Getting your Product to Market in IrelandSimon Harkin
Getting your Product to Market in Ireland
The Irish grocery retail market has a value of over €9 billion and is made up of a mixture of channels.
As well as the ‘direct to consumer’ channels like farmers’ markets or online selling, the major opportunities for sales growth are found in the major multiple supermarket groups and convenience retailers. Depending on the nature of your product, you may be suitable for sales within some specialist independent stores, or perhaps discounters.
Advantage of Distributor for SME Suppliers
For small and medium sized- suppliers, particularly those who make artisanal, niche or speciality products, finding the right distribution partner to help get you into stores is crucial.
No matter how wonderful your product is, or how eye-catching your branding, unless you can get decent sales volume it will remain an interesting but expensive hobby.
You need as many opportunities to get your product on front of the consumer, where they can see it on the shelf, as possible.
A great distribution partner does much more than just establish an intelligent path to market for your product. All businesses – especially smaller food producers – need to grow, because only volume will allow you to be profitable and ultimately be viable.
Shifting small amounts of product to stand-alone stores where you have built a relationship is a great start, but the golden ticket for most supermarket suppliers is to secure a ‘listing’ for one of the multiples. This is easier said than done!
Securing a Listing is only First Step
Firstly, it is extremely difficult to get in front of a busy buyer for any of the multiples, as they are inundated with product offers and suppliers seeking exactly what you seek.
Even if you do get a central retail listing (you go on the ‘list’ or products available to any of the stores in the multiples’ chain it doesn’t mean you can start planning that Caribbean vacation- the Irish grocery market is ferociously competitive, and just being ‘listed’ or ‘available to’ stores within the multiple doesn’t guarantee anything.
It just means you’re listed for all the stores who may wish to order your product, but the reality is that unless each store know about your product, or are aware of a demand in their market that it can meet, it’s rather unlikely you’ll get any orders at all.
Even if they do order a few, chances are that without support your product may well end up sitting in the store room or back fridges, where they may never see the light of the aisle.
Total Brand Solutions champion your product to increase sales
As your distribution partner, Total Brand Solutions take most of the hard slog away so you can focus on innovation and manufacturing.
As TBS has a vast network comprised of all decision-makers within the Irish multiples, as well as key Independent stores and pharmacies, they already have all the connections. More importantly, they have the established relationships and won’t bring something to a buyer unless they know that product will work for the retailer.
TBS are trusted, so have credibility within the retail sector. If they champion your product, you’ll be in stores.
The second tranche of work to be tackled when selling your product is marketing it. People won’t buy what they can’t see, so if you don’t have a distributor partner you’re looking at long days trying to visit stores; woo managers, conduct tastings or trials with customers and generally try to get visibility for your brand.
TBS will help market your product so you don’t have to put in the mileage. They visit multiple locations with a team on the ground all the time; fight your corner for shelf space and work with retailers promotional calendars to present you with in-store opportunities that are cost-effective for your business.
You can focus on building your brand throughout developing a wider audience using social media; work to increase the scale of your business if needed to meet demand, and generally do what you’re good at doing.