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
Daniel Lohman, CPSA is the Organic and CPG Industry Strategic Advisor, certified at the highest level of category management proficiency: Certified Professional Strategic Advisor. Daniel is a trusted and respected member of the natural community who assists companies giving them a sustainable competitive advantage helping them compete head-to-head with the most sophisticated big brands. His company, Category Management Solutions (CMS4CPG), provides innovative ideas, actionable insights and strategic solutions for companies interested in gaining a significant competitive advantage. His unique approach and expertise is designed for the small to medium size brands wanting to grow their business, build shopper base and expand brand shelf space. It includes strategies of the top national brands without all the added expense, saving you valuable time and money. His mission is to level the playing field between natural and conventional (mainstream) by helping natural organic companies make the most of their available resources, win at shelf and connect with consumers. Save valuable time and money while avoiding making costly mistakes, providing solutions that help you get and stay ahead of the competition. Email Dan at dan@cms4cpg.com.

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