Natural Foods Merchandiser
How to market your store like a Fortune 500 company

How to market your store like a Fortune 500 company

Business coach Gerry O'Brion is coming to Natural Products Expo East to help small businesses grow using strategies from billion-dollar brands. Here's a sneak peek into the session.

Gerry O’Brion is an acclaimed business coach, author and speaker. His company, What Big Brands Know, helps small businesses grow using the same strategies as billion-dollar brands. 

Hear O’Brion speak at Natural Products Expo East, Wednesday, Sept. 19, in room 322/323 of the Baltimore Convention Center.

Take this short survey to customize the session to what you want to know about.


Natural Foods Merchandiser: Many consultants offer advice for brand acceleration. How is your approach unique?

Gerry O’Brion: The concepts I teach come from years as an executive growing billion-dollar brands at companies such as Procter & Gamble, Coors, Quiznos and Red Robin. I’m known for my ability to simplify complex ideas into actionable strategies, even when working with large brands. Many businesses get so focused on how to service their customers that they don’t spend much time planning for their future success. In reality, there are probably two or three strategies that could dramatically change any company’s growth trajectory. I help business leaders uncover what will make the difference for them.

NFM: What’s one example of a particularly powerful tool?

GO: Companies must establish their “reason to believe.” This concept is used frequently in consumer products marketing, but it’s not really discussed in other businesses. The idea is simple: What benefit do customers get by choosing you over the competition? Why should they believe that benefit to be true? That’s your reason to believe. Think of Papa John’s slogan “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza.” Better pizza is the benefit. Better ingredients are why customers should believe it. When Papa John’s was a young company, Pizza Hut sued it over the slogan. Papa John’s ultimately prevailed, simply because the company uses filtered water and freshly sliced tomatoes, while Pizza Hut does not. Papa John’s is now a multibillion-dollar restaurant company.

NFM: How will you tailor your message to independent natural products retailers?

GO: One of the big concepts I teach is the power of getting insights from your customers. Deep customer understanding is one of the big ways some billion-dollar brands keep growing while others falter. When I was at P&G, we researched everything. So as I prep for this event, I’ll want to learn all the pain points and frustrations of independent naturals retailers. In fact, I’d love to do a short survey to get that feedback. See box at right for participation details.

Retailer Workshop

Gerry O’Brion kicks off the Natural Products Expo East Retailer Workshop series from 3:30 to 4:30 Wednesday, Sept. 19. Following his keynote are three tracks: store-level, products and business. Speakers include Elnian Gilbert of Zing Train, Jay Jacobowitz of Retail Insights, Rafael Mael of Brand Launcher, natural foods retailers, New Hope Natural Media editors and others. The sessions run from 4:30 to 8:45 p.m. including a dinner, and coffee and sweets breaks. The workshop costs $95, or $75 for Natural Products Association East members. For more information, visit

Store-level track

4:30 to 5:30 p.m.:
Building a Culture of Great Service

6:30 to 7:30 p.m.:
Employee Education and Training: 3 Models That Work

7:45 to 8:45 p.m.:
Top Ten Retail Problems and What To Do About Them

Business track

4:30 to 5:30 p.m.:
The New Rules of Relationship Marketing

6:30 to 7:30 p.m.:
Marketing to Moms—Why Moms Rule

7:45 to 8:45 p.m.:
Business Forum: Being “Liked” is Not Enough: Social Media Strategies for Success

Products track

4:30 to 5:30 p.m.:
Food Trends: Category Review
and Analysis

6:30 to 7:30 p.m.:
Supplements Trends: Category Review and Analysis

7:45 to 8:45 p.m.:
Personal Care Trends: Category Review and Analysis 



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