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Pitching to the retailer – a winning approach

  • 2.5 min read

Thousands of food and beverage products are developed every year. Some make it to the retail shelf, and a small percentage stay on the shelf for over a year. Once the product is created, and put in its appropriate package, the critical step in the is a commitment from retailers to put it on the shelf.

Get the retailer’s attention

Retailers will make room for products that will grow the category sales or profitability in their store. They are not interested in items that will just deliver the same sales or profit as the item they replaced. Innovation is a great thing to bring to the market, and for retailers to list the product, innovation must translate into sales and profit.

It’s about how the product will perform in their store and what you will do to ensure success.

Getting the attention of a category manager can be a challenge. They manage thousands of items in a competitive environment. The most effective strategy to capture some of their valuable time is to have a short story about your product that illustrates how it will grow the category. It’s not about your process or your processing plant. It’s about how the product will perform in their store and what you will do to ensure success.

Have a virtual or in-person meeting

Once you get their attention, the most valuable time you will have is a face to face meeting. Regardless of whether this is in the same room or online, you need to be well prepared and deliver four critical points:

  1. Establish credibility for you, your product and your business – one of the biggest hesitations retailers have with new products or suppliers is your ability to deliver.
  2. How your product will grow the category sales and profit – this is the category manager’s job, and they list products that help them get results.
  3. Detailed sales and costing information – do your research to predict sales in their stores and be prepared with delivered costing for the forecasted volume.
  4. Annual sales and marketing plan – the category manager is not your marketing manager, so you need to prove you have a plan to get the product off the shelf that includes the programs you will participate in with the retailer.

Research your retailer

Category managers are people who make the decisions every week about listings and de-listings. Research them in advance of your meeting to ensure you are prepared for the type of person you will meet. You can learn a lot on LinkedIn by asking other suppliers and talking to people you know who work with them at the retailer. Determine what is important to them and this retailer. They are all unique, and your presentation should be specific for this customer. They are also busy, respect their time and finish within your scheduled meeting.

Before developing your product, spend time in the stores to ensure you have a compelling story to tell your customers. They appreciate suppliers who respect products that deliver innovation to customers and consumers.

Article by: Peter Chapman