Retail Food Buyer Pitch Meeting #5: Differentiate Your Brand

The Retail Perspective: The Retail Food Buyer Pitch Meeting

Recap: The more we know about what food buyers are looking for in a vendor partner, the better we are at helping our clients. We conducted over 25 in-depth retail food buyer interviews and surveyed several thousand more for my book: 
Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain. The buyers were from all size stores, big chains to small independents.

Picking up from:

How can your brand be different in the eyes of the consumer?

Going into a retail food buyer pitch meeting, the buyer is going to need one heck of a great selling story if you have what they call a “me too” product – in other words, non-differentiated from 90% of the other products in the buyer’s POG.

However, even if your product is not that different from the others, the food buyers are offering ideas with your quotes on how that can work. Sell your product in a separate space in the store, or change up the pack size (single serving sizes are very hot).

Alternatively, as trends are showing: emphasize on your packaging and social media—any charitable causes you support—millennials love a good cause and cause marketing will reach $1.2 trillion this year.

Ingredients (non-GMO or Gluten-Free/Paleo – fresh sourced)? Can you differentiate there? Now is the time to talk about your ingredients but in the context of what the buyer already has in the POG

How about the highly effective and attainable differentiator for an emerging brand: You are the local/regional brand. One of the hottest cards you can put in your deck YOU ARE THE local, regional brand in the market.

Alternatively, the “special sauce” to many brands out there is to build the brand story — why you are better/different than the competition and why the consumer cares about you.

Here’s the story about one of our clients: a small meat brand. Besides an excellent smoked flavoring, there is nothing special about this product line. The brand’s package matched all other standard branded meat packaging, and it was too expensive for the manufacturer to change.

A lot of small emerging brands fall directly into the same area. I got the right product. The product is just not all that different then what’s currently on the shelf.

As a matter of fact, in the first few years we worked with this client, the packaging was the color of the meat. So not only did it not stand out in the planogram, there was no way it was going to compete against the big food – national brands.

With all this going against it, we found ways to develop a brand story, built a marketing plan, and starting building awareness and getting coupons out there to drive trail for consumers to buy the product.

The retail sales grew 100% a year for 3+ years.

The client invested in the “special sauce.” and shared the marketing plan for retailers to get placed in their local region.

That’s the kind of thing a competent marketing firm can help with: create the story, or brand message, then amplify it to the right audience to build a following. Then, make that into a facet of your selling story: the brand, the audience, and the plan to get that brand message to that audience. In other words—package up that marketing plan as a sell sheet and share it in your buyer meetings.

Pro tip: cross-merchandising, pack size differentiation (single-serve?), as well as any causes your brand supports or unique ingredients your product has. Also, marketing and help sell your product may be the differentiator between you and a similar product on the shelf.

The Key Takeaway: Differentiate Your Brand

If you have any questions or would like to talk more about your retail food buyer pitch meeting or to differentiate your brand from the competition, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food marketing topics, please visit our Food for Thought page or check out NewPoint’s Patrick Nycz’s book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.