Strategies For Natural Products Retailers To Stay Competitive

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Natural store customer service
Taking time to answer customer questions is a hallmark of the independent retailer.

Natural products can now be found on retailer’s shelves across all channels. In fact, mainstream natural product sales have outpaced natural products sales by natural retailers.

This also means more opportunities for top-selling natural brands to be represented in a greater number of stores across multiple retail channels. While this is an incredible opportunity for natural brands, the growth in mainstream could potentially stifle natural retailer growth. Natural retailers are the lifeblood of the natural channel. It’s where all the new innovation first appears. This could have a dramatic impact on small local and regional health-focused brands that rely on natural retailers to get their start.

Mainstream retailers cherry-pick the top-selling national brands in addition to providing a wide variety of natural organic private label items. Their reach and their ability to connect with consumers are far greater than any other retailer. Some mainstream stores attract several hundred or even thousands of shoppers to their stores every day.

The challenge mainstream retailers face is choosing the right natural product assortment to meet the needs of their customers. Retailers, all retailers, need and want natural brands to help them grow category sales and increase the number of shoppers in their stores. Natural brands need to work collaboratively with retailers, especially natural retailers.

Mainstream retailers work to leverage top natural brands to win-over mainstream consumers and build a loyal following. Natural retailers should differentiate themselves by providing a wide variety of natural products.

Top strategies to grow sustainable sales:

Top natural organic brands

Leading natural organic brands need to be a key part of your overall strategy. Top natural organic brands bring traffic into stores. They support your marketing programs, create category excitement, and increase shopper loyalty.  They can also help differentiate you from your competition. Health-conscious shoppers are always looking for quality natural organic products that meet their needs and the needs of their families. Natural organic brands offer the promise of innovation, consistent quality, and value.

Local natural organic brands

Local brands connect the retailer with their community. More importantly, shoppers like causes, especially those that benefit their neighbors. Local products should be an intricate part of every retailer’s strategy.

Merchandising

Natural products should be merchandised next to their mainstream counterparts. New innovative natural products should be featured to highlight the retailer’s commitment to meeting the needs of their shoppers. This is where natural retailers have an advantage; mainstream retailers are not agile enough to make changes to their category assortment as easily as natural retailers. This is how you grow sustainable category sales and compete more effectively.

Assortment/Selection

It is imperative that retailers offer top-selling items in every category in addition to unique items that differentiate you from your competitors. Consumers unable to find their favorite natural organic brands in your store will shop elsewhere. Brands need to help retailers manage their assortment to attract shoppers giving them a lot of reasons to shop your store often. This is how you convert customers into happy shoppers.

Pricing

No one ever wins when they play the pricing game. It is not possible to outspend large national mainstream retailers. While it’s important to have competitive pricing on top items, unique natural products should be priced fairly and used to grow category sales and shopper loyalty. Shoppers will gladly spend more for products that meet their needs! This includes the retailer’s friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Promotions

Promotions must be carefully coordinated to reach the maximum number of shoppers. They could include natural and local products not available at competitive retailers. Brands need to work closely to manage inventory levels and eliminate out-of-stocks, especially during promotions.

Exceptional customer service

Natural retailers are known for their phenomenal customer support. This is what the natural channel does better than mainstream. Leverage the strengths of your sales team to drive shopper loyalty and support the benefits of our healthy way of life.

Always focus on your strengths and never get lured into competing with mainstream retailers on their terms. Compete with them on your terms focusing on the strategies above. Natural retailers should adopt these strategies to remain competitive in any channel and in any economy.

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Daniel Lohman, CPSA
Dan Lohman is a CPG and Natural and Organic Industry Strategic Advisor. His company Brand Secrets and Strategies provides innovative ideas, actionable insights and strategic solutions to the challenges that brands and retailers face. Dan assists retailers and brands in expanding their distribution, growing sales and getting their products on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. His extensive knowledge reaches beyond traditional category management and has earned him recognition throughout the industry as an influencer, expert, speaker, trainer and thought leader. Dan is passionate about empowering brands and raising the bar. His Brand Secrets and Strategies podcast is a popular natural and organic products accelerator for food startups, healthy brands and retailers. In addition to sharing his 25 years of experience, Dan talks with well-known thought leaders, CEOs and founders of successful industry companies who candidly share insider secrets. As a top contributor to the leading trade publications, he has published over 300 articles. A trusted and respected member of the natural and organic community, Dan’s weekly newsletter, podcast, free resources and online mini courses have become an invaluable resource for brands and retailers seeking to grow sales and gain a sustainable competitive advantage. To learn more please visit: www.BrandSecretsAndStrategies.com

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