Advice from a real Food Entrepreneur
Taste of Crete is a brand of Greek specialty foods and Greek prepared meals. I asked the founder Esther Luongo Psarakis, to give us advice on how she got to "yes" with the retailer buyer and addresses how to avoid "Deal Breakers" and the importance of a product's Suggested Retail Price (SRP).
According to Esther, "It is so important to know the right size for the retailer. When I first imported my Taste of Crete EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) they were packed 12 to a case. However with slotting and demos, I was giving away too much product and many smaller stores wanted just 6 per case so they could test the product more readily on the shelf, particularly with shelf stable products that may take longer to move. I changed the packaging to 6 per case and that improved sales."
Rather than jump right into the 10 Step Retail Buyer Pitch Get Ready!, we need to review some preliminary work to be done.
Eshter says "Overall you must exhibit and air of confidence in your product succeeding in the market. You must be positive, self confident and be able to fully address each of the 10 retail pitch elements in a manner that says "you know what you are talking about".
You Need More Than a Great Tasting Product
I tell every Foodpreneur Client you need to launch a product based on more than great taste to get on the shelf. Buyers look at many factors so let's explore critical elements and deal breakers. Advice from a woman food entrepreneur will focus on what you must address prior to entering the retail buyer's office with your PowerPoint sales presentation.
An Example of a Deal Breaker
A critical factor is understanding what the consumer needs AND also the needs of the retail buyer. It does not matter how well the product tastes if the Suggested Retail Price (SRP) is well beyond the price points the buyer sets for the category OR if your gross margin (GM%) falls below the category threshold.
According to Esther, "Seemingly innocuous product attributes can result in an unsuccessful retail buyer pitch." For example, let's say your product is a gluten free cake that you want to sell in the in-store bakery. You can't ship an individual cake so you have to create a master pack corrugated container to place the individual cake in. You decide that the most efficient size is 6 cakes per master shipper. Seems reasonable? How many cakes per week do you think can be sold at the retailer you are targeting? You say "well how am I supposed to know that?" Well, how about visiting a few stores and asking the bakery team leaders or managers? If the buyer knows his department only sells 2 cakes per week for the type of cake and the suggested retail price you are presenting, the buyer may reject the product because it will take 3 weeks to sell just one case. Is this making sense?