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Sampling in retailer meetings are the most important demos you will do

Sampling in retailer meetings are the most important demos you will do 

Retailers want to be confident the products they put on the shelf perform. There are a number of criteria they will consider before they agree to list a product. Meeting or exceeding their expectations for taste and performance are two of these criteria. These are important and you want to give your product the best chance to get listed. 

Some products are easy to sample in a meeting with a category manager. Others can be a challenge. You should think about how you will get them excited about your products. Your product on the end of a popsicle stick really is not that exciting! 

Bring out your samples when you are ready 

Plan to bring out your samples at the appropriate time in the meeting. The conversation will shift to the product, which is great, but remember your ability to cover the other issues will be limited once the samples come out.  Products are usually most interesting to category managers so once they are on the table, their attention will shift to your product, not your message.  

You are best to keep the products ‘away’ until you are ready to sample them. You might need product to point out an attribute on your packaging and you need to avoid the temptation to open it up. Remember you need to focus on your key points. Although it is great they want to try it, you will lose their attention. You might want to use an empty package to illustrate your point and avoid the shift from benefits to product. 

They should experience it as consumers do 

It can be a challenge to accomplish a true product experience, but it is very valuable. When you figure out how to make it happen, your customers will appreciate the efforts. You might need some help in preparation and equipment to make it happen. Communicate with the customer in advance to ensure you have access to power or water. Often, the assistant category manager can be a help with these details. Remember to provide them with some samples. 

Real dishes and the right temperature are examples of delivering the right experience. Coffee in a real coffee mug is better than a paper cup that burns their fingers. Remember to take napkins and if there is something that should accompany the product, like a cracker with cheese, make it the right one. You can use private label products to accompany your sampling if they help to deliver the right experience. Just make sure it is their private label. 
Make it memorable 

Category managers see hundreds of product samples. I would have sat through hundreds of these meetings during my time with Loblaw. I can only remember a few. These were the ones where the supplier went to the extra effort to deliver a great experience. It does make a difference. 

Ask yourself what can I do to ensure this person is talking about our products on the weekend to their friends and family. When you can answer that question you probably have your sampling plan. 

Point out the positives 

The positives are product attributes and benefits, as defined by the retailer, not you. Do not tell them it tastes great or that it works incredibly well.  Design your sampling to ensure they come to this conclusion.  Can you imagine how many suppliers tell them their product is great? They become desensitized to this and will only come to this conclusion when they are ready, not when you tell them. 

Category managers see a lot of items and they might miss the obvious in yours. Take the time to point out the attributes and benefits and how it delivers value to them. When they are trying the product prepare a list of questions where you know the answers. In other words ask them questions designed to have them tell you what is great about your product. 

For example, if you know you have 50% more chocolate chunks than your competitor, you should ask them “how do you find the chocolate chunks?”  When they tell you there are more, that is so much more effective than you  telling them. You can reinforce the “50% more” message but this method ensures they figure it out. 

Demonstrate food safety 

We know food safety is important. When you plan your sampling, this is an opportunity to reinforce the position your business takes for food safety. Keep products at the right temperature and demonstrate correct food handling practices. If you are a sales and marketing person ask the right person in your business how this should be done. 

Practice makes perfect 

You should practice the sampling in advance.  

Practice your sampling on your own colleagues prior to the meeting or perhaps some people who are not as familiar with your own products. You will be surprised at what people do and what you might never think of. You want to  find the right techniques to make your product be the best it can be. 

Determine how to make this a WOW. What can you do to stand out from your competition? This is not simply letting them try it; your job is to make them want it. 


SKUFood Recipes for Success Podcast

We are super excited to announce we have launched our SKUFood Recipes for Success podcast. We have been working on this project for a while and it is finally ready to share with all of you. Our intention is to share the stories of food businesses and others in the value chain while also providing insights that are interesting and helpful to people in the food and beverage industry.

In this episode we are joined by Cheryl Donnelly, Senior Market Development Officer at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). With 14 years of experience in international affairs at AAFC, Cheryl has been instrumental in driving market development strategies and initiatives in regions such as the EU and the Middle East. Her expertise extends to leading the modernization of AAFC's Canada Brand Program, aimed at promoting Canadian agri-food and seafood products on the global stage.

Cheryl has a proven track record of success, having led e-commerce and digital marketing campaigns in Japan and Vietnam as part of launching the Canada Brand internationally. Currently, she's focused on the Indo-Pacific region, devising strategic approaches to help companies capitalize on export opportunities.

Join us as Cheryl shares her insights into export trade, market
development strategies, and the importance of the Canada Brand in promoting
Canadian products globally. Whether you're a seasoned exporter or new to
international trade, this episode offers valuable lessons and strategies for
success in the ever-expanding global market.

Listen and subscribe where ever you get your podcasts.

Where is Peter Speaking?

What do you think of Loblaw boycott?

No doubt consumers are frustrated with grocery store prices.

It is interesting Loblaw are the lightening rod for this initiative.

Perhaps it is the fact Galen Weston is the only real person people associate with the 5 retailers who control the vast majority of food retail. Industry people know the other players but I would be surprised if consumers could identify them.

Perhaps it is because Loblaw are the biggest but that does not mean they control the prices.

Suppliers need to watch this carefully. The performance of the horse you tie your cart to can make a big impact on your business. Interested to hear what you think.

SIAL-Next week!

I am excited to have the opportunity to attend SIAL next week in Montreal. it is always interesting to see new products and where our industry is going. If you are there let me know, it woudl be great to catch up!

Most of my time will be close to the companies from Atlantic Canada as I am there to support them and help them get the most out of thier investment to be at SIAL. Come and see us!