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.