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The future of retailing has been the subject of significant speculation over recent years, particularly with the advent of direct marketing and internet shopping.

Whilst it is clear that both these areas will grow dramatically, a recent Monash University/ PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that, despite all the hype, Australian retailers are unconvinced that the future of retailing lies in the internet rather than in stores.

For the foreseeable future, most retailers will be faced with the challenge of attracting consumers to their store, persuading them to spend money once inside and achieving this with the most efficient retail operations.

Global retail trends

Internationally, the retail trade is becoming more concentrated with global retailers increasing in importance. In many countries, strong private labels put pressure on proprietary brands - an extreme example is the UK, where private label accounts for 55% of packaged grocery expenditure.

In other areas of retail, the advent of “category killers” has driven categories such as toys and babycare out of traditional trade channels and into large specialised stores.

From an operational point of view, many retailers are devoting significant effort to cutting costs out of the supply chain. The development of electronic commerce is key to this process.

In Australia

Australia has been affected by many of the trends impacting the industry worldwide. Although trade concentration is among the highest in the world, competition at store level is fierce. In the supermarket, high levels of price discounting makes the Australian grocery shopping basket amongst the cheapest in the western world. Private label, however, remains relatively underdeveloped and is actually declining on a total grocery basis.

Retaining customers and increasing customer loyalty are key marketing issues across all retail sectors. Retailers are constantly reviewing their range, service levels and opening hours to meet the needs of increasingly demanding and discerning shoppers. The use of loyalty cards, however remains underdeveloped in Australia compared to countries such as the US and the UK.

The retail challenge

Business practice in the Australian retailing industry has changed significantly in recent years. Retailers are becoming more sophisticated in their marketing strategies and need to understand the impact that their advertising and promotional activites are having on their retail brand.

At the same time, the growth of category management in recent years has changed the way retailers view and manage their business. This process is designed to grow categories by attracting new customers and increasing loyalty amongst existing shoppers via efficient ranging, promotions, shelf management and replenishment.

Whilst category management started in grocery retailing, it is now being adopted by other retail channels. Crucial to effective category management is the ability to use market information effectively to meet consumer needs, and hence drive sales and profit.

Your competitive advantage

ACNielsen has a wealth of experience in helping retailers understand their market drivers. We have a large team of executives dedicated to helping retailers understand their business via the intelligent application of marketing research to specific business issues.

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