In recent years, the rise of e-commerce has provided consumer product startup businesses with an opportunity to expand their reach beyond traditional retail marketing channels. While this has been a game-changer for many industries, it is not always the best option for every brand. For food and beverage companies, in particular, the traditional retail marketing channel remains a tried-and-true method for reaching their target customers. This is because consumers often prefer to see, touch, smell, and taste food and beverage products before making a purchase, especially when it comes to items they plan to consume. Additionally, brick-and-mortar stores offer a level of convenience that online shopping cannot match; customers can easily pick up what they need on their way home from work or while running errands. While e-commerce may be a viable option for some brands, it is important for businesses to carefully consider their target audience and marketing strategies before deciding which channels will be most effective in reaching them.
Whether you attempt to work with retailers directly or use brokers, they probably asked you to help with marketing in exchange for putting your products on the shelves at their stores. That "help" comes in different forms, like discounts, product allowances, slotting fees, or in-store product demo support, but in any way, you are expected to pay for it.
Overall, it is important to consider the costs and benefits of working with retailers to promote your products. While it can be beneficial to have your products on supermarket shelves, it is important to carefully evaluate the costs of marketing support for each method and determine if it is worth the investment. Below is an example of a calculator for such a consideration.
Ultimately, the decision to work with retailers and the choice of marketing support investments will depend on your business goals and financial resources. It is also crucial to consider the target audience of each retailer and whether they align with your brand's values and image. A long-term partnership and more exposure for your products at the right stores can result from forging strong relationships with retailers.
All the methods of marketing "help" described above essentially serve to remove the risk of your product's failure to meet reasonable consumer demand at a store from the retailer, broker, and distributor. The in-store demo support is the only choice that enables you to control the effect of your money being spent. More importantly, in-store demo investment is strategic compared to other options available. When you outsource risk mitigation to a broker, distributor, or retailer via discounts, "free" products, or slotting allowances, you invest in this particular transaction, which is not likely to help you secure the next chain or expand into new territory. You surrender control over performance AND access to valuable data. The data that will help you negotiate with your next retailer with more leverage is market research data collected by brand ambassadors while conducting in-store demo events when you use marketing event management software specific to the planning and coordination of in-store sampling events. For example, a natural and organic food company may have strong values related to sustainable sourcing and environmental practices. They would want to partner with retailers who also prioritize these values, such as health food stores or eco-friendly supermarkets. By building a strong relationship with these retailers, the company could secure long-term partnerships and increase visibility for their products. Additionally, by using in-store demo events, the company can control the effect of the money being spent and collect valuable data to negotiate with future retailers or expand into new regions.
Brokers, distributors, and retailers collect and manage data from different perspectives and for different reasons. Their interests are mostly focused on SKU sales volume to calculate their commissions and manage inventory turnover. While their data could be quite useful, particularly in combination with the demo report data, distributors will charge you for it. Unfortunately, for many brands, their distribution partners frequently limit their ability to enhance the customer experience. However, by utilizing brand ambassadors to collect data during in-store demo events, you can gather valuable information at no extra cost. This data can include consumer feedback on product quality and packaging, competitor analysis, and insights into consumer behavior. Armed with this information, you can negotiate with retailers from a position of strength, highlighting the unique selling points of your products and demonstrating the value that you bring to their business. Furthermore, by using marketing event management software to plan and coordinate your in-store demo events, you can streamline the process and ensure that you are maximizing the return on your investment.