the meeting before the meeting

Yup.  It happens to the best of us.  Even at the bullseye, we can have our Michael Scott moments and do silly things like have meetings before meetings just to get ready for the meeting.  Now don’t get me wrong – Target is an entirely unique place to work {Fortune mag’s #22 “World’s Most Admired Companies” for 2013, holla!} yet even the most innovative workplaces can find themselves embodying orthodox tenants of corporate America cubicle culture.  *shrug*  I guess it’s why we can all relate to Dilbert.

So yes, this week I’m having some meetings before some meetings.  However, since I like to pride myself as an autonomous thinker who isn’t afraid to say “no thanks” to frivolous calendar invites, I would like to caveat that these pre-meetings are not your ordinary pre-meetings… they’re pre-line review-meetings.

L I N E  R E V I E W  [layhn ri-vyoo] : noun

  1. Process in which a buyer makes a decision about what products to put on the shelf
  2. Process in which items are considered for an upcoming assortment change

Line reviews are one of many ways to get new items into a Target near you.  Depending on the category, buyers have one or many line reviews per year and the process comes in all different shapes + sizes.

Competitive line reviews [CLRs] are meant to be, well, competitive {albeit respectful + fair…} and are best suited for commodity businesses where there is little product differentiation.  The events are usually short.  Items are chosen in a day or after a series of events in a week.  I’ve never experienced a real one for myself, but there’s a pretty realistic CLR simulation in the negotiations week of buyer training {which is hands down the best week of training, holla to the Target negotiations team!}.  Even in the faux context of Vendor A and Vendor B, the CLR can be a sweat-inducing heart-pounding situation for both sides of the table.  That said, it’s a highly efficient way to get to the best offer possible.

Assortment Line Reviews [ALRs] are more fluid and can have several rounds of negotiating.  Over the course of weeks/months, buyers meet with various vendors to view product, discuss margins, and talk strategy for merchandising + marketing.  This all happens while POG (click for more detail) is open, so buyers can whittle their options down as they try different renderings in person and actually set samples on the shelf next to items that will carry forward into the next season.  For visual people like me… this is mucho helpful.

Pre-line review meetings are imperative for big vendor partnerships.  Smaller, non-incumbent vendors typically have less items to review and may not actually have something new every single season.  Big brands, on the other hand, not only have new things consistently in the works but they also are open to intaking what merchants believe should be in the production pipeline.  Pre-line reviews are a chance for buyers to proactively work with vendors on what the big bets for the following year will be.  It’s a chance to negotiate exclusives or custom ideas.  It’s also a chance to politely say, “no thanks” and direct manufacturers away from anything that does not fit in the buyer’s strategy.  It’s a way to provide feedback + direction before production and create alignment early.

It is indeed a meeting before a meeting.

But don’t worry, I didn’t set up any meetings before these meetings to get ready for this particular meeting before the meeting. 🙂

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4 Replies to “the meeting before the meeting”

  1. Wow! Lots of info and hilarious to hear about the meetings-before-meetings dilemma that plagues so very many of us. I learned a lot from this and feel like I now have an honorary MBA…right?!

  2. So much info in just a single article just wow :O

    Keep up the good work!

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