5 Key Considerations for Successful Product MarketingSimon Harkin
5 Key Considerations for Successful Product Marketing
1. Product Quality
Label-checking is now the norm as informed consumers want to know what they are getting. People are increasingly aware of the health implications of what they consume, and brands that don’t meet standards of a fussier market will simply be left behind.
Every ingredient, particularly for speciality products purporting to be beneficial to well-being, must be traceable and have a proven provenance. Potential allergens must be identified and specific terminology used (as opposed to ‘catch-all’ terms that are vague).
Nutritional information must be accurate and certain details are mandatory for labelling in Ireland.
People will only pay a premium for a speciality product if they are certain of high quality ingredients, and feel the company spent resources on research and development. The perception of quality is a key factor in a market with so much competition within categories.
2. Identifiable USP
A unique selling point (or ‘proposition’) is defined as the reason that one product is different from and better than that of the competition.
Being able to define your USP is important, as it must make a convincing case to a number of audiences. A distributor must know they can get a retailer to stock your product. A retailer needs to know your product will be appealing to the people who shop in his store, and the consumer needs to be convinced by the appearance, packaging, placement and pricing of your brand to put it in their basket.
What is it that sets your brand apart; what do you stand for? In the speciality product business, most manufacturers started their business because they felt strongly about creating a product to meet a need.
It can be a challenge initially to light upon the USP that will work; there’s a tendency to try to be known for doing everything at once, like declaring your product is the best value and top quality; organic and handmade etc.
Those characteristics may well be true of your product but pushing them all at the same time and trying to be all things to all people dilutes the message. This weakens your brand. You can’t stand for everything so you must choose one clear message that retailers and consumers can hear loud and clear.
An experienced retail distributor will liaise with stores to find out what works on the shop floor. Some marketing ideas may work in theory but lose strength when the product is placed, so may need a physical or marketing repositioning.
This USP is valuable at all levels of sales, as it fills an easily identified gap for the retailer (i.e. a high-protein, low sugar snack bar or an organic peanut butter) and for the consumer looking for reassurance.
Pricing strategies must be negotiated, taking into consideration the cost to the end user and the cost of manufacturing, allowing for all stages in between.
As a general rule, products make money for the supplier by being priced low and selling a lot, or being premium priced and selling in lesser volume for a larger margin.
However there are many different ways to approach the market depending on the nature of your product; where you plan on retailing it and how you are going to promote it. Using a distributor is an invaluable way to gain access to the market and benefit from the distributor’s informed overview of the competition so you can structure your pricing accordingly.
Bear in mind that different retailers have various parameters they work within; discounters obviously seek to offer product at low prices; independent specialty shops may prefer exclusivity and a premium type offering; multiples may have similar products that compete on price but cater to different tastes etc.
4. Distribution and availability
Retailers are offered far more products than they have shelf space for. Any decision they make on allocation of precious space has to be a calculated one and they are inundated with manufacturers / suppliers requesting listings for their stores.
Partnering with a distributor is an advantage in getting your product onto shelves; to monitor success; evaluate future stock levels and handle warehousing and logistics. It can also simplify administrative work; order processing and make you aware of promotional tools cost-effective for your brand.
Choosing a distributor who has Principles with multiple stores is a given; but don’t forget the possibilities within convenience shops, service stations, and independent retailers.
Shoppers loyal to your product will hunt it out, always filling up at the same petrol station if it stocks your protein bar. Consumers are creatures of habit, which can work for you or against you. A new product has to work extra hard to shift a customer’s regular purchasing regime, but once brand loyalty is established and maintained they’ll look for your brand.
Promotional tools include advertising but also in-store offers; tastings and demonstrations, BOGOFs, etc. You’re competing for attention, and to satisfy a need the shopper has.
In many cases your product may actually make the shopper aware of a need they didn’t realise they had. This is true of many speciality products, particularly those that aid a healthy lifestyle.
A sales and marketing plan to motivate new customers and build brand awareness should also create repurchase (and reorders). The brand must resonate with consumers to gain loyalty and repeat buying.
In-Store Marketing is critical – how you price, position and promote the product. Suppliers need to think about:
Offering incentives to motivate distributors, retailers and consumers to buy your brand.
Educating consumers to clearly see how your product can meet their needs.
Securing strategic floor, shelf or fridge space – and cost effective impulse purchase locations to boost sales.
Creative sales promotions to reward, incentivise and entertain your customers