7 Strategies CPG Brands Need to Approach Retail Buyers

Bedrock Analytics

by Bedrock Analytics

April 29, 2022

Securing shelf space can be one of the most coveted and competitive aspects for CPG brands. There is high competition for a very limited amount of linear footage. Getting your products on shelves requires getting your product to sell, but can also depend on how you approach retail buyers.

Think about your last trip to the grocery store, perusing every aisle and taking in the numerous options available for any particular item. Getting your product to stand out in crowded product categories can be incredibly difficult.

For CPG brands, getting your product on key retail shelves can be an essential part of your business or could signal a significant milestone for the business. Regardless of the reason, there are a few things you’ll want to have ready before trying to get that highly coveted shelf space in your local grocer or national chain. 

What CPG Brands Should Have BEFORE Approaching Retail Buyers

Too often, newer or emerging brands make the mistake of expecting strong brand recognition instantly. An ideal strategy is to target one or two key accounts in a highly-focused way. You don’t need to immediately go national. It can often be beneficial to first build up your sales story at smaller retail chains or retail divisions. 

If you can stand out as an emerging brand through velocity and strategic brand stories, you can establish your product or brand as a positive outlier in terms of growth or total dollars, creating a stronger foundation for when it comes time to expand into a large chain.

Why Focus on Helping Brands Approach Retail Buyers?

Bedrock has grown a great deal since our humble beginnings when we solely focused on emerging brands.  We now also power the world’s $B+ CPGs.  Yet we didn’t want to forget about helping newer brands that are making their way in a much more competitive marketplace than those that came before them. We’re here for you. This post is for you.

Here are 7 strategies a brand should secure before pitching to retailers:

1. Go To Market strategy

CPG brands need to know who their consumer is and outline their engagement strategy across different channels. This shows buyers that you’ve done the homework, identified why your product will sell in their stores and have direct ways to pull shoppers to their stores.  Approach it with an omni-channel lens to stand out from the crowd.  

2. Data Acquisition Strategy

Having access to reliable syndicated retail data helps brands compare themselves to their competition. These comparisons allow you to analyze the competition to best position your product against others in the space. Data allows CPG brands to create a story that highlights how having their product on the shelf will help the retailer to grow the category.  Leverage data visualization software to do this in minutes rather than weeks. This data typically comes from companies such as SPINS, NielsenIQ, IRI and NPD.  Use the right combination of e-comm, dtc, syndicated, POS, panel and other data sources to provide a full view of the category and the consumer.  Contact us to learn more about the different data providers.

3. Financial Strategy

Manufacturers should allocate enough funds to cover an entire year of new expenses before pitching an account or launching an aggressive expansion plan. Doing so enables brands to maintain and grow existing accounts while leaving breathing room to address shifting priorities. This strategy also guarantees that manufacturers can launch a product soon after a successful pitch.  A retail buyer will have a deep level of respect if you take this approach.  Show them you have the money for them – be direct about your commitment.  Get theirs.

4. Pricing & Promotion Strategy 

Working with different retailers will require CPGs to deploy different pricing and promotion tactics. Establishing a baseline price point is essential to your expansion success. Promotion pricing can fluctuate in response to each retailer’s pricing strategy – aligning with these expectations is the surest way to move volume consistently and in sync. 

5. Assortment Strategy

Manufacturers have to clearly articulate the role of their product in the category and how it can help differentiate the retailer with their shopper. 

Some questions that CPGs should ask themselves before approaching retail buyers are:

  • How incremental is it to the category? 
  • How does it benefit the shopper/guest? What value does it provide to the consumer? 
  • Does your product attract a unique shopper that the retailer cares about?
  • Does your product bring a larger market basket to the retailer?
  • Is it a sales driver or margin enhancer? 
  • Is the product a market gap opportunity? 

Answering these questions best positions your product in the buyer’s mind for placing it on the shelves.

6. Presentation Strategy

Research the retailer’s customer facing strategy. Ask yourself questions like: “What aisle should your product be in? Where should it be on the shelf? What is the display strategy?” Then forget about these – it isn’t up to you 😉  Make your best case. Give your prospective buyer all the ammo they need to get your product on the best part of the shelf. Make the decision as easy as possible for them.

7. Supply Chain Strategy

In today’s world, supply chains are much more volatile than in recent history. Having a plan to account for that is essential. Make note of how the product will be delivered and through what distribution channels (direct to retail, warehouses, wholesalers, or distributors). Show that you have a plan B, plan C in case your plan A fails.  Show your preparedness for disruptions is the best you can do against a long track record.

How Bedrock Helps Prepare CPG Brands in Approaching Retail Buyers

Brands can best support each retailer by orienting a strategy that best suits their needs, by leveraging data and delivering insights. Yet, with such a massive amount of sales data available through syndicated providers and retail portals, finding the right strategy for each channel and retailer can feel like an insurmountable task without the right tools. 

Bedrock was built to help transform CPG data into sales opportunities. Bedrock uses AI and machine learning, backed by strong domain expertise, to harmonize data from multiple sources, easily visualize data, and share important insights through compelling sales stories via automated presentations. Leveraging key data points in a specific format, Bedrock is able to help CPG brands quickly share their data in an easily digestible way that will make a lasting impression with buyers long after the initial pitch.

Without a business intelligence tool to help extract meaningful insights and make sense of the data, teams are left to manually combine and synthesize various data sets to measure performance and position in the category.

Tips for approaching and connecting with retail buyers shouldn’t be a secret.  Download Bedrock’s free eBook, What Retail Buyers Want, for additional insights into what your retail buyers are expecting in today’s changing marketplace.