You need to invest to get your product off the shelf - SKUFood
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You need to invest to get your product off the shelf

What can you afford?

There is so much work required to get your product to the shelf, but your work does not stop there. You really do have to get your product off the shelf to deliver sales. In our food and beverage industry we have trained consumers to look for ‘deals’. It can be a challenge to compete in this arena.

There are two components of your investment to consider:

Trade spend-the dollars you invest with your customers to sell your products. These are items like discounts for ads, in-store specials, loyalty programs, over and above for promotions, in store demos (when we can do them) and any other investment you make with your customers like listing fees.

Marketing spend-the dollars you invest to reach consumers directly, outside the store. This would include mass media advertising, social media, public relations and other direct to consumer initiatives.

There is no “one size fits all” answer to the question; how much should I spend? It really depends on your economic model, the category you compete in, your customers and the consumers you are trying to sell to.

In our C.A.R.T. process the Retail plan column includes the question; What can you afford?

You do need to invest to get your product off the shelf and into the shopping cart.

To figure out what you need to spend you should be talking to your customers, watching your category and planning what you need to do to meet your sales forecasts.

Retailers should have an expectation for what it takes in your category to be successful. Remember they are not your marketing manager, you are. Do not just ask them “what do I need to do?”. Show them a plan and look for feedback. They will provide the information you need, but also have respect for you. Look at all of the different options with each customer. Some retailers put more focus on multi buy programs and others have loyalty programs. Some have both. As we discussed last week each retailer is unique and you need to consider the options at each customer. You do need to work to keep a level playing field so manage your trade spend across your customers to be equitable.

Set up a simple process to track ads and other offers in your category. Your customers will be looking at the spend from each customer and part of their job is to increase this trade spend. Signage does sell products. If your product is on the shelf with no activity and other items in the category have signage, even if the value is less, consumers might be influenced. Consumers are savvy but they also perceive items with signage or on over and above displays to be a better deal. Consider how many weeks during the year you need to have a sign on your items and the best investment to get the signs.

Your trade spend should be directly proportional to your sales forecasts. Be proactive and assess what you need to do to deliver the sales. If you have sales history with customers review what was done to deliver these sales. If you are targeting a 10% increase, what will you do to deliver these cases? It will not just happen.

When you do plan trade spend remember to assess if it works. Your customers will always tell you it is the best investment to make. Only you can determine this so measurer the results. It can be a challenge but it is important to consider if the investment is worth it. Consider every trade spend an investment. Forecast the results and look at your sales to see if you hit the targets. This can be important information to discuss at your next retailer meeting.

Marketing spend is important too

Despite what I might have said when I worked at Loblaw…you do need to speak directly to consumers and build relationships. With social media you do have many more options now to connect directly with consumers. You can build your own online community and benefit from the two-way conversations that are possible.

It can be more difficult to really assess the payback from mass media and even social media. You really do need to deliver sales to stay on the shelf. Focus your marketing spend on initiatives that will resonate with those consumers who are most likely to buy.

If possible, tie your trade spend and marketing spend together. Retailers are more likely to interact with you on social media when they see a benefit for them. There are many examples where both suppliers and retailers benefit from sharing online content with each other. Remember it cannot be all one way or they will not play the game with you.

There are many options for trade spend and marketing spend. Download our SKUFood list and if you have other options we can add to our list that have worked for you, it would be great to hear about them. Email me at

In celebration of our 100th edition of the SKUFood newsletter we decided to give away one free SKUFood membership!

We appreciate the people who shared the value they receive from our SKUFood newsletters. We are excited to let you know Honey Bunny Products in Peace River Alberta will enjoy a FREE SKUFood membership. Congratulations!

In their entry they told us:

“I have found these newsletters so valuable. I often read them to our team at our monthly staff meeting. It makes things like explaining why service level is so important that much easier and really helps me explain to our team that everything they do affects the final customer.”

Consumers are changing

You have heard me say before how consumers are changing. What they buy, how they buy and so many other aspects of our industry are changing. This week there were some big announcements we wanted to share with you.

Epicurious, a great app for recipes and culinary information announced they would not be developing any more recipes that include beef. They have decided consumers are moving to more plant based diets and they will no longer promote or share any beef recipes or cooking tips. They will continue to list the beef recipes already developed but they will not create any more.

In a separate, but related announcement, famous New York City restaurant 11 Madison Park announced they would be offering a 100% vegan menu when they re-open. This world-renowned Michelin 3 star restaurant has decided this is where their consumers are going and they will focus on a re-designed menu when they open

Even if you are not offering plant based products, you do need to develop recipes that appeal to consumers who are eating differently.

If you have any questions or help figuring out how to get your product on the shelf or in the shopping cart you can always call me at (902) 489-2900 or send me an email