Being able to differentiate a product or brand within the natural products space is more important than ever. Especially for companies attending Natural Products Expo East, which will be held Sept. 22-25 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
“The natural products industry is booming,” said Mike Fata, the co-founder of Manitoba Harvest, who has done multiple nine-figure exits as an entrepreneur in the natural food space and now mentors other CPG brands. “There's a lot of entrepreneurs trying to make their mark so you have to stand out.”
Crafting a compelling message on a virtual platform such as Swapcard, Hopin, Hublio and Whova is key to capturing a buyer’s attention.
“Share specific highlights and features that will appeal to retailers’ specific needs,” said Cassandra Rosen, president of CPG marketing agency FK Interactive. “Don’t try to be everything to everyone, but aim for specific targets, and you’ll be more likely to achieve your virtual expo goals.”
Although most buyers have access to trend and category data, present your own point of view to explain where opportunities exist, said Greg Fleishman, co-founder and principal of Purely Righteous Brands LLC, a consultancy; co-founder of Foodstirs; and a member of several boards of directors, including Once Upon A Farm and Lily's Sweets.
Be succinct. Long-winded, unfocused presentations delivered in more than three pages result in retail buyers tuning out and losing the sale, said Fleishman, a serial entrepreneur and investor in natural and organic CPG brands.
Here are other tips from Fata, Fleishman and Rosen on how to construct a compelling message on a virtual platform.
Be engaging and share relevant details
A virtual bio on Swapcard (or a similar SaaS platform) is going to act as the brand’s presence at an event.
“That’s why it’s important to have it completely filled out,” Rosen said. Share background details about the brand and founder. Include contact details with social media handles and LinkedIn information.
“In the same way that you’d want to have a pitch ready for retailers stopping by an in-person booth, brands need to create reasons for retailers to engage with their profiles online,” Rosen said. “A 60-second product demo or brand intro video can be helpful to get this message across quickly.”
Use it as an elevator pitch.
“Keep it direct, engaging and get to the point,” Rosen said. “Include relevant product keywords that retailers might be searching for, as these are how the software will match you to anyone that might be searching for products within your category.”
Make the information short and sweet
Create a simple outline of the brand vision that shows why the product is needed by consumers and how you have “created magic that no other brand can deliver on,” Fleishman said. Also share how the brand will support retailers with trade promotions, marketing and a reliable supply chain.
“It works because buyers have five minutes to evaluate whether or not a brand is the right fit for their store,” Fleishman said. “Compelling brevity is the key to success in getting buyer engagement.”
Don’t forget to share how good the food tastes and the benefits the product offers, Fata said.
“Being high in protein, low in sugar, keto, organic fair trade or other benefits are all secondary to how great the product tastes,” Fata said.
Communicate the uniqueness of the product
Being a better-for-you product is now the norm in the natural products industry, Fata said.
Companies need to convey other important highlights besides just being healthier. Messaging needs to convey “multiple checkmarks” such as being organic, using simple, unprocessed ingredients or being a socially and environmentally focused certified B Corp.
“That’s more of a baseline that you need to be able to include to stand out,” Fata said.
Show how a product solves a problem for the market, Rosen said, or for a particular consumer. “No one needs another electrolyte beverage, organic baby food or natural hair care line,” Rosen said. This can be expressed in product formulation, ingredients, price point value, quality or other highlights. Also show the versatility and usability of a product.
“If a brand communicates this in a concise, effective manner, it’s more likely that a retailer will pick up their products,” Rosen said.
Home in on a target customer demographic
Communicate a clear understanding of the target customer demographic. “All women within the ages of 24-45 are not a clear target demographic,” Rosen said. “A better example would be of a mom with a toddler who has specific food allergies or nutritional needs.” Be as specific as possible, Rosen said.
“If you can show how your product aligns with their customers’ needs, you’ll be one step closer to getting on the shelf,” she said.