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Working with retailers

Strong relationships are key

Trade marketing is a large part of our activity – managing business-to-business relationships with the retailers who sell our products. We place as strong an emphasis on being a high quality supplier to the trade as we do on working to ensure high standards among our own suppliers.

We have around 20,000 trade marketing and distribution employees globally, who work with retailers and develop mutually beneficial partnerships.

We’re always working to ensure we are the partner of choice to the trade wherever we do business. We work to operate in the most efficient and effective way so 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 small independent shop owners.

As well as many hundreds of regional and local customers, we work with key customers at a global level, Their very large businesses are mainly in the grocery, convenience and petrol station convenience channels.

Our 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.

We recognise 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 Voice programme

We measure our retail customers’ satisfaction through our Customer Voice programme. It has been designed and developed to provide in-depth qualitative understanding of BAT’s customers. It provides us with a rich and detailed understanding of our retail customers, particularly in terms of uncovering customers’ attitudes, perceptions and ultimately the factors which drive opinions about the BAT experience.

The programme also includes an optional quantitative measurement of key metrics designed to add context to and enhance the findings of the qualitative phase where necessary.

By conducting an ongoing dialogue with customers, we better understand their issues and concerns in the changing retail environment for mutual business benefit. The study’s overall purpose is to provide essential input into BAT cycle planning, with the ultimate aim of implementing positive change where necessary to achieve business growth.

Specifically, it:

  • Creates a channel for retail customers to provide feedback and for BAT to act upon;
  • Identifies any opportunity and areas of lower performance, which can potentially be followed up with further monitoring and communication with retailers in any relevant market;
  • Assesses the satisfaction and relevancy of service provided by BAT;
  • Encourages and drives our companies’ action planning with multi-functional collaboration.

Adding value to trade relationships

We also aim to offer wider benefits through our relationships with distributors and retailers.

Tobacco trafficking, accounting for up to 600 billion illegal 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 black market activities. We help to identify traffickers 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.

Our companies work with retailers around the world in youth smoking prevention programmes, to help retailers uphold the law and block underage access to tobacco products at the point of sale.

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