How to get your product in grocery stores

Who hasn’t dreamed of seeing their product on the shelves in their favourite grocery store next to the brands you ate or drank as a child?  Have you seen your competitors in the store or shouting out on social media about their listings?

But how did they do it?  How DO you get your product in grocery stores?

Well you have got to BELIEVE it is going happen and then take practical steps to MAKE it happen

So, what are the 7 steps to getting a retailer listing?

  • Get your product retailer ready – every grocery chain have their own set of rules about what they need from a product in terms of accreditations, ingredients and packaging.  Check out their websites to make sure that you don’t waste your time trying to get a listing and discover your products don’t comply.
  • Know your numbers – getting a retailer listing will involve a whole different set of profitability than selling online or direct to consumer.  They will be looking for significant profit margins – they vary depending on the category but can be anything from 25-70% and that is before you pay to deliver to their depots, maintain their margins whilst you promote the products and invest in their various “marketing’ opportunities such as retailer magazines, sampling etc.
  • Build your tribe – there is a degree of chicken and egg with marketing.  Many of my clients don’t want to build their marketing before they have somewhere to sell their products.  But if you don’t have a tribe clamouring to buy your brand, then why would the retailer waste their valuable shelf space taking a perfectly decent selling product of the shelf to put yours on?
  • Implement a trade marketing plan – the best way of getting the buyer’s attention is not an email or phone call but by their seeing it organically.  Research has shown that before someone takes a buying action (ie replying to a cold email), they need to have seen the product 7 times.  I wrote my mini course – secret sauce of gaining a retailer listing with this in mind – 7 ways to raise your brand profile so that the buyer knows exactly who you are before you get in touch with them
  • Assess your competition – the retailer doesn’t have elastic shelves so needs to replace someone with your product.  So, you need to create a compelling argument for why your brand offers something different…that elusive USP.  That could be:
  • bringing innovation to the market place – eg my client Bearpaw has a non dairy creamer that makes instant coffee taste amazing and luxurious – totally different and bang on trend
  • bringing a massive marketing tribe – Fitbakes have over 50k followers on Instagram which they successfully used to raise £500k investment cash plus to get a 1000 store Tesco listing – 50k people coming to the store to buy your products is a compelling argument.  It does take time to build the following but start today and add a few everyday and you soon have a decent tribe.
  • getting people to trade up and grow the category – Pip and Nut created nut butter brand that offered a USP but was at a premium price – people were prepared to pay that price and so overall the category was growing
  • Tailor your approach – all retailers want to offer a point of difference over their competitors and will have different customer profiles, different marketing positioning and even geographical differences.  One size does not fit all so make sure you are choosing the retailer who will meet your brand’s needs
  • Perseverance – the one thing I think that has delivered my clients success has been perseverance.  Seriously if at first you don’t succeed try, try again.  K’s wors sausages first met Costco in 2018 at a pitching event – they loved the products but then went cold.  We persevered sending them little brand updates, built our tribe, got another retailer listing elsewhere and finally in Jan 2021 sent them the email that did it!  It was about a new product that we were launching – suddenly right time, right buyer, right product – bingo – we are now listed and it is selling out!  So if you don’t get a response the first time, keep trying – buyers change so you might have one that hates your product idea but then new buyer comes along who wants to make a different approach and you are in.  Or they may have just done a product review and no plans to make a change for a year – sadly they don’t do the decent thing and take 30s to write and tell you!  So, you have to keep shooting in the dark until one day you hit the target!

I have worked with hundreds of challenger brands now and we have got listings in most of the grocery chains.  The secret has been all of the above plus a little fairy dust and as I said at the beginning, believing you can do it!! And YOU can!

Leave a Reply 0 comments