Getting your Product in the Supermarket
As a manufacturer of food products selling through local convenience and grocery stores, your long term ultimate goal would be to see them in branded supermarkets as they can give you the right kind of exposure and guaranteed market which is difficult with small scale stores. You have to adopt flexible strategies and work with experienced experts that can tell you how to get products into c stores which are in supermarket range. There are two basic rules of supply to supermarkets and large retailers wherein you can sell under your brand or as unbranded products which will be sold by them under their own brand.
Supermarkets prefer unbranded products as it helps them boost their brand, but if you have a special brand the retailer would not be able to squeeze your margins and you can use this as a platform to increase market for your products.
You can use the assistance of convenience store brokers as they have long term relations with large supermarkets to get your products there or try to meet them yourself as a food product manufacturer to promote your brand. Once you get an appointment with a buyer of a supermarket chain present yourself as an organized and knowledgeable person with information about the potential of your product, the price you expect to get for it and how it will be broken up to meet profit margins of distributor and retailer.
Large retailers rarely accept unknown brands under their roof unless they are allowed to sell it as their products, but if you have a product that is recognized in local markets and recommended by food distributors and you offer them attractive discounts they will readily accept it on an experimental level.
Niche products can create the right impact if marketed and distributed to the right market and also bring large profits to its manufacturers. A recent study by National Association for Specialty Food Trade stated that in the forthcoming years this specialty food sector will account for $50 billion sales in forthcoming years. Large retailers can afford to offer better prices on specialty food products supplied by wholesale grocery distributors which can give greater exposure to your products than gourmet stores. While trying to get your product into supermarkets see if your existing production unit will be able to handle the large scale demand from them.
Food and beverage brands which today are famous in international markets have cleverly used the strategy of getting the right product at the right price in the right market at the right time making it an instant success.
Steps to get product into supermarkets – If you have a winning product which has been a hit in local markets and you are confident of meeting demand of large stores then you can try the following techniques to get them into supermarkets.
Carry out market research – Before marketing your product carry out a detailed market research to study existing competitors in the market and compare it with your product to find the differential factor that makes it special. Visit food product exhibitions and read up extensively on information online and offline to study how markets work and reasons behind failure of some good and bad brands. This information will help you to avoid problems that are likely to occur in beverage distribution and food distribution and help in timely delivery of your product to large retailers.
Enlist help of grocery distributors – When you are ready to reach out to big league retailers take the help of your distributors who have better knowledge of market demand and know which of the big retailers can stock your product and also provide the right kind of exposure to your brand. They will give unbiased feedback about products that have been popular in the past and how your product can be marketed and presented to large retailer for instant success. Super markets will not have the bandwidth to develop and market your product so you have to carry out branding, packaging by yourself so take the help of others before you.
CheckStand program – As a manufacturer you may not be keen about engaging in marketing side of your product and would like to hand over that responsibility to an expert. This daunting task can be performed by a professional group called CheckStand program which specializes in launching convenience products into small and large retailers. It offers manufacturers two programs depending on the product type to enter the retail industry and create a niche for itself in the competitive c-store product market.
The CSP works with manufacturers to design pack and present the product in an attractive manner and carry out test programs within all their affiliate stores. If the product gets a good response from customers then it is distributed through grocery store distributors across the nation or state depending on the manufacturing capacity of manufacturer.
Getting the logistics in place – If you are planning to get the large supermarkets to accept your products then get your logistic plan in your presentation. They will ask you to deliver a particular number of units at a particular store one day and deliver the next consignment of specific number of units across stores in a particular state which is not possible unless you have a distribution network in mind. Talk to wholesale food suppliers in your area which make deliveries to the supermarket for a clear knowledge about delivery schedules so you can work out a viable agreement with your client. Do not try to push capacity to breaking point and always have a backup plan in place wherever delivery schedules are concerned.
Manufacturers have a tendency to stop marketing and promoting their products once they reach supermarket shelves. But the real competition starts when the product is sitting on the shelves besides other market leaders are trying to attract attention of shoppers who are looking at it for the first time. Maintain constant interaction with your target customers and take their opinion to improve your product or add new ones to the brand. Offer attractive discounts to your distributors and retailers to sweeten the deal and retain your product on the store shelves.