Win a Spot on the Retail Food Shelf? Only Half the Battle….

Get On – and Stay On – the Retail Food Shelf.

From our (the NewPoint) marketing point of view, food companies we talk to all want the same thing: get their retail food product on the grocery shelf. Another thing most food entrepreneurs have in common that came from food buyer retailers:

Food companies all seem to think that their only job is to get on the retail shelf.”

If these same food entrepreneurs had talked to retail buyers, as I did for my book, Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain, they would have known several things including these two big ones:

  • Food companies need more than an excellent food product to get on the shelf. In 2016, new food product introductions were the highest since 2007, and the buyer you are meeting with sat through many of those pitches. What information do you have in your selling toolbox to convince that buyer that your product better and different? How can you show the buyer it is going to sell?
  • Getting your food product on the shelf is only the start. If your product clears that coveted first hurdle and gets on the shelf, you have not won the lottery. At that point, you just got a new job: help move that product from the shelf to the cart, and through the checkout. The buyers we talked to considered this job to be a 50:50 proposition. Although they expect the supplier to support consumer awareness and drive purchase intent, they understand they have to help support your product sales by inviting the supplier to participate in in-store promotions, circulars, and ads.

NewPoint held two conferences with six retail food buyers and distributors on the lunch panel our 2017 & 2018 Emerging Brands Forums.

Each of the 85+ retail food entrepreneurs that attended submitted questions for the panel. Here is a question we asked at :

How can we, the food entrepreneur here, how can we help to sell the products better?

Several buyers mentioned demos, social media, and other marketing support but Buyer #5 provided this partner-oriented observation.

Buyer #5: “Share your marketing plan – promotions, schedules, demos – do a whole 12 months. Think about throughout the calendar year if you have an item that is hot during certain times of the year. Get that plan in front of your retail partners or distributors and now, for next year, and there’s nothing better for us than to know we’ve got you plugged in and we know exactly what you’re doing for that next 12 months to help move your product.”

Here is the answer to the same question we asked in research for the book.

E.C., Senior Retail Food Buyer, 35 years’ experience: This is where I put 50-50. I don’t know that it’s an exact 50-50 split, I thought this was a good question. … getting it listed is only the start of the process. So, then, once you have it listed, it’s in the warehouse, now what are you going to do to sell it?”

So let’s do what we can to win a spot on the retail food shelf, but let’s also have a plan to keep it listed buy helping with sell-through. According to food buyers, they consider getting on the shelf to be only half the battle. More akin to getting hired than winning a race. Your job is just beginning. Buyers: share your marketing plan – promotions, schedules, demos – do a whole 12 months to help sell your product.

Contact NewPoint today to get on the shelf, and then stay on the shelf.