows a lack of corporate responsibility. Where is the line between promotional activity and the good of the populous?

Supermarkets worldwide have put limits per customer on various items, including toilet paper and OTC medicines. Cans and frozen items will be the next on the list – after medicines
and toilet paper, cans and frozen are obvious categories for consumers to stockpile.

In Australia, Coles has introduced more product limits per customer to slow down shortages. Products included in the new per customer limits include painkillers and toilet paper
- added to the restricted items previously announced on meat and meat products.

As Omicron infections come ever closer to our Kiwi communities, the projected lack of available staff once Omicron hits will significantly further impact the supply chain as it has elsewhere in the world. Food shortages, both real and perceived, are the driver for stockpiling and panic buying. The most visible place that the supply chain impacts is on the supermarket shelf.

Panic buying was a feature of the first wave of COVID-19 back in 2020, but customers mostly settled their buying patterns through 2021; however, it is Omicron that has sent customers back to stockpiling and panic buying. The disruptive implications for food supply chains and the broader consumer path to purchase mean brands face a rapidly evolving landscape. Together with retailers, they must look at the best way forward. How to promote their brand while employing a socially responsible strategy.

As always, the response from the New Zealand Government on the supply chain challenges is that it is "watching" and "planning". Even though there is a draft national supply chain strategy in the works, it is not expected until the end of the year.

Like the rest of the world, New Zealand suppliers are watching how Omicron is evolving and the challenges that it is bringing, including staff shortages and the flow-on effect of product shortages.

Retailers want to sell, consumers want to buy, but there are currently stock shortages across many product categories, and there were supply chain challenges way before COVID-19's arrival. It’s time to ditch the "buy 5 for the price of 3" or "stock up now" phrasing from consumer promotions. Conscious consumerism is the way forward.

The walk has to match the talk. You can't have a spokesperson saying "we are working hard to keep products on the shelves" and "buy normally" and then have an all-out promo encouraging shoppers to stock up.

From both a socially responsible position and using plain common sense, surely if stocks are low, isn't it better to "bend the curve"? Stretch out what we have because, as we are all aware, supply chain woes and staff shortages are not going to be a quick fix.