How to Get Your Brand on the Shelf – What Retailers REALLY Need and Want

Anaheim, CA — Expo West never fails to disappoint. As a mentor and member of the Pitch-Slam Selection Committee, it’s always exciting to see all the innovation and disruption in our industry. My team made it into the final four. A common theme and hot topic throughout discussions and presentations this year was how do brands get their products on retailer’s shelves.

This important topic was also addressed in a panel during The Disrupted Retail Summit. Panel members included Jim Nielsen, president & COO, Sprouts; Ben Friedland, VP of marketing, Lucky’s Market; Danielle Vogel, founder, Glen’s Garden Market; and Bob Burke, Natural Products Consulting. Discussion also included how brands should help retailers by providing actionable insights to their retail partners.

This common theme focuses on how retailers and brands need to partner to help drive sales, satisfy shoppers, and compete more effectively against mainstream brands and retailers.

Savvy retailers want more from brands than fees.

They want brands willing and able to help them drive sales and compete more effectively. They want brands to provide actionable insights. They want happy loyal shoppers spending more in their stores, and they want a reasonable profit. They want brands to respect them and brands that are focused on helping them achieve their objectives by leveraging the strength of their brand.

There is a tried-and-true way of working with retailers that has been around since the dark ages. Retail is a pay-to-play game that favors the brands with the deepest pockets. This needs to change.

The greatest strength any brand has is its loyal customers.

This goes well beyond packaging or branding. Loyal shoppers will choose a brand over the competition even when other products are discounted. Savvy retailers do not just look at brands as a box taking up space on their shelves. They focus on the loyal evangelistic community that brands bring into their stores. Brands need to leverage this with retailers.

The panelists talked about this and how brands really need to step up and take a leadership role in their categories.

Brands need to be experts in their products, their competition, and all the retailers who sell their category.

They need to be the eyes-and-ears for their retail partners. Retailers cannot possibly be experts in every category and on every item they sell. They need brands to educate them on all aspects of the category and the shopper. This requires that brands have a unified selling story across every touchpoint. A brand’s entire sales team needs to be on the same page with everyone sharing the enthusiasm, passion and message as though it came directly from the founder’s lips.

Most brands show up with their deal sheets, canned topline reports and their checkbook. The more effective way of supporting retailers requires a collaborative partnership between the retailer and the brand. Brands need to include fact-based selling in their presentations – True Category Management. They need to be able to share the why behind how shoppers make choices and when a shopper chooses an item, what other items they purchase, etc.

Retailer strategies should incorporate actionable insights provided by the brands. Efforts should always be laser-focused on the shopper. This includes the way products are merchandised, product assortments, pricing, promotion, and most importantly, people.

Daniel Lohman, CPSA is the Organic and CPG Industry Strategic Advisor, certified at the highest level of category management proficiency: Certified Professional Strategic Advisor. He is the creator of the free course Turnkey Sales Story Strategies and the BRAND SECRETS AND STRATEGIES podcast, an audio natural products accelerator. 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
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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: