Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

How to Catapult Your
New Retail Listings from Expo West

Joanna Tran is the Brand & Content Manager at Social Nature. She tells the stories of better-for-you brands who use Social Nature’s platform to drive targeted trial at retail. Social Nature is the exclusive digital sampling partner of Startup CPG.

We hope this year’s Expo West has you feeling excited and inspired. Many of the products and innovations that debuted at the show will soon be in store. If this is you, congratulations! The retail buyers have agreed to take your product and place it on their shelves.

You and your team have worked so hard to get here. Now what do you need to do to make sure your products fly off the shelves?

Before we talk about marketing tactics, let’s revisit the logistics.

How to prepare your product for the shelf

1. Check your logistics

The retail buyers have confirmed their orders. Now it’s your turn to confirm your logistics. Check that you have enough inventory to ship and the time it takes to fulfill the shipments. Then you can work backward to determine the best time to kick off your marketing activities. Your marketing efforts will be most impactful when you have sufficient products on the shelf. This will maximize your marketing dollars.

2. Follow-up with the buyer

Once you’ve confirmed your shipments, probe the retail buyer to ask if there are any additional opportunities to increase your in-store presence. There could be new openings since your last chat. Ask about displays, aisles, end caps, shelf-talkers, opportunities to market to their loyalty cardholders, and more. Book in any support that makes sense for your brand and budget.

If you didn’t have a chance to discuss this before, ask the buyer how they evaluate the success of new listings and product launches. You want to understand their expectations and if there are any key metrics you need to hit. For example, is there a target velocity or units per store you need to achieve in a certain amount of time for your listing to be successful?

“Getting your product on the shelf is one thing, but staying on the shelf and getting customers to notice and pick up your product the first time is a challenge,” says Brian Polencheck, VP Sales of FDM Sales Management. “If the proper marketing and promotion budget is not in place the chance of failure is much greater.”

This is why having sufficient marketing support is crucial to the success of your new listing. We’ll share some retail-focused initiatives you can use to catapult your listings from Expo West.

Move products off the shelf with online and offline retail support

Basic online awareness of your brand or new product is not enough. Thankfully, there are many levers you can pull to support your listings. You want to focus on activities that will drive in-store discovery and trial.

1. Drive trial with an enticing offer

One barrier consumers have with trying new products is price. Consumers want to derisk their spend. Consider providing an enticing offer such as a temporary price reduction (TPR) with the retailer or distribute coupons. If you leverage coupons, you can provide a certain amount off, Buy One Get One (BOGO), or even provide a free trial coupon through digital sampling programs like Social Nature.

2. Paid digital ads with a retailer-focus

Most product discovery starts online. As consumers, we’re learning about new products through friends and in the online spaces where we hang out with our communities.
Paid digital ads can seem like a no-brainer, but brands can use new listing opportunities to go beyond emotional and functional awareness campaigns. This is your chance to create retailer-focused ads that are geo-targeted to nearby distribution. It’s a win-win for sales and marketing.

As Adam Brown, President and Founder of creative CPG agency Sircle Media explains, “Many launches fail due to lack of paid social support, lack of influencer support, and not using strategic content in their social efforts to create awareness, consideration, and trial at retail. Brands can deploy motion graphic assets that include the logo of their retail partner, target audiences that include fans of X-retailer as a component, and then push paid social efforts consistently in a small geographic footprint.”

Tate Glasgow, VP of Marketing of keto ice cream brand Killer Creamery adds additional tips, “Paid social, Google, and Microsoft ad network all have the ability to geo-target ads down to a specific address. We look for people with similar interests or that have visited us in the past and try to target them within 10 miles of our retail locations. Warning: Do not target for targeting sake. Hitting someone 8 times a day is not going to make you any friends. Make sure your creative is relevant (A/B testing) and the copy makes sense to them.”

3. Notify your mailing list about your new launch

Your existing customers opted-in to your mailing list for a reason – they love your products and want to know about new launches and innovations. Send an email to let them know about your new product launch and where they can buy it. Be sure to include details of any special offers. You can further segment your list and messaging by ZIP code and their preferred retailer if you have that data.

Molly Savage, Head of Growth at superfood trailmix brand Toodaloo explains, “I’ve found success segmenting email subscriber lists by geography (cities or zip codes) to announce a local store launch or showcase a new product on shelves. The emails include details about the launch or product, any promotions and intentional creative, either a video of where to find in store or a photo of the product being held up in front of its shelf or end cap. It provides a point of reference for the customer so they know what to look for and where.”

4. Engage your existing customers through community-based marketing

Similar to your mailing list, you already have fans on social and across your digital channels that you can reach out to. Tap into your network and include them in your launch strategy. According to a Social Nature community member survey, 75% of consumers love sharing products and offers with their friends and family, and 56% post photos and reviews on social channels.

Consumers like to share recommendations because it increases their own influence within their circles. You can tap into this by aligning your new product launch to the values and attributes that are top of mind for them. Think about habits, usage occasions, or upcoming events that are relevant to your consumer.

You can package this into a contest or keep the conversation going through social. For example, if your product helps your audience eat healthily conveniently, you can ask them how they would use the extra time they saved from prepping to live the life they desire. You could even seed this into a larger contest or content strategy by incorporating their answers or UGC into the creative assets you develop.

If you’re an emerging brand, consistently engaging with your audience and gathering their feedback will help you determine and prioritize who your tribes are. “The way most food brands grow is through finding their initial ‘tribes’ and building from there. Digital-first retail marketing allows you to prioritize your tribes whether they be plant-based, health-conscious moms, consumers who also buy another category frequently, etc.,” says Jake Kneller, Co-Founder and CEO of frozen treats brand Sweet Nothings.

You can further engage in community-based marketing by meeting your tribe IRL. Participate in consumer events that are close to areas of high distribution to sample your products and meet new and existing consumers.

You’re ready to crush your listings

If you’re looking for more ways to get your products off the shelf or leverage existing customers for new product launches, check out our Complete Guide to Online-to-Offline (O2O) Marketing for CPG Brands. It’s a completely free e-book with 50 pages of tips and expert advice from 17 CPG experts.

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