Natural products, healthy living and "better for you products" will continue to be the hot new trend well into next year. Most every retailer is jumping on the bandwagon. The challenge is that not every retailer is fully committed to the strategy of developing this opportunity. The retailers that adopt a solid plan and commit to satisfying the natural consumer’s needs will position themselves to grow sustainable sales.
There are a lot of studies highlighting the explosive growth in natural/ healthier/“better for you” products while traditional grocery items are declining in many categories. The committed natural consumer wants a lot more than just a natural claim on a label. They want full transparency and to be able to pronounce all of the ingredients on the package. This is important to know as conventional retailers strive to understand and learn more about the natural consumer. These staunch advocates are leading the way in changing the industry and the food that we eat through initiatives and trends like Just Label It, Non-GMO, fair trade, whole grains and gluten free, among others.
Retailers need to understand these initiatives and how they came about to better know the committed natural consumer. They can provide valuable insights into what consumers think and want. Retailers that commit to fully addressing the needs of the natural consumer will gain a better share of this growing segment, especially as “non-natural” consumers embrace this initiative.
Strategies to grow natural sales
- Leverage your category management capabilities at retail. Manufacturers need to apply their product and consumer expertise to help support the retailers that sell their products. Both manufacturers and retailers need to form a cohesive collaborative relationship to help each other grow and remain competitive. This is done by adopting a category captain/category advisor role at retail. Retailers will value and appreciate a manufacturer’s/brand’s expertise and possibly reward them with better shelf placement and incremental promotion opportunities. The goal is to increase foot traffic at retail and to increase consumer shopping basket size.
- Adopt KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) which are micro-strategies that help build your brand consistently across all channels. These strategies include pricing, promotion, distribution, merchandising, etc. Your KPIs should measure your strategies against your competitor.
- Take an active role in helping your broker manage and grow your business. Develop scorecards to hold them accountable for your success and growth.
- Education: Commit to developing your category management, sales management and trade management teams by teaching them the best practices to help grow your business sustainably.
- Scorecarding: Develop a strategy to set measures and manage your goals in 2013. Scorecarding allows you to break goals into small manageable bite-size chunks.
- Adopt merchandising strategies that support your growth. Sometimes the best overall approach includes multiple strategies for different categories. Each one addresses a different need/goal whether it be turf defending, increasing foot traffic, image creating, etc.
- Know your customer. Natural consumers don't simply want to be sold. They are perhaps the most loyal consumers any retailer can hope to have. They are typically the most committed, best educated, (they read labels), most loyal and most dedicated shoppers in any channel.
Duplication is the most sincerest form of flattery. Adopt the best strategies used by leaders in our industry and improve on them. This will help you develop a sustainable competitive advantage and grow sales in 2013.