Branding and Marketing

What is the Deal With In-Store Marketing?

Should I participate in the marketing programs offered by retailers?

Must I agree to retailer marketing BEFORE they will consider our products? 

What about the marketing we are doing outside of any retailer? Does that matter to retailers?

All good questions and common ones, too. Often times, it seems the first hoop retailers will make you jump through is to sign up for their marketing programs. Even without having been awarded business first!

In the past 2 months, I have prepared retailer marketing proposals (also known as shopper marketing) as the price of entry, or danced around conversations about this with ShopRite, Kings Market, Balducci's, Gelson's, Sam's Club and probably others that I can't think of. The irony is that the big guys, Walmart and Target, wait until after they award business before hitting up vendors for retailer marketing!  

Here are some answers to help you prepare for these conversations. 

What Marketing Do I Need to Do to Impress Retailers?

The momentum of your brand is important, especially for large retailers. Brand awareness does not build overnight, not even with an aggressive marketing budget. Awareness takes time to build. And without it, your product is less likely to sell at shelf. In most cases, a brand less than 2 years old lacks enough brand awareness to support sales at shelf. Therefore, building brand awareness should begin before your product is available in market.

Get comfy. This is a long post. Really, it should be called Marketing 101. 

Where to begin: Start marketing before you launch

Brand awareness building should begin as soon as you lock down your brand name and website domain name. Start building your email list. A free and quick way to set up a landing page to collect emails is Building your social media following can also begin early - even without a product ready to sell. Instagram is a great way to showcase your brand personality and begin building brand awareness. These are great ways to start nurturing relationships with your target consumers without spending much money or exposing your IP. Over time these assets will build a following for you. From there, you will have a solid foundation for which to execute a formal marketing strategy.

Why This Brand Is On Fire

FreshKids ~ Healthy Snacks for Healthy Kids: Follow this brand in Instagram

This brand "gets" it. It understands what it takes to emotionally connect with and excite its target consumer, Millennial Moms. 

It understands that Millennials value healthy lifestyles and seek natural, gluten-free foods for their families. It also understands the Millennials influence food trends among older generations. (Food trends)

It understands that in order to make sure kids are eating healthy, it has to also take action outside of homes - and work directly with schools. (Social Responsibility trends)

It understands that product formulation and sourcing transparency are critical measures of authenticity. (Consumer trends)

And it understands the role branding and packaging play in bringing these values to life. (Packaging trends)

Retailers are tripping over themselves to work with this brand. Why? Because it aligns with so many macro-trends and retailers' growth strategies - specifically, it targets the Millennial consumer. 

The Millennial consumer is the most coveted consumer segment in retail in 2015. They have 21% of direct consumer discretionary purchasing power ($1.3 trillion annually). About 40 million Millennials are already parents. And 9,000 Millennial moms give birth every day.* 

While Millennials do their pre-shopping research online, 82% of them prefer shopping in brick & mortar. One Millennial said “You want to touch it; you want to smell it; you want to pick it up.”**

What does this all mean for brands? If your brand positioning and product line are not relevant to this increasingly important consumer, your brand will not be gaining new retail distribution. You will not gain the attention of retail buyers. This is the current mindset of retail. This is now the hurdle for which your brand needs to overcome. 

Take the time to review your brand strategy. Determine if an update or "refreshening" is needed to gain relevance to this segment of increasing importance to all retailers. Look at your innovation pipeline. Are your upcoming product launches moving you towards the direction of Millennials? If not, you may want to think long and hard about revising your 3 to 5 year growth strategy. 


Cool infograph about Millennials**


*Who Will Win The Battle For the Millennial Grocery Shopper?, Jeff Fromm, Business Journalsk April 14, 2014

**Who Are The Millennial Shoppers? And What Do They Really Want?, Accenture Outlook Industry Report, 2013.

Video Tips: How to Create a Brand that Retailers Desire

Wondering where to start when it comes to building a brand for your small products business? Retail Path Founder and Buyerly’s co-founder and resident Retail Buying expert, Vanessa, presents this course to cover the basics of products branding and marketing.