Q. Before launching into a new grocery retailer, brands should be doing this__________before they launch.
A. “You’ve got to study and understand the market – the retail landscape and determine where your product fits in.”
Obtaining data on your product category, as well as your target shopper (category snapshot reports and shopper research, like interviews and shop-alongs.)
Developing a strategic plan (to include competitive shelf price, consumer advertising, social media, etc.)
Realistic budget for marketing and promotional activities.
Determining where you’re best suited for your launch (i.e. West Coast or East Coast, specialty grocery vs. natural channel, etc.)
Narrowing down your target retail accounts & ensuring you have the proper funding to support each of them via discounts, demos & consumer education.
Q. When we use the phrase ‘understand the shopper,’ what does that really mean? What specifically should brands be studying to understand their retail customers’ shoppers?
A. “Who are the feet walking in the store, what are they looking for, and ultimately walking out with?”
Identifying the types of shoppers already primed to find your key claims of value.
Understand where shoppers learn about products in your category.
Identify what drives shoppers to purchase (price, format, quality, etc.) in the category you play in. This is called a “consumer decision tree.”
Learn how those products are used at home.
Q. Specialty food categories like olive oil (also wine, honey, cheese, etc.) can be overwhelming and confusing for consumers, unless they are experts. Do you have any examples of brands and/or retailers doing a good job of educating shoppers in stores or online?
A. Maria says that Cobram Estate (California & Australian olive oils) Gaea from Greece and BONO from Sicily, Italy, are excellent examples of marketing partners in that they work to educate consumers online and in stores.
Maria added that she had recently attended an education event at Cobram Estate’s office in Woodland, California for their retail partners and noted that programs to up level olive oil knowledge of retail partners is equally important to consumers as well.
Maria says there are some excellent olive oil experts around the world, like: Leandro Ravietti Techincal Director at Boundary Bend Australia, Dean Wilkinson, Head Panel Taster at the California Olive Oil Council, Dr. Mary Flynn from Brown University, Alexanda Diverini, Founder of The Extra Virgin Alliance and David Neuman, founder of the EVOO Guy. These are all professionals in the industry and great at helping educate key decision makers, consumers, and have also helped Maria over the past few years gain her olive oil knowledge.
One challenge Maria noted as it pertains to olive oil education is that “some retailers lack the infrastructure and time to properly educate themselves in order to help educate consumers in their stores,” and noted that categories like extra virgin olive oil and Manuka honey, are examples that should have more in-store education so shoppers can understand these products are unique and generally cost more.
Opportunity for brands to more closely collaborate with retailers to educate shoppers on premium categories, like olive oil, honey and wine.
“Consumers are more educated than they have been in the past, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement by both brands and retailers to educate consumers in premium categories."
— Maria Reyes of KeHE