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Regionality is something that I’ve always found fascinating. The differences in the different products that sell in different places around the country – and the reasons why – are something that I’m always intrigued by when visiting different parts of the UK.
Irn Bru has an obvious heartland in Scotland (as do all Barr products) but also sells well in the north-west of England, and during a recent conversation with representatives from confectionery company Perfetti van Melle it was revealed that the differences in sales of certain products around the country was startling.
However the most obvious changes can be seen on the tobacco gantry. The differences here can change almost from postcode to postcode, as neighbouring areas cater for hugely differing consumer bases. I only need to travel five minutes from my own house to see stores where the main focus moves from premium Marlboro products to a value Lambert & Butler offering.
JTI specifically launched Winston within the M25 area last year, while smokers of other products in London stand the chance of not seeing their products on shelf in the Midlands or the North.
It’s not just the products that could vary from region to region though, if all of the intended changes to tobacco legislation go through. I was chatting with a representative from one of the leading tobacco companies this week, who made the very valid point that with the final details of the consultation in England expected next week, draft regulations for Wales and Northern Ireland due to be published shortly and the Scottish parliament consultation to be published in March and lasting for three months, that not only will all four areas of Great Britain adopt display bans at different times, but that the details could all be vastly different.
Everything from what posters or promotional material you’re allowed to display in store to the size of the doors covering your display, from the size of the font on the price-labels to the location of the price-lists; the differences could be huge.
How do larger symbol group operators, who may have stores across the nation, write a training plan when the details of what they are training could be so different from region to region? How much money would this cost? Who could end up paying?
‘Seriously concerned’ is how the representative I spoke to described himself. You can see why.
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