As competition increases so does the expectation of natural and mainstream retailers and consumers. This is even more true now as natural retailers begin to adopt True Category Management.  The key to success begins with a strategy that is later focused on the consumer.

The shopper – the foundation of every successful selling strategy 

Most brands tend to focus on what’s important to them, their product’s value from their perspective. They talk at shoppers; “buy this because it’s the best and others love it”. Unfortunately, few take the time to actually listen to their customers and build their messaging around their shopper’s needs – I mean really listen. The same holds true for retailers. Natural organic products are unique in that they are typically closer to their end consumers than large brands.  This gives them a significant competitive advantage – if they use it!

A lot of the natural products on retailer shelves today are in distribution because the buyer liked the sales person, the brand’s slogan, it’s formulation, etc. This is called “relationship selling.” In most cases, brands do little if anything to educate the retailer on category trends or shopper preferences.  Decisions are based primarily on emotion and gut as opposed to facts. There is nothing wrong with this but there is a better way.

Fact-based selling (True Category Management) also relies on the relationship but is supported by solid facts designed to help the retailer drive category sales with your brand. Fact-based selling includes additional information beyond topline reports that retailers don’t have access to on their own, like shopper behavior and market trends.  This can include the brand’s promotional strategy, their commitment to support the retailer with category management, consumer/shopper insights, schematic recommendations, etc.  All of these key elements help both the brand and the retailer succeed.

Decisions based solely on item performance usually undervalue the importance of the consumer along with their wants and needs. It can actually reduce category sales and make it harder for the retailer to compete effectively.

In today’s highly competitive environment, savvy retailers want to know a lot more than the different colors or flavors an item is available in. They also want to know who buys the product, why they buy the product, how they use the product, how it will help them grow sustainable category sales and drive traffic into their store, and how the new item will impact their bottom line.

To differentiate your brand from the other brands, consider using every retailer meeting as an opportunity to educate them and demonstrate your commitment to being a category leader. This can be accomplished by including a mini category review into each and every selling opportunity, including new item presentations.

Here are some additional recommendations:

Brands interested in taking a leadership role in the category should include: 

  • an in-depth analysis of category, brand, and item performance
  • an in-depth schematic review complete with space to sales analysis, etc.
  • pricing analysis comparing the category at the retailer to their market
  • promotion analysis highlighting opportunities to develop more impactful events
  • promotion schedule to support the brand and grow sales
  • in-depth consumer insights and analysis of consumer buying habits, for example, how they shop the category and retailer
  • recommendations to differentiate your brand at the retailer in the market

Schedule regular annual category reviews that include: 

  • topline overview of a category’s performance in the account and in the market
  • in-depth analysis highlighting important trends in the category
  • a demographic profile of the category buyer compared to the profile of those shopping the retailer
  • schematic review
  • consumer insights to educate the retailer on your brand, the category, and the consumer
  • recommendations to grow category and retailer sales.

Being impartial and focusing on what’s best for the retailer will give you additional clout the retailer might reward you for later.

Follow these simple steps to grow sustainable sales. They will also help you compete more effectively against any competitive brand in any channel. This is called True Category Management.

The Essential New Item Checklist – The Recipe For Success

Empowering Brands | Raising The Bar

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