Monthly Archives: May 2018

Do you have mega bucks to burn?

I have just received a quote via a client for design work for £23k – granted it will deliver the logo, packaging design, artwork and a basic website but can it be done more cheaply and just as efficiently for a similar price? Another client is paying £1200 a month for PR which is £14k per year – at a net profit of 5% for the company that PR would need to generate incremental £280k to cover its costs.

So how do we avoid burning cash when researching new products, designing our brands or promoting them? Well here’s my top 5 suggestions for saving money:

  1. Size of market assessment for category reviews

Did you know that the British library holds thousands of reports that you can access for free such as Mintel which covers most food markets and has a myriad of data on the size of market, who is the consumer, competitors etc. You do have to physically go to the library which is next to St Pancras station but do the maths – pay £3500 for a report or buy an off peak train ticket and go do your own!

Here’s the link –

  1. Do your own market testing

Last year, I was asked by a major UK produce company to write a category strategy for Tesco Czech and Slovakia. They were not happy with the research they had already commissioned so we did it ourselves. Wrote the brief, set up the camera and recorded our own focus groups! And it worked really well. I have also done at fixture research asking customers what they thought of products – you do need to get permission from the retailer to do this though!

If you have a bit more money to spare, Tessa Stuart ( will do it for you so worth checking her out. Or for testing prices, brand concepts or consumer reactions with over 30000 UK consumers, VYPR is a great method. They have tied up with Grocery accelerator to offer a great deal on research – hop over to the website – or give me a ring and I can explain more how it works

  1. Reasonably price design work

I have a client who used 99 designs ( who did all her design and artwork for £700. It does need a decent design brief to ensure you get what you need – I have a template if you need one so just email me!

I also did my current website for £350 – I have to be honest it did take a lot of time investment from me and a very clear vision on what I wanted but I am really pleased with the result – I found my web designer on

  1. Cost efficient PR

There are a few ways to get to save money on PR. I have signed up to which is free for the basic package. You specify the areas you are interested in and then you get emails when a journalist is looking for info on your specific product or topic. You can also try out Smoothie PR from Charlotte Moore who focuses on reactive PR and sends out a list everyday of food specific journo requests and is very proactive in supporting her Smoothies – She charges £49 a month but worth trying it out and seeing if it works for you

  1. Get help for free or at least subsidised

I often joke if you are looking for help with technical stuff – get a young person! Well at risk of being ageist (ok I was and not all students are young!), many unis are looking for companies to take on their students either for a year’s placement or during the summer. I did it at ichiban and we had Otis for two years and he was amazing, doing all our admin, running social media and helping with exhibitions etc.   Some of the summer interns come for free, are subsidised or you pay the living wage. Its well worth approaching your local uni and seeing what they have to offer.

If they offer food science, they can also help with research, innovation etc

Which leads me to the BONUS point

  1. R&D tax credits

If you have worked on innovation or new product development, you may be entitled to claim all that cash back against tax. Have a look at the government website –

This is a complex area and worth finding someone to make the claim for you – most companies do it on a “no win, no fee” basis so doesn’t cost you money up front

So there you have it, some of my top tips for ensuring you don’t spend mega bucks on launching your product, promoting it or doing your category reviews!!


Top 7 Mistakes Suppliers Make When Selling to UK Retailers

 I was recently asked to give a talk at the Natural and organic product show about what mistakes suppliers make when selling to the retailers – both from my experience as a buyer and also as a seller – what has gone right and what has been a horrible disaster!

So I thought out what are the key mistakes we make?

Mistake 1 – Forgetting the buyer is human!

I am really guilty of this one – I have sent out an email to a buyer and no reply so think, being somewhat paranoid, they are ignoring me. But actually I forget that the buyer is human and busy and has a lot of other things on her plate other than talking to me. Such as:

  • Challenging sales targets (NEVER phone a buyer on a Monday…)
  • Supplier/product problems: quality, logistics, sudden crises, etc.
  • The stores themselves not doing what they are supposed to do!!
  • New launches and promotion challenges
  • Constant pressure from the competition
  • Pressure to find or develop great new products: THAT SELL!


Mistake 2 Right product, wrong retailer

You love your brand – you have made it the best in terms of recipe, packaging, pricing is spot on and you have a load of social media follows but… might be approaching the wrong retailer – Poundland is not right for Prada and Harrods probably don’t sell white sliced bread for 55p!! Think about your brand strategy and do you fit the retailer you are targeting. Some things to consider are

  • Who is your target customer?
  • What is your price positioning?
  • Do you have the capacity or plans to outsource?
  • Do you/your producer have the right accreditation (e.g. Salsa, BRC)?
  • Can you meet retailer margin expectations & still make a profit?
  • Can you deliver to their depot or store configuration?
  • How much can you afford to invest in trade marketing?


Mistake 3 Right product, wrong buyer

I did a talk with Nick Coleman of Snaffling pig recently who make pork scratchings. His business sells bagged snacks so he would go the snacks buyer – right? WRONG!! He does have bags of pork scratchings but they are great for the food to go aisle, yes snacks, but also does kilner jars for gifting and has even launched a joint venture this week on pizza with Papa Johns – so know the right buyer cos if you get the wrong one, your email may just go unanswered

Mistake 4 – Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

It’s a classic adage but it is so true – know your market, your numbers, your product capabilities and …..the buyer. Go through the following checklist

  • Who is the buyer – social media is your friend – build a profile and find some areas of common interest
  • Know the retailer current strategy and have a look at the info they share on websites – see the sites below

  • Business performance and KPIs – what is the buyers KPI – are they driven by cash profit or margin?
  • Visit the stores and speak to managers – they can be very insightful


Mistake 5 – Selling the brand, not the opportunity

Don’t sell the features and benefits of your brand unless you think through how that will help your buyer achieve THEIR targets. Will your brand:

  • Increase consumer footfall (with the right customers?)
  • Revitalise the flagging category and raise average cash profit
  • Create differential from other retail competition


Mistake 6 Being afraid to walk away!

You may get the meeting, do everything right and then the buyer asks you for a cost price that is your cost!! Never be afraid to walk away – you might be too expensive maybe due to low volumes, poor purchasing power etc but they may also be negotiating hard and by walking away you will determine if they are really interested. There is no point being a busy fool just to say you are in Tesco (other retailers are available!).

My book Recipe for success has a chapter on Negotiation which is well worth reading – order kindle version now – click here

Mistake 7 Being afraid to walk back!

Many suppliers once they have been turned down, cross their target retailer off the list. But no doesn’t mean no forever……things change. And here are some reasons to go back:

  • Your timing may have been wrong – time for a range review, time for change
  • Your offer may have improved – costs come down with more volumes or developed a stunning new marketing strategy
  • The buyer has changed – this is a classic one – a new buyer may have a different view on where she wants the category to go so fresh new opportunity


So go forth and get those retail listings and if you are unsure, contact me for an informal chat about how I can help you –

Plus I have written a bonus FREE Ultimate Guide to Category Strategy so click on picture to get yours now

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