So you’ve spent months perfecting you pitch, explaining how all the latest trends and consumer insights point to your product becoming the next big thing, and your Buyer is still sitting there with a poker face, showing no intent of actually listing your brand? Then here’s 4 tips to seal the deal…
1. Prove your rate of sale
Buyers are naturally risk averse when it comes to new brands and always want proof of what you’ll sell so they don’t end up with dead space on shelf, overstocks in depot and, on fresh, a high wastage bill.
This is not just about just sharing the sales data in independents with the Buyer in e.g. Wholefoods, or sales in Wholefoods with the Buyer in e.g. Tesco – that’s just the start. Its about using this to model what you will sell in Tesco once you are actually listed.
Try doing this 2 ways – bottom up, looking at how you may want to increase or decrease your forecast based on your brand/retailer fit, how many other competitor brands there are for your consumer, what is your anticipated pricing and consumer traffic?
This can get a little complicated, so you can usually balance things by also looking top down – what are the total category sales in your chosen retailer? What does the #1 brand sell & what category share do you anticipate?
The key here is coming up with something appealing to the Buyer, but more important than that, something which is credible and realistic. And it does not need to be massive, as long as its incremental (see tip 3)
2. Prove their Shoppers want you
Traction in other retailers is really important, but what can really set you apart is being able to show that shoppers in the supermarket you are selling to are crying out for your brand.
You can do this in a number of ways – if you’ve managed to build up a couple of hundred subscribers to your newsletter or on Facebook then think about reaching out with a survey or trying to get some real customer quotes.
Much more powerful than this, though, is investing in an established consumer panel e.g. VYPR which can provide robust insights from hundreds of shoppers, and will give the Buyer a more independent view which they’ll trust. Its not that expensive either - VYPR offer annual subscriptions specifically for small businesses, or if you only need a couple of questions answering then Optima can help with this.
As part of my research for a recent pitch I asked shoppers of the Supermarket I was pitching to whether having more choices of foods from a particular region would persuade them to spend more in the category and 70% said yes. Only the brand I was working with (Capsicana) delivered this and it made a hugely compelling foundation for the pitch. Not surprisingly Capsicana is launching in another major retailer near you soon!
VYPR panel, filtered by Retailer X - What would persuade you to buy more Latin American products?
3. Prove you will grow the whole category
Much as you need to prove your brand will sell, this is no good to the Buyer if it all it does is steal from a competitor and has no effect on TOTAL category sales. In fact it does not need to be the best seller, as long as you can either a) attract new shoppers to the category or b) trade existing ones up.
Maple Syrup, Tabasco sauce and Camp Coffee are never going to top the sales charts in their respective categories, but they are listed in deep distribution because they are UNIQUE. If a retailer takes them out they will lose sales as nothing can replace them and shoppers will go elsewhere.
Consumer panels can help here too, both in the early stages of product development (Grocer example) and also to understand who will buy your product. If you can prove it’s a demographic that retailer is trying to grow, then this will strengthen your case. You can also use them to test different price points and build an argument that your brand will trade significant number of shoppers up – again growing the whole category.
4. Tell the Retailer what they should delist to get you in
Finally - be clear that retailers do not have elastic shelves – you only get listed if one of your competitors get delisted, and showing the Buyer how they can simplify their range & create space in their category always helps your case.
Obviously low selling products are prime targets, but getting Category sales data to know what these are can be expensive. There is another way though – in most categories there is enough easily accessible public information available to build up a rough ranking of the best selling brands (try The Grocer category reports, or Mintel reports at the British Library).
Once you have this then start looking for duplication in the retailer’s range. Supermarket ranging should be very sophisticated, with each product should be playing a specific role and extending meaningful choice for a specific group of shoppers. But there are nearly always some ‘me-too’ products on the shelves – multiple similar products at the same price point, or size/flavour variants of the same brand. Combine this with your first list and you should quickly be able to find some products which could make way for your brand.
Much as you love your brand, the only thing that matters is what the Buyer thinks so put yourself in the their shoes. All they really care about total category performance, so its crucial to think in those terms, spend some time finding the proof points above and you will stand a much better chance of getting the listings you want. Good Luck!
Masterclass 23rd August
For more support in building your distribution and growing your brand, we are running an evening masterclass in London on How to Sell to Supermarkets, based on Simon’s 20 years experience working in the trade, including over 10 as a Buyer for Tesco and Sainsburys.
This includes a detailed review of how and when Supermarkets actually buy, how to create a killer pitch, where to source all the insights to back this up and how to approach negotiations to get the deal you want; as well as live case study (we could pick your brand!) and extensive Q&A.
For more details please click here…