Updated: May 3
As fearless local foodpreneurs, you know that merely touting your beverage, baked good, confectionery or convenience food as '100% Bajan' won't guarantee it gets noticed, far less purchased, in the typical local supermarket.
Belts are tightening and food shoppers are becoming more budget-conscious. Predictably stocked shelves, tried and true national and imported brands, and ‘stay-awhile musak’ wafting through the aisles make it relatively easy and vaguely enjoyable for them to fill a shopping cart on autopilot. With this heavy dependence on predictability and familiarity how might your “hidden treasure” product break through and succeed at point-of-sale? Here are five critical ways to success.
Invest in bold, high appeal branding and sturdy packaging. The old adage ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ applies everywhere except the world of food retail. We eat with our eyes and research supports this. According to research published by the Marketing Science Institute (www.msi.org), when it comes to unplanned purchases, for every 10 seconds the average consumer visually considers a product at point-of-sale, its likelihood of purchase increases by 2%, and for every time she touches that product, its likelihood of purchase goes up 6.3% (Yanliu Huang, 2012).
Invest as much as commercially realistic in visual branding. A communications designer with product branding experience can help you design and apply your logo across all the touchpoints where retail consumers might experience your brand. These include packaging, delivery vehicles, team attire, signage and any other promotional tools you opt to use in-store.
When it comes to label design, make your brand logo its main element so it is recognisable from at least 10 feet away; the descriptive product name is secondary to this. Show visual appeal and freshness through transparent packaging or view-thru windows. If this is impractical, use a single full-colour ‘appeal shot’ or illustration of a serving suggestion to show how the product will ideally look ready to consume. Also consider using a stackable jar or box dissimilar from your competitors. Even if retailers grant you just one or two shelf-facings your well-designed package will stand out. For world-class package design inspiration, visit www.thedieline.com.
For labels, ‘legally compliant’ means ‘customer-friendly’. The more user-relevant product information you include on a product label, the longer a consumer is likely to handle it and the more likely he will purchase it. Most regional jurisdictions minimally require that food product labels include the product brand and name, contents by weight or volume in prescribed units of measure, ‘best by/before’ shelf-life date, storage temperature requirements, ‘country of origin’ and the manufacturer’s address and contact information. Retailers will also insist you incorporate a machine-readable UPC (universal product code) barcode graphic into your label design to track the product in their warehouse inventory management and point-of-sale (checkout) systems.
Health-conscious customers will also appreciate the inclusion of your product’s nutrition facts and preparation instructions if your product is not ready to consume right out of the package. Also include allergen disclaimers and highlight your product’s valuable nutritional, lifestyle and social benefits, for example, ‘gluten-free’, ‘vegan’, ‘100% recyclable’ and the like.
Make your product packaging ‘fit-for-purpose’. Package and seal your product securely enough to withstand the rigours of storage, transport, shelf-packing and handling well past its intended shelf life. If your product is not single-use, choose a resealable package style to maintain freshness after opening.
Start your brand experience before the shopping trip. Retail consumers spend an average of 12 seconds making a product selection decision (Peter R. Dickson, 1986). To get more facetime with consumers, establish a cost-effective and engaging presence on social media platforms they use.
Post regularly, especially close to weekends and paydays to pre-sell consumers on the unique nutritional and lifestyle benefits of your product. Use demographic targeting and keyword criteria when boosting posts to reach consumers of the ideal age, gender, lifestyle preference and geographic location for your product and earn new followers. Frequently plug the retail outlets where your product is available. Ease trial with meal or snack solution suggestions, always featuring photos of your packaged product to boost brand recognition at point-of-sale. Finally, remember to reply promptly to queries and comments.
Put your people skills to work. Most retailer managers welcome pre-scheduled in-store sampling, as it is an ideal way to prompt trial and sales of new products.
Choose high-traffic periods, for example, pay-day evenings or Saturday mornings to sample. Invest in a professional-looking sampling station that you can transport, assemble and pack up on your own and branded signage promoting your product and its key benefits. Ensure you have official health certification and follow relevant regulations on attire, sanitation and attire. Finally, ensure you have all the sample product, preparation tools and serveware needed to expertly prepare, serve and describe your products to passing shoppers.
Self-merchandise! Rather than relying on your retailers’ busy merchandise team, practice self-merchandising to mitigate slow in-house restocking, remove and replace damaged or close-dated products and correct missing shelf-pricing. You can also use merchandising visits to track competitive pricing, promotions, and stock movements and personally observe how your consumers behave at point-of-sale.
Following these simple steps will go a long way to securing those crucial early sales.
Peter R. Dickson, A. G. (1986). Point-of-Purchase Behavior and Price Perception of Supermarket Shoppers. Marketing Science Institute.
Yanliu Huang, S. K. (2012). Capturing the 'First Moment of Truth': Understanding Point-of-Purchase Drivers of Unplanned Consideration and Purchase. Marketing Science Institute.
Ann-Marie King is a seasoned brand strategist, communications designer and marketing professional passionate about bringing Barbados’ best culinary brands to the world’s table. Learn more about her work and career on linkedin.com/in/ann-mariekingbarbados
What burning Bajan foodpreneurship topic would you like Ann-Marie to tackle next? Send your suggestions to email@example.com