The natural products industry has enjoyed significant growth from being in the global spotlight. The signs are everywhere. You can't turn on the TV, listen to the radio or read a blog or newspaper without somebody touting the benefits of organic. Combined with staunch advocacy and awareness for purer/healthier "better-for-you" product alternatives, organic is now the center of national conversations.
What's next is for the natural products industry to take a leadership role in its own growth and development. You've probably heard the phrase, "Lead, follow or get out of the way." Our industry can no longer afford to be pulled into the mainstream.
Traditional CPG companies should not have the largest voice in marketing and merchandising natural and organic products. Smaller companies may have fewer resources at hand, but they can still take steps to participate in the discussion, if not lead it.
What will it take for organic growth in 2013?
Develop strategic partnerships
Natural retailers and manufacturers need to work together to support each other. Natural manufacturers need to become experts in their categories and help educate retailers on how to best sell, distribute and merchandise those categories.
Together they need to identify strategic solutions to increase foot traffic and shopping basket size. Customers shouldn't be forced to shop multiple retailers to buy natural products. Consumers need to know and believe that the best place to buy these products is at their local natural retailers.
To accomplish this, natural retailers and manufacturers must eliminate out-of-stocks, improve inefficient distribution and merchandising practices, eliminate inefficient trade spending and drive foot traffic into stores. They must develop sustainable solutions that address consumer needs and give them a compelling reason to shop natural retailers.
Retailers need to offer the right assortment that includes some of the top selling items in addition to the niche items that they offer to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Out-of-stocks, the wrong assortment and poor merchandising translate into thousands of dollars in lost sales. Customers rarely give a retailer a second chance to disappoint them.
Retailers and manufacturers need to work together to reduce costs, reduce inventory and drive down the price at shelf. They should also work together to maximize promotional efforts. One key is to develop strategies that draw customers into your store by aggressively promoting top selling items in the market. Your promotional strategy communicates your commitment to supporting your customers (best selection, lowest cost, exceptional customer service, etc.). Promoting complimentary items or cross promoting increases foot traffic while lowering cost.
Collaborating with market leaders
Retailers and manufacturers must collaborate to capitalize on the available resources to maximize their efforts. This includes any data source, both internal and external, that can be used to more efficiently and strategically reduce costs and maximize sales. Understanding sales trends and consumer takeaway to ensure inventory levels capable of supporting promotions at every store within a chain is critical. The top manufacturers should be able to help the retailer develop and maintain a competitive advantage.
What strategies are you using to grow sales?