Most companies tend to focus its message on what's important to them. Unfortunately, few take the time to build the message around their customers' needs. The same holds true for retailers.
A lot of the natural products on retailer shelves today are distributed because the buyer liked the sales person. This is called “relationship selling.” In this instance, little thought or science is put behind the purchasing decision. Decisions are based primarily on emotion and gut as opposed to facts.
Fact-based selling relies on the relationship but is supported by solid facts that support the benefit to the consumer as well as the retailer. This can include the brand's commitment and plan to support the retailer, the market, the category, consumer insights, the potential sales for the item, schematic recommendations and more.
Decisions based solely on item performance sometimes undervalue consumer buying habits along with their needs and wants. It can actually reduce category sales.
Your sales story on (natural) steroids
In today's highly competitive environment, retailers want to know a lot more than the different colors or flavors of a product. They also want to know who buys the product, how it will help them grow category sales and drive traffic into their store, and how the new item will impact the bottom line.
To differentiate your brand from the other brands on the shelf, consider adding facts to your sales story. Do this by incorporating a mini-category review into each selling opportunity, including new item presentations.
Schedule annual category reviews that include:
- A top line overview of a category's performance in the account and the market
- A more in-depth analysis highlighting important category trends
- A demographic profile of the category buyer compared with the demographic profile of those shopping the retailer
- A schematic review
- Consumer insights to help educate the retailer on your brand, the category and their consumer
Recommendations to grow the 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.
Manufacturers interested in taking a leadership role in the category should also include:
- An in-depth analysis of category, brand and item performance
- An in-depth schematic review complete with space for sales analysis
- A pricing analysis comparing the category at the retailer to the market
- A promotion analysis highlighting event successes and opportunities to develop more impactful events
- A promotion schedule and commitment to support the brand and grow sales
- In-depth consumer insights and an analysis of consumer buying habits; for example, how they shop the category and retailer
- Recommendations to differentiate your brand and the retailer in the market
Following these simple steps will help you grow sustainable sales with a greater commitment by the retailer to support your brand. It will also help you compete more effectively against any brand in any channel.
What category management tips do you use? Share your wisdom in the comments.
Daniel Lohman is the owner of Category Management Solutions (CMS) which provides innovative strategic solutions for natural and organic CPG companies interested in gaining a significant competitive advantage.