We build mutually beneficial relationships with our trade partners
Trade marketing is a large part of our activity - managing business-to-business relationships with the retailers from whom our consumers buy. We place as strong an emphasis on being a high quality supplier to the trade as we do on working to ensure high standards amongst our own suppliers.
We aim to become the benchmark partner to the trade in the strategic channels where we do business. We work to operate in the most efficient and effective way so that retailers can offer the products our consumers want to buy, where they want them, when they want them, at the right quality, price and quantity.
It is the nature of our industry that we do business with a substantial cross section of customers, ranging from the largest retail corporations to the small independent shop owner.
As well as many hundreds of regional and local customers, we have 9 key customers managed at a global level: 7-Eleven, BP, Carrefour, Chevron Texaco, Couchetard, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Tesco and Walmart. Their very large businesses are mainly in the grocery, convenience and petrol station convenience channels.
Our ‘win win win’ approach
Our approach is based on building mutually beneficial relationships, characterised by integrity, with our trade partners globally, regionally and locally.
Our aim is not just to focus on our own goals, but to engage with senior management of partner companies for a good mutual understanding of each other’s global strategies and to identify potential areas of alignment and cooperation. We also aim to offer our trade partners a comprehensive insight into consumer preferences and buying behaviour in the tobacco category, providing useful analysis of the category as a whole.
We call this our ‘win win win’ approach - recognising that for a successful relationship and mutual benefit, there has to be a win for the three key stakeholders: our consumers, our customers and our business.
Customer satisfaction research
For several years, our companies have commissioned an independent customer satisfaction survey among key distribution and retail partners, providing feedback on service quality and other aspects of our business relationship. In 2010, the survey was enhanced to include new methodologies, providing greater focus and allowing it to be coordinated globally by an independent research agency.
The survey covers several of our largest markets. In each market, it benchmarks British American Tobacco against our major local tobacco competitor and the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) supplier considered the best locally in serving the same retailers.
Quality of our service is covered across key areas including:
- Trade marketing support;
- Product distribution;
- Overall quality; and
- Customer engagement.
The most recent results for 2010 rate British American Tobacco as the best company overall in 16 of 31 markets surveyed. We were also identified as the best overall company on trade marketing support in 17 of 31 markets surveyed.
Adding value to trade relationships
We also aim to offer wider benefits through our relationships with distributors and retailers.
The illicit trade in tobacco products, estimated at some 300 billion cigarettes a year, harms the business of legitimate distributors and retailers. Our strong focus on tackling contraband and counterfeit aims to ensure that our business supports only the legitimate tobacco trade.
Our companies must have effective ‘know your customer’ controls and will cease to supply customers who are knowingly or recklessly involved in illicit trade activities. We help to identify illicit traders of our brands through intelligence gathering and investigation and have an authentication device on our products so that counterfeits can be identified for enforcement agencies to confiscate them.
You can find out more in How we tackle illicit trade.
Our companies work internationally with retailers in youth smoking prevention programmes, to help retailers uphold the law and block under age access to tobacco products at the point of sale. Find out more in Working with retailers.
Read Adding value to the retail relationship for some more examples of how we work with retailers.