Posted: Wed 13th May 2020
Wellness start-ups need a strong USP and glowing pitch to win retail listings. Bespoke Advantage founder Janet Milner-Walker shared her advice on developing your USP, building a community and buyer meetings ahead of her talk at The Beauty and Wellness Exchange.
One of the most important steps to getting listings is to create a strong USP, according to Janet. Buyers need to have a range of products that appeal to their customers, so start-up wellness brands have to have a clear and appealing point of difference.
"Prior to developing a brand, you need to do market research. Find out what the trends are and who is doing what in the industry. Who are your competitors and how are you going to differentiate yourself?" she said.
Janet cites wellness brand DECIEM as a good example. DECIEM describes itself as "The Abnormal Beauty Company". The indie beauty brand has differentiated itself by building a direct relationship with customers and leveraging this to find out what they're looking for. Its key differentiators are:
They provide a lot of value in terms of formulation and are competitively priced
They're very transparent about the ingredients
Buyers expect modern wellness brands to have a strong community.
"As a new brand, one of the most important things is to build up a social media following," Janet said. "The way to demonstrate that is the number of followers but, more importantly, how much they engage; how many people are excited about the product?"
Instagram, Facebook and YouTube can all be valuable for new businesses, the latter in particular when it comes to educating customers. Buyers also look for PR and collaborations with complementary brands.
Pop-ups and trade shows provide an opportunity to meet customers, but trade shows can be quite expensive for a start-up brand.
"The purpose is to get in front of your core consumer - being able to present your product on a one-to-one basis and have conversations with them. That's great market research and brand exposure," said Janet.
She provided three key points to cover with customers:
Who they are and what they like
What they're looking for
What they think of your brand and product
Think about consumer trends and retailers' interest in them. For example, a lot of retailers want to reduce packaging and plastic.
"If they're a chain, you need to go into several stores before going in to see a retailer," said Janet. "Depending on the site and location, they might be quite different. See where they would position the brand in the store. How would it look on the shelf? Talk to staff and ask what's going on in the retailer."
She added that some people have taken products into stores and taken a photo to put into their retail deck (a presentation that you show buyers).
Janet mentioned several key points that start-up wellness brands often fail to address:
Pricing: You need to build in retail margins, which can be 50-60%, and still afford to be in a retailer.
Retailers' marketing calendars: You may need a budget for promotions.
Merchandising: Some retailers want brochures and leaflets and stands, others don't want anything; you need to factor that into your presentation.
Future product development: Share your plan because they may be looking for something on your roadmap or have feedback.
Your brand story: The reason why you started. The authenticity and point of difference.
Janet advised wellness brands to look for a win-win situation with buyers.
"It's about building win-win relationships in retail," she said. "As a brand, you need to put yourself in the retailers' shoes and think about the focus of the business and what they're trying to achieve. Develop the brand presentation to show that you understand the retailer."