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Getting Your Product to Retailers

You've just spent a lot of time, energy and money creating your new product. Or maybe you're considering re-branding your existing product, or branding your current private label product. Either way, it's still "new" and, unless you're prepared to spend a lot of your own money selling directly to consumers, you now face the challenge of obtaining significant retail distribution.

 

And no matter how excited you are about your new product, recognize that breaking into the retail environment won't be easy. Retailers are risk averse, they've been hammered by the economy, they've seen consumers radically chance their buying habits, and they're still trying to deal with brick and mortar versus e-commerce issues.

 

Given these factors, what's your best opportunity for success? We believe your success centers on your first face-to-face meeting with the retail buyer.

 

That presentation must be focused on demonstrating your professionalism, and conveying how and why your product will be profitable and successful for the retailer. Here are five tips that I've learned over the past few years.

 

  1. Surround yourself with a knowledgeable sales team who can help you develop the presentation - a team that understands the category, believes in your product, and can get you in to see the right buyer in the first place. Their understanding of the retailers and the category itself is not only important as you develop your presentation, but also in putting together a financial plan that will address margins, spiffs, payment terms, quantities, and a host of other considerations to gain meaningful distribution.
  1. Your presentation must demonstrate your deep knowledge of the marketplace and how your product's benefits and price point are superior to competition. Be prepared to explain what the retailer should take off the shelf to make room for your product, and why. And be sure to back up your product claims by sampling your product with consumers and relaying the results of this testing to the buyers. Or, if you're fortunate enough to have had previous success with your unbranded product, promote your retail history.
  2. Develop marketing and marketing communications plans that are crystal clear as to how you will profitably sell to consumers. Your brand positioning is key. But so is a professionally developed communications plan. Don't be vague. Present each retailer with a customized presentation that includes:All of these tactics will show the buyer how well thought out and committed you are to making them a success.
    • A cutting edge website (and make sure that it's up and de-bugged before your meeting);
    • Dynamic packaging that is memorable, persuasive and clearly establishes your benefits over your competition;
    • Meaningful and on-going social media and public relations programs to engage your customers;
    • Impactful consumer trade shows that you'll attend to spread the word face to face, including product sampling, if possible;
    • Your rate of marketing communications spending during the critical introductory period. Include a flow chart that specifies what, where and when you'll support the introduction;
    • Commitment to analytics and market research to continually measure and meet the consumer's wants and needs.
    •  
  3. Don't leave it all up to the sales team. Bring your Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to the meeting. The CMO is much better prepared to explain why each piece of the plan will work to motivate the consumer, as well being able to answer a variety of marketing or marketing communications questions that invariably will come up. And, if you don't have a seasoned CMO on staff, consider outsourcing this discipline. Ultimately sales and marketing must possess a strong bond to each other, and to the product and its success. This must come across to the buyer.
  4. Be prepared to negotiate, and recognize that retailer acceptance won't happen overnight. Your management, manufacturing, sales and logistics must be willing to come together and, as a team, be willing to compromise to meet the needs of the retailer, as well as their own. Keep in mind that the retailer itself is faced with his own set of internal demands and, for your product to be successful, the manufacturer and the retailer must find a profitable middle ground.

 

Creating your new product is merely the first leg of a long journey for establishing a lasting and profitable brand. And the next leg of the journey is the development of a professional retailer presentation that secures the distribution you want. Surrounding yourself with seasoned professionals will help you get there. And, as Mark Twain said, "The secret to getting head is getting started".

 

Forum Publishing wants to thank Gary Kullberg, CEO of the Kullberg Consulting Group, LLC ( http://www.KullbergConsultingGroup.com ) for this wonderful article. Remember to join us monthly here at www.RetailersForum.com for the best in wholesale merchandise.