You worked hard to develop your product and get it into the marketplace, and now gaining distribution at key retailers is the blueprint to your brand’s success. So how do you identify the best stores to carry your product?
Define core consumers
First you need to identify who your core consumers are -- not just your target customers, but those who are most likely to buy your product. What is their demographic makeup? Do they come from large families? Do they have a high income? Are they college-educated? What is their ethnicity? These are all important questions that will help you develop a solid marketing strategy that communicates the value as well as the benefits of your brand.
Identify key retailers
Next you need to identify markets/retailers with a similar demographic makeup. There are many tools available to help in this endeavor; Spectra is perhaps the most robust of them. It can help you pinpoint the best retailers/stores that match your target demographic footprint.
After you have successfully identified your retailers, you want to gain distribution in each retailer/store within your target geographic area. Seek to have your product represented at each of the stores that you identify as key opportunities. This is critical to help you promote more efficiently and effectively and to reach the largest audience possible.
Knowing your competition and their promotional strategy will help you develop a more robust promotional strategy of your own in exchange for the premium shelf location and distribution.
Get the best shelf placement
Once your product is in distribution, you need to determine where it should be merchandised on the store shelf. When possible, try to have your product billboarded. That is, request that your products be merchandised together on the shelf to form a billboard. This will create the greatest impact for your brand image and attract new customers. Ask to have your product shelved to the right of the retailer’s private-label. This is a spot usually reserved for the number one brand in the category.
Make sure that your product has enough holding power on the shelf so that it doesn't need to be restocked more often than once a week. This might require additional facings of the popular SKU’s. Most retailers want a minimum case pack of a case and a half holding power on the shelf.
Request that your product be shelved at eye level. Some of the strategies to gain preferred merchandising status can be achieved by a solid commitment to the retailer to support their initiatives and drive traffic into their store. This can be accomplished by strategies that align your brand with the retailer, like providing coupons redeemable at the retailer.
Gaining the right distribution in the right stores is perhaps the most critical component of a successful brand strategy.