Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Using Data to
Win Distribution

NielsenIQ is a proud sponsor of Startup CPG.

Trade shows are important—and costly—investments. Travel, lodging, marketing materials, and renting a booth can quickly add up, so you need to make the most of your limited time onsite with buyers to get the biggest return.

So, how do you stand out at the biggest trade show of the year? Courtesy of our friends at NielsenIQ Byzzer, today we’ll share the secret sauce for winning over distributors and shelf space at Expo West—and any other trade shows where you’ll rub elbows with retail buyers.

The Magic Words: Think from the Buyer’s Perspective

It may sound obvious, but the first key to successful selling is to see things from a retailer’s perspective. They are concerned about profit and their bottom line. In their eyes, new products are a substantial risk, not something to try for the sake of variety.

Your job is to show them that your product is a safe bet. Using just a few pieces of targeted category data, you can build a unique selling story that demonstrates how your brand will enhance their category and contribute to higher sales.

There are three key components of a successful pitch at Expo West: your growth, your velocity, and your unique product story.


Growth is the name of the game for retailers. Although you may not have the same gross sales as national brands, your brand can attract buyers if it shows strong sales growth over time.

It’s particularly crucial to know how your product growth compares to the overall category. If your organic granola bar is growing at 30% while the category is growing at just 14%, your product represents a clear opportunity to retailers who want to increase sales.

The more you can highlight that your product is going to make a category more profitable, the more your pitch will resonate with retailers.


In simple terms, velocity shows a retailer how quickly your product sells. The faster it sells, the more money they make and the more orders they’ll send for your brand. Velocity is particularly important in today’s selling environment. According to a recent NielsenIQ analysis, CPG retailers reduced the overall number of products sold in their stores by 10% over the past two years, removing slower-selling items in favor of high-velocity products.

Small brands tend to have a lower velocity than their category, especially when they are new to the marketplace. Fortunately, there’s a simple workaround: focus on growth. If your velocity is growing faster than the category’s velocity, citing this data can be a powerful way to strengthen your case for getting your product on a retailer’s shelf.

Unique Product Story

Although a product story alone isn’t enough to get your brand on more shelves, it is still a vital component of any pitch. The key is to approach it from a retailer’s point of view. One of the most valuable things to convey in a product story is your niche—or rather, the profitable new customers in that niche your product will attract.

For example, say you’re the only vegan, organic, or gluten-free option for granola bars that would go on Retailer A’s shelf. Your product will naturally bring a new type of consumer. If sales are increasing for products with your differentiating attribute, you can show the retailer that you’ll bring this growth to their shelf if they give you space.

Putting it All Together

By combining category data with your unique product story, you can clearly show retailers why your brand is a lucrative opportunity rather than a risk. It’s a winning recipe for every interaction you have with potential retail buyers at Expo West or any other trade show.

Want Free Access to Category Data Before the Big Show?

As a member of Startup CPG’s community, you can sign up for a free subscription of NielsenIQ Byzzer, a platform making business intelligence accessible to small businesses. You’ll get three free reports, plus a weekly email alert with actions you can take to grow your brand.

NielsenIQ Byzzer acts like your own personal team of data analysts. Rather than handing you a wall of numbers to interpret, this platform tells you what the data means and provides clear recommendations for the best course of action. With powerful insights, an easy-to-use interface, and affordable subscriptions designed for small businesses, Byzzer is made to help you evolve into a national brand. Check out the virtual event we did with Startup CPG here for more information.

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