Selling in the natural channel means wanting more: greater transparency, labeling that is easier to read and understand, high-quality ingredients, a commitment to fair trade, a high degree of integrity in the way we conduct ourselves, and a commitment to sustainability.
The level of innovation and creativity that companies put into achieving these goals—into their brands, their packaging, the company name, and the products they sell—is impressive. That said, the harsh reality is that consumers won’t buy what they can’t find.
This then begs the question for companies: Why wouldn’t you put the same passion into growing your business as you put into perfecting your products?
Most companies say that they want more sales. While some companies don’t know where to find solutions, others make excuses like, “It’s worked in the past” or “Everyone else is doing it this way.” If you continue doing what you’ve always done the results will always be the same, so it’s important to consider: Are you happy with your sales growth? Do you have full distribution of all your key items? Are you happy with the return you get for each promotion? To anyone who can’t answer these questions with an emphatic yes, then it’s time to re-think your go-to-market strategy.
The competitive landscape requires manufacturers and retailers to be more strategic as they work together. The old way of selling—relationship selling (where retail buying decisions are based on gut and friendships)—is already changing to a more fact-based selling approach with sales pitches that include basic facts about the category. The next logical evolution in the process is to become a category expert and to help educate the retailer on how to best grow sales and be competitive. This requires that manufacturers take a more active role in the retailer selling process. Retailers today need to understand category trends: who shops the category, why they shop the category, and where they shop the category. Armed with this information, retailers can develop assortment, pricing, and promotional strategies that encourage customers to shop their store. Retailers need to know how to properly merchandise their categories.
That said, there are a lot of great resources available to help companies gather this information for retailers. But not all resources are created equal. You would never ask someone earning $30,000 a year how to make $1 million. The same holds true for business. Use resources with proven track records of sustainable sales growth with proven brands. Look for resources that offer a different or unique perspective. You need to look beyond the one-size-fits all strategies and find an expert with a proven track record and with broad experience.
Consumers want convenience, quality products, knowledgeable and helpful store employees. They want categories that are easy to shop, fast checkouts and a good value for the price. Manufacturers who are able to provide these valuable insights will help retailers deliver on those needs—and in doing so, everyone will gain a significant competitive advantage.
Daniel Lohman, CPSA is an 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 naturals 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 are 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. Email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org