Looking to Break into the Irish Market?Simon Harkin
Breaking In: What influences Sales?
For companies looking to break into the Irish market, a good distributor is well-versed in the statistical characteristics of the local, regional and national population.
Market intelligence and knowledge of developing trends, as well as existing consumer preferences, are the hallmark of an experienced and well-networked retail distribution company.
A handle on demographics
Demographics should never be underestimated, as they are a major influence on how well your brand can perform in each area.
For example, if you wish to bring a healthy consumable to market, understanding the current market place will make the process more efficient.
What demographic would you aim a superfood product at; or perhaps a sports drink, and how many people fall into that demographic in each region?
Accurate information allows suppliers to effectively use their resources in meeting demand appropriate for the population, and their needs, in each location.
For instance, younger people may be focused on fitness and regularly purchase protein-based specialty products, while an older demographic have concerns around cardiac health and seek low fat options.
Local economics and social class will also impact the product success; brands that promote an aspirational lifestyle at a higher price point may succeed in one area, while value and affordability may drive volume sales in another.
Other factors to consider are immigration and returned travellers, which have broadened taste horizons, as well as longer commutes and working hours increasing demand for heathy convenience foods and ready meals.
A distributor familiar with the market can help suppliers cement their brand positioning in their category.
As new health statistics are reported, there are noticeable trends in consumption trends. Low sugar/low fat goods are on the increase, as are speciality products like Gluten-free and other ‘free-from’ products.
Demand for these can vary by area, so a savvy distributor will know what is likely to move off shelves quickly.
Heightened awareness of negative health impacts, alongside a national campaign to reduce childhood obesity, mean sugar substitutes and alternatives are more in demand.
Communities with a large population of school-going children will have a notable uptake on healthy snacks; alternatives to dairy and sugar and neatly or individually packed units that can fit easily in a child’s lunchbox.
Some food categories see heightened sales after heavy media coverage, such as ‘superfoods’ and products thought to improve natural weight loss. Your distribution partner should have an overview of the market in every area to optimise sales of your brand, meeting the needs of the consumer.
From the shopper’s standpoint there has been a blurring of lines between different types of outlet – say a supermarket vs a service station – as almost every type of retail outlet now provide a broad array of goods.
Products that may have previously only been found in a health shop may now be available in a dedicated aisle in multiple supermarket locations; freshly prepared healthy meals that were displayed in a delicatessen area may now be available at the service station shop.
As these distinctions between outlet types become fuzzier, a good distributor will be opportunistic about where your product and brand can be placed. They should have relationships with the decision maker in each location and be able to place your product in areas most beneficial to the brand.
The ebb and flow of trends; constantly updated information on local spending habits and regular contact with managers at store level allow your distributor to manage key factors in helping drive products sales.