Ever had a great idea for a product? Wonder why nobody has thought of it yet? The products that compete with your idea seem like they are off the mark, mediocre, and missing something yours provides. In fact, you haven’t seen anything like your brainchild on the market. You are sure your idea is totally new and unique.
All this pumps you up with a sense of confidence that once your product gets out there, folks will knock out windows and kick down doors, just to get to your new product. You focus on the features and benefits, the packaging, the pricing. Your friends all say they would buy it and that it’s going to be a slam dunk!
The Consumer’s View
Most new CPG product producers have a consumer-sided view of the marketplace. They believe that every product that has ever been produced is out there for sale in their local store. If it’s not on the shelf, it doesn’t exist, right? They give very little thought to how what is there, got there. Or even why some products seem to appear one day and disappear the next. But it’s all happening behind the shelf, out of the consumers’ view.
“But I don’t plan on selling in the retail store anyway! I want to avoid the middleman and sell direct to my consumer,” you might protest. Online sales seem like the answer. And if you can’t get into retail stores, you may have no choice! Anyone can sell online, so guess what? Everyone does! And it’s a race to the bottom price wise. Products sell primarily on price online, not necessarily on quality. How could they? There’s no tactile contact. There are no physical comparisons.
You will never get a big order from a 200-store chain online, just onesies and twosies. You will never get the kind of impulse or notion buy that happens when a retail customer, not shopping for your product, just stumbles upon a display of your goods.
Behind the Shelf
Before your product even gets on the shelf you must compete behind the shelf! Instead of a slam dunk, it could be just a slam! The fact is that a great product at a great price with a cute label, attractive package and compelling catch phrase, is not enough to make the dunk. For that you have to master what’s going on behind the shelf!
So now we are back to gaining access to retail stores, and, more importantly, staying in those stores. And that is the real challenge you face with a new product. We think it’s more important than the product itself. Why? Simply because they can’t buy it if it ain’t there!
They Buy What’s There
The corollary is that they will buy whatever is there, even the mediocre products you see everyday that can’t hold a candle to yours! So, there you have it. Maybe someone has come up with a product as good as yours. They just couldn’t access the market, or what’s worse, they did, but they couldn’t keep it there. Remember the retailer, and even the online retailer, really doesn’t care about your features and benefits. They care if it moves!
That’s why it’s not about getting in, its about staying in. And that can only be accomplished through lift. Lift means simply that your sales are better this month than they were last month (i.e. they are growing!). And lift can only be accomplished through the creation of demand within that particular store and within that particular store’s neighborhood. And this is why we recommend to our clients that they start small and discover what the cost of sales really are.
Building a following, takes time and concerted effort. If you hold a magnifying glass over the newspaper but move it all around, you will never get a fire. But if you hold it still and concentrate the suns rays in one spot, you will start a fire. Achieving lift is a bit like that.
Be a Hot Mover
It’s better to earn the reputation of being a “hot mover” in one or two stores than to have slow sales everywhere. Your reputation for being a slow mover or a non-starter will surely be spread by your competitors who will warn the buyers to whom you have yet to present. You don’t want your product to be one of those products that appear and then mysteriously disappear!
When it comes to building a CPG brand, don’t scale fast to fail fast. Rather, scale slow and don’t let go! Doesn’t your great idea deserve some special care in its infancy? Learn how to get your act together before you take your show on the road.