Posted: Tue 11th Mar 2014
More and more retailers are recognising the benefits of stocking innovative quality products from small British businesses. Here are some top tips from three small enterprises that have successfully pitched themselves to food buyers and are now being stocked on supermarket shelves across the country.
What's in it for me? Says Kuldip Sahota of Mr Singh's Sauce
Part 1: WIIFM stands for "what is in it for me?". A philosophy we apply to all of our customers both big and small. This tip states for you (the seller) to put yourself in the shoes of the buyer and ask "what is in it for the buyer to list my product"? Buyers are busy and under immense pressure, your job as a perfect supplier is to ultimately make them money without them having to do much work.
In order to do this for a large retailer, research and understand what the role of the buyer entails (Google search food buyer jobs), what their expectations are and be able to clearly state, what is unique about your brand (aside from taste/quality), then, what are you going to do to sell the product for the buyer.
Part 2: Once you have completed Part 1, prepare for how you are going to execute your proposal. Financially, logistically, physically (person power) and marketing. Once you have a sound plan in mind, put it on paper, simplify it and this will give you confidence in your discussions with your buyer to gain a listing. This is normally a multi-stage process, so be prepared for it to take some time.
Know your product. Know your market, says Lucy Woodhouse of Claudi & Fin
You are talking to experts so it's vital to know your product and your market otherwise it's impossible to feel confident pitching; and there are also many free ways to do it. We went to the Business & IP Centre at the British Library and found out loads of market information on frozen yoghurt and ice cream. We also put together an online survey which helped to answer questions we couldn't find answers to such as how consumers perceived frozen yoghurt and what would make them buy it more often
We continue to walk up and down the supermarket aisles every week and look at what our competitors are doing; what new flavours have launched, new box sizes, new ingredients, new listings. Finally, we talked to anyone who would listen! Ingredients companies, packaging suppliers, marketing experts and chiefly our target audience mums.
Knowledge of your market and product is the best armour when you walk into a pitch room and makes you immediately credible with your audience.
Research your supermarket, says Brian Watt of award winning drinking chocolate, Hans Sloane
Visit as many supermarkets or food chains as possible, especially their concept stores. Read their strategy and talk to anyone in your network who has worked there, as they may understand what they are looking for better. Even take out a free 30 day trial membership for IGD which has great insights on retailers.
Armed with this information you are better prepared for the negotiation. We knew that each of the buyers had been charged with a target of innovation and premiumisation in their categories. So when the buyer demanded a lower price, we said our product was unique, our packaging was unique and our story was unique, hence the premium.
Next question was, do you want to deliver direct or through a distributor?