KODAK CUSTOMIZES SALES FORCE FOR RETAILERS

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In a kind of reprint of what has transpired at Kraft General Foods and a growing number of manufacturers, Eastman Kodak Co. is reorganizing its sales force as it moves toward more integrated marketing.

Kodak is dispensing with a geographic sales zone structure at its U.S. Consumer Imaging unit and realigning sales people with specific channels of retail trade, including mass marketing, photo specialty, drug and food accounts.

"We will see more customized solutions for retailers, which is something they've been asking for," said Jerry Johnson, VP-national sales manager for Kodak's U.S. Consumer Imaging Division. "A grocery store stocks photographic goods for a different reason than a photo specialty retailer, whose entire livelihood depends on them. Groceries sell them as a convenience item."

He wouldn't say which major accounts would receive their own sales teams.

The company also will consolidate a management group of about 60 people, now scattered throughout the U.S., at an Atlanta-based field sales headquarters.

"What they're doing is what today's marketing needs dictate. Kodak is doing this to customize for its big accounts and to partner with them on account-specific promotions," said Paul Stanley, president, PS Productions, a Chicago-based event and promotional marketing company. "A lot of companies are."

Many companies, including Procter & Gamble Co., even have set up offices at Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., as they try to move closer to retailers. Kodak would not say if it has similar plans.

Separately, in an effort to boost Kodak's marketing strength, five new executives from marketers including Sun Microsystems and Apple Computer were hired for the Digital & Applied Imaging division.

Analysts agree the reorganized sales structure will have a gradual, positive effect on sales. The Kodak brand, under pressure from low-price competitors, needs a boost.

"It's an old truism: If you can serve the customer better, then you should gain market share," said Jack Kelly, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, New York.

"We will measure our success now by how much the retailer sells to consumers, not how much we sell to the retailer," said Kodak's Mr. Johnson.

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