A successful food business has many components. You need great products that deliver your value proposition, you need consistent production to keep your customers happy, you need qualified people who can fulfill their role in production and the other parts of your business and you need resources dedicated to sales. If you hear me speak at a conference or an event you will hear me say, “success in this industry is not just about making great products to sell; it’s about selling the great products you produce”.
Most of the producers I meet are very focused on production. Often it is their passion and depth of knowledge in this part of the business is what they see as invaluable. It is true you need great products and without them you have no business. However, you also need to ensure there is the infrastructure within your business to sell all of the great products you are producing.
We have developed a process to get more of your products in more shopping carts more often. We call this process CART and over the upcoming months I will share the process to help you sell more. There are 4 essential ingredients in this recipe for success:
Alignment with your customers
Retail plan to sell your products
Trust with consumers and customers
It has to start with the consumer
One of the great things about the food industry is that consumers shop regularly and they vote at the cash register every time they are in the store or shop on line. You need to understand consumers who buy your products.
You need to have a solid profile of who they are. This is the only way you can determine if your product is relevant, the right size, in the right package or perhaps even the right level of processing. How can you determine any of these things if you do not know who will buy the product or who is buying the product?
For you to have the best opportunity to build relationships, sell your products and build trust with your retail customers, you need to understand your consumers. Retailers do not have the level of depth they had about consumer insights, and categories are often too broad for category managers to really understand consumers like you should. A thorough understanding of who your consumers are and why they buy your products will set you apart from many other suppliers.
Who is buying your products?
There are many questions you should ask about the consumers who are buying your products. Perhaps you have considered some of these before and incorporated them into the size you sell or the packaging you use.
You need to think about demographics such as:
Age, gender, household composition, education, income and where they live.
You also need to think of other factors that define consumers such as:
What interests do they have?
What other products would they buy?
Where would they go for information about your business or products?
When and where do they make the decision to buy?
How important are issues of sustainability to them? Will they only buy in environmentally friendly packaging and would information about food waste impact the purchase decision?
You can learn about many of these attributes by going to stores and watching who buys what. You can also find information in trade publications, industry associations and by participating in research projects. In my opinion these are all great resources but there is nothing better than watching consumers shop in a store. You can learn so much.
SKUFood members for a more detailed worksheet on consumers and customers check out the Success Map “Your product how & what” inside SKUFood.
If you are not a SKUFood member check out the benefits of membership.
There are many factors to consider and attributes you should think about when defining your consumer. This profile should never be final, as consumers are constantly changing. You should review it periodically to ensure it is still relevant with consumers in the market. Challenge different people in your organization to add to the profile. They might see it a bit differently than you do.
When you have a profile of your consumer, include it in your decision-making. Certainly you have other factors to consider such as what can you afford, what can you produce, what your customers (retailers & wholesalers) want but the consumer needs a voice in your decision making process too. When you have a solid profile you will make consumer focused decisions, which always have a better chance of success.
We are excited to be offering two courses with Perennia this year to help your business in 2020.
For producers and processors who have products in retail there is the Surviving to Thriving program. This is designed for producers and processors already in production and on the shelf. There would be category exclusivity in these sessions to ensure that participants are not in competition with one another while learning. There are only ten seats available ensuring that each business will receive specific and one on one training. By the end of the 7 week course, participants will be able to:
· Articulate their unique selling proposition
· Understand how to develop an annual promotion plan
· Develop prosperous relationships with retailers
· Walk the store and understand what is happening
· Implement the process to generate a price increase
· Prepare and deliver a kick ass presentation to a category manager
For producers and processors who are developing new ideas into products there is the Great idea to viable product course. This six week course is specifically designed for Nova Scotia agriculture producers and agri-food processors who are passionate about a product but to date have no consistent production or sales history. In other words, they are doing direct selling and want to expand distribution and get a product to the shelf. There would be category exclusivity in these sessions to ensure that participants are not in competition with one another while learning. There are only ten seats available ensuring that each business will receive specific and one on one training.
By the end of the course, participants will have:
· An enticing unique selling proposition for their product
· Defined the target market and the value for each product
· Understanding of the components of a successful product
· Improved knowledge of the grocery store, the product category, what their customer is trying to accomplish and where they can play a role in making the customer more successful
· Understanding of the capabilities of a successful food business
· A 12 month sales and promotion plan
· A thorough understanding of how to develop a strong long-term relationship with retail customers
· Know how to get the product listed at a retailer
· New confidence that will be evident when meeting with category managers
If you have any questions about developing a consumer profile or any of these opportunities please give me a call at (902) 489-2900 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.