It’s your dream to see your food or beverage product on grocery store shelves, nestled between the legacy mega companies, the store brands and the specialty makers. But how do you get there? Follow our step by step guide.
Checklist: What You Need to Do Before Pitching Your Product to Retailers
Do Your Homework
Determine your target market. Your target market is a specific group of consumers to which your company aims to sell its products. Taking the time to determine who your audience is will not only help you to focus your marketing message on that consumer, but it also will help you determine which stores to focus on when looking for retail partners.
Determine How to Identify Your Food Business Target Audience
Develop a Competitive Analysis. Identify your competitors and evaluate their products and how they conduct business. This analysis will help you to assess their strengths and weaknesses as well as potential threats to and opportunities for your business. If there are no direct competitors (companies that sell the same product that you do), look at indirect competitors (which are those companies that supply different types of products that satisfy the same need). For example, consumers may choose to purchase almond milk instead of coconut milk.
Learn How to Create a Competitive Analysis for Your Food Brand
Create a target list of retailers. Develop a list that includes the store name, locations, number of locations, mission statement (if they have one), and target audience. Ideally, your target customer shops at the stores where you would like to sell your products. These stores should align with your brand’s core values, quality standards, and customer service experience.
Research the buyer’s contact information. Use Linkedin to research and find the correct buyer. From there, you can usually guess the correct email pretty easily, i.e. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store and ask to be transferred to the that buyer.
Visit the retailers on your prospect list. Review the products in your category and create an analysis that will help you to determine how your product could fit within their selection. The analysis should include:
Number of products in your category
Location of competitive products in the store (refrigerated case, snack aisle, etc.)
Preparing Your Sales Pitch
Once you have determined your target market, competitors and the retailers where your product will fit best, it’s time to create your sales pitch. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What information would you want to know to help you make purchase decisions? When preparing your pitch, answer the following questions:
Brand Support: How will you support your brand (i.e., product demonstrations, serving suggestions)? How will you drive consumers in store (i.e., promotion through social media, collaborations with influencers)?
Target Audience: Does the target audience for your product align with the target audience and current customers of the store?
Competitive Landscape: Who is your competition? What differentiates your product from your competitors’ products?
Market Trends: What are current market trends that support why a retailer should carry your product?
Your Product’s Features & Benefits: What are your product’s attributes? How does consuming your product benefit the consumer? Does your product solve a problem or address a specific need?
Product Placement: Where is the best place for your product (refrigerated case, snack aisle, etc.)?
Develop a Sell Sheet
Your sell sheet is a leave behind that should contain everything that a prospective buyer should know about your product. You should make it easy for them to make a decision by anticipating their questions and providing answers before they have a chance to ask them. Be sure to include:
Your logo and tagline (if you have one)
Brief educational information about your product, if necessary
Product images with brief descriptions and ingredients
UPC numbers or codes (if you have them)
Ordering and delivery details with minimums, case size, pricing, Suggested Retail Price and how the product will be delivered), and
Your contact information, website, social media
The sheet should not exceed two pages. Also, branding is important so consider working with a graphic designer that can create a beautiful sell sheet that is consistent with your website, business cards and other promotional materials.
Set Up a Meeting
There are a few ways to go about setting up a meeting with retail buyers. You can call or email to get an appointment but you may be better off just visiting the store. Buyers are busy so you may have to try all three methods in order to set up the meeting. Remember that you want something from them, so you need to be flexible.
Follow Up and Follow Up Again
After the meeting, send an email thanking the buyer for their time and ask if you can provide any additional information. If you do not hear back from them, follow up and then follow up again. Remember to be persistent but respectful. As a rule of thumb, when emailing to follow up, respond to the same email chain. This keeps all of the information about your brand and products in one correspondence. That way the buyer does not have to search their email box for your information.