The day that you get your first significant order from a retailer is one of the most exciting days of your career, but from then on it can feel like a tug of war just trying to maintain that win and keep your head above water. That’s the reality for many brand owners and many clients find the buyer relationship frustrating or even infuriating. For those who feel that way, I’d like to reframe.
There is a significant difference between supermarket buyers and selling to independent stores but that’s for a different blog. For this blog I am focusing on the big boys, the supermarkets and looking at our experiences of best results and best practice.
Buyers are an investor in your brand; their mission is to grow their category and maximise profit from every inch of shelf they have, so its efficacy is vital. They are approached daily by brand owners looking to get their product on the shelf. They are bombarded by gorgeous packaging and fabulous products and are left to evaluate how it may perform. Evaluate it for them…present your brand as a story with a direction of travel and a view to how your efforts will grow their sales.
Consider the category, your competitors, and the landscape that the shelf presents to their customers and look at where you can offer category growth. It is possible…when we moved the small animal category at Pets at Home away from own label to the engaging Woodlands brand, the entire category grew by 38% year on year. So, make sure your product has its own unique purpose!
The bigger the opportunity, the tighter the margins and this certainly applies to the supermarkets. So, as they say in Dragon’s Den, “you have to know your numbers!.” Buyers are trained to negotiate but the negotiation is a game that both parties must win. It’s their objective to get the best deal, but that’s your job too. The more sales from the same shelf space the more profit and margin for everyone.
The relationship should be more like a progressive partnership than a haggle battle and with this in mind a great read is How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, there’s a reason they say the old ones are the best!
So, plan your brand story, present your category growth plan, know your numbers, and negotiate…then the buyer becomes your greatest advocate.