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Are you really ready to go national?

e-commerce distribution boxes
Here are three things to consider before growing beyond regional distribution.

For many brands, the goal is to always grow. Grow in sales, grow in SKUs, and grow in distribution. But, as Natural Products Association president and CEO Daniel Fabricant points out, going from local or regional to national distribution isn’t a decision to take lightly. And, for some brands, it may not even be a good idea. Here are three things brands should ask themselves before making the leap.

1. Does your product have national appeal? 

When it comes to food and beverages, Fabricant says, certain regions have certain preferences. “If you’re marketing a baked good, for example, that appeals to an emotional connection from childhood in a certain region of the country, there may not be strong crossover there to other regions,” he says. That said, it’s not impossible for regional favorites to go national—just look at Kettle Brand, which started out appealing to local tastes in Oregon, and successfully went national.

2. Do you have expertise in the field?

“Have contacts with people on the ground in the new regions, who can fix things in a moment’s notice,” Fabricant says. “It’s essential to have people in those expanded territories.” Beyond that, it’s also important to have influencers in your new area. “In this day and age, as you go national, make sure your social media reflects that,” he adds. “If you’ve never been in California before, and your marketing is currently East Coast-centric, California customers will wonder why they need your product. Make sure you have someone who can play that role—regional influencers who are on board, love the brand, and want to see it grow.”

3. Is your local base strong?

Fabricant points out that brands will need a powerful local engine in order to succeed during an expansion. “You may not hit profitability in a new market for two or three years,” he says. “You have to keep the base strong to make up the difference in the meantime.”

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