February 28, 2022
The show’s vast size, and its importance to Mother’s Market, requires pre-show strategies to ensure the trip achieves Mother’s goals.
For one thing, team members at Mother’s Market first evaluate the number of new and innovative products and brands that will be showcased at an upcoming Expo. An abundance of both helps determine whether Mother’s will attend in the first place.
When they decide it’s a go, and long before they arrive at Expo, key Mother’s Market employees collaborate and communicate with the buying team, making sure that everybody is “ready and focused on taking advantage of the time they have available to connect with current partners and identify future brands and products we want,” says Mother’s Market Chief Merchant, Paul Cassara. “Additionally, there is a lot of work that goes into preemptive category reviews ahead of the show, so meetings are efficient and productive.”
Navigating the show
The show’s key components—the floor itself, meetings with partners, and conference programming—all figure into Mother’s Expo plans.
Walking the show floor involves “a bit of science, and a bit of art,” says Cassara. Some of it hinges on pre-show research and team collaboration that helps Mother’s discover new and emerging brands and trends that are rising in the natural foods zeitgeist. But team members also explore the show “hoping to be surprised, to stumble onto a new brand or product,” says Cassara. “It’s one thing to read about emerging trends. It’s another to see them live and in person.”
Purchasing, too, plays a role during Expo. Cassara says Mother’s leaders devote about half of their time to meeting in person with key accounts, vendors and brands, specifically addressing upcoming promotions and buy-ins. But the other half of the time is less structured. Mother’s employees fan out to buttress old partnership and build new ones.
Conference programming figures into Mother’s Expo strategy. Cassara called the presentations and discussions “valuable.”
“Typically, I am attracted to where the programming intersects with the long- and short-term trajectory of our business,” he says. “Discussion around organic, sustainability and the growth of plant-based are all topics that are evolving and important to our business.”
After Expo, the Mother’s Expo team sorts and shares samples and insights gained during days spent working with vendors, learning about new brands, tasting loads of products and absorbing information about blossoming trends.
What decides whether Mother’s ends up carrying products encountered at Expo?
“We look at the best new and innovative products,” says Cassara. “The most exciting packaging and creative branding. The most impactful human connection and the origin story behind the brand. And finally, what categories are emerging that compel us to rethink the number of SKUs and linears within our business.”
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