The natural food & beverages channel is a booming industry in the USA as consumers are becoming more motivated and concerned about what they consume and put into their bodies. It is an innovative network of supermarkets defined by SPINS as having at least 40% of sales from natural/organic/specialty products. The channel includes co-ops, associations, independents, large regional chains and they are marketplaces where shoppers go to experience new and exciting products with the assurance that the store has done their own due diligence on the brands who are only stocking the healthiest products around. Ultimately, the natural channel is a breeding ground for innovation and defines the standards for the industry.
Getting into these stores is a great way to establish a new product with a targeted shopper setting you up for larger channels in the future. But the question is, how can you get your product into the natural channel and which stores are a good fit with your brand? Leveraging our network of brands brands, distributors and buyers we are sharing some of their tips and tricks on how to get your product into natural stores;
Know what the store is looking for
Scanning the shelves of your target stores is a good way to understand the types of products they range and where your brand and new product can fit in. Take a look at the packaging, ingredients, dynamics of the category and even the instore café – this is often the engine for setting trends in specialty natural grocers. Do your brand values align with the stores? Do you have a product that adds something to the current category portfolio rather than replacing what is already there? Working out your brands role will help you decide which stores to partner with to grow your product and their category.
Prepare a convincing pitch
Natural food buyers are motivated by two things – variety and velocity. Ultimately, buyers are looking to grow categories and are looking for brands that can partner with them to achieve this. To appeal to the buyer, brands need to demonstrate why their product offers true innovation that is different, interesting and new and show how they will add variety to the shopper’s category experience. If you have a differentiated and data driven story, you’ll also need to demonstrate how you are going to reduce the risk for your buyer if they decide to range your brand. This is about generating consumer demand for the product and having a plan for retail to do this.
Meet in person to stand out
The larger natural grocers have a vendor application process that brands need to follow but many regional and independent stores are prepared to hold meetings on Zoom these days. However, getting to a store in person means you can be far more memorable, demonstrate commitment to your brand and the partnership you are wanting to create.
Find a distributor specializing in natural foods
There are many distributors that specialize in natural foods. Choosing the right one is an essential step in setting up the success of your brand in the future. Once you have defined your consumer and market finding a distributor will make it easier for your product to make it to the right stores and stay stocked. When choosing a distribution partner there are a couple of consideration such as finding a partner that is the right size for your brand, has the expertise in your product area, shares the same values as your natural product brand and services the stores your shoppers are visiting. Finding the right distributor means your product will be stocked and ready for your consumer to find.
Build market velocity with your consumer base
Getting on shelf is one thing staying on shelf is another. Having a plan that will create awareness, buzz and demand for your product in and out of store will mean success in your current account and opportunity for opening new accounts. This doesn’t have to be a big investment; you can start off small and galvanize a local base of loyal consumers and then grow on each success you have with your brand. Getting your brand noticed with unique marketing ideas that resonates with your consumer base and gets them into store will keep your product on shelf and open up new opportunities for growth.
If you have any tips on how to get your new innovation on shelf please share them with us