Handbook of Research on Retailing
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Handbook of Research on Retailing

Edited by Katrijn Gielens and Els Gijsbrechts

The advent of e-commerce and the rise of hard discounters have put severe pressure on traditional retail chains. Boundaries are blurring: traditional brick & mortar players are expanding their online operations and/or setting up their own discount banners, while the power houses of online retail are going physical, and hard discounters get caught up in the Wheel of Retailing. Even successful companies cannot sit back and rest, but need to prepare for the next wave of change. In the face of this complexity, it is all the more important to take stock of current knowledge, based on insights and experience from leading scholars in the field. What do we know from extant studies, and what are the ensuing best practices? What evolutions are ahead, and will current recipes still work in the future? This Handbook sheds light on these issues.
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Chapter 18: Retailer power in the grocery industry

Inge Geyskens


Retailers have become the gatekeepers to shoppers, the end users of CPG products. A relative handful of retailers now controls access to enormous numbers of consumers. This situation is a far cry from the 1960s and 1970s, when big CPG manufacturers bossed around much smaller retailers. This chapter provides an overview of why retailers are in the driving seat. It distinguishes between two sources of retailer power: growing retailer scale, and growing retailer sophistication. Retailers have grown in scale through internationalization, a consolidating wave of mergers and acquisitions, and buying group membership. However, the playing field is tilted further in favor of large retailers than is indicated by their sheer size. Retailers have grown into sophisticated businesses, that are growing organically through multi-channel operations and that have become competitors to their suppliers by selling private labels.

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