How to move your products off shelves and into people’s carts
You’ve done step one - you’ve secured a distribution deal and your food and beverage product is finally going to be available in stores. Now comes the hard part: getting your product moving off the shelves! How do you get your product into people’s shopping carts and into their homes?
Before I answer that question, you need to ask yourself what your business and marketing objectives are. Are you trying to capture a completely new buyer? Are you trying to penetrate more households with your product? Are you trying to get consumers to switch from another brand to your brand? Your business objectives will determine your marketing objectives and in turn, help you choose the right marketing tactics to drive sales velocities.
When choosing the right marketing tactics to drive velocities, you’ll first want to first test and learn. Try different approaches, see which ones work best for your brand, and invest in scaling them. Choosing the right marketing tactics for your product will play a large role in moving it off the shelf and into your consumers’ carts.
There are four categories of marketing tactics that I typically recommend to new and emerging CPG brands. Use your business objectives to determine which of these categories is the right choice for your brand.
- Coupons/Store Rewards Programs/Ibotta - Partnering with your retailer's loyalty programs, distributing coupons, or working with third-party rebate apps like Ibotta can help drive awareness of your product and encourage first-time buyers to try it at a discounted rate. These programs typically have a minimum buy-in cost between $10,000 and $30,000, and per-unit costs of $1-3 are a good option if you have the distribution to make them worth the high buy-in cost.
- Sampling Programs - Partnering with sampling programs like PinchMe and Brand Share are a great way to get your products in front of your target consumer. Sampling programs can be highly specific with their consumer targeting, so you know your product will be going to people in your identified audience. Sampling programs are another good option if you have the distribution to support it. These programs can cost anywhere between $0.50 to $2.00 to distribute depending on product size and weight, plus they typically have high minimums, usually between $5,000 - $10,000.
“All you, baby” tactics
- Leverage your social media and email communities - Your social media and email communities are already a fan of you and your product, so use your social channels and newsletter to announce your distributions and encourage your followers and subscribers to purchase your product at their local store. Give them tools to be your advocate too, like a giveaway for people who tag your product on social.
- Influencer partnerships - Look for retailer fan accounts on social media (Costco and Whole Foods both have one) and see if there are any partnership opportunities to feature your product. This gets your product front and center for a new audience that is already shopping at your retailer. Similarly, you can work with influencers that are values-aligned and are based in the region your retailer is in. Their followers won't be 100% in your target geography, but it's still a good option!
- Leverage your personal network, friends, and family - Get your friends and family to support you, both through purchases at their local store, but also by making sure your product is arranged on the shelves beautifully and is positioned to catch your consumers’ eyes.
- Geo-targeted digital marketing - Geo-targeted digital marketing is a great tool for awareness campaigns and letting a local audience know that your product is available in a store close to them. This tactic is especially great because it works across all budgets and allows you to target customers in a hyper-local area. You can also use geo-targeting campaigns to A/B test which landing pages and content resonates most with your audience.
- Shelf tags - Is your product first to market, local, or women-owned? Use shelf tags to call attention to these attributes and catch consumers’ eyes. Make sure your shelf tags grab attention from six feet away, are ready to read from one foot away, and drives the sale from zero feet away.
- Shopper marketing partnerships with your retailer - Does your retailer offer sampling programs, have email or text campaigns, or do giveaways on their social channels? If so, ask your buyer who you should talk with to have your product can be featured through one of these channels. Some retailers charge for this type of marketing partnership, while others don't. If it's a paid program, ask for past results to make sure the ROI makes sense for you. This can be a great way to drive awareness and trial of your product.
- Merchandisers - This can consist of floor shippers, counter displays, trays, etc. and it’s important to make sure that you’re making the best use of this retail space. You’re paying for it, so make sure your set-up is working for you and driving purchases.
Don’t forget the fundamentals!
- Clear product positioning so that consumers know why they’re buying your product - Consumers should have a clear understanding of why you are different from other products and what makes you special and sets you apart from competitors.
- Packaging that looks good and stands out on the shelf - When you’re choosing packaging, make sure that it will help your product stand out in the categories that you're merchandised in. Consumers make purchasing decisions within four to six seconds, so it’s important that your product stands out on the shelf.
- Consistent messaging across all your assets - Identify the one thing about your product you want consumers to know and make sure that messaging is consistent across all of your assets. Repeat, repeat, repeat - your consumers are not paying close attention to your marketing so you really have to say the same things, in different ways, across all of your marketing communications.
As I mentioned above, your marketing tactics should support your marketing objectives and business objectives. It is critical that you define these before moving forward with any marketing tactic. As you A/B test various marketing tactics before determining which ones to invest in, make sure you’re tracking your results and understanding what they mean for your bottom line - you want to understand what you’re getting for your money!