Of course, most entrepreneurial food and beverage companies would jump at the chance to introduce their brand at well-known retailers like Target, Kroger and Costco. However, it’s often in smaller and niche-focused retailers where early-stage companies are able to fine tune their sales efforts and brand proposition in preparation for wider distribution.
“One of the most important things for an early-stage company is to figure out how to get the product to move off the shelf,” said Bob Burke, the founder of Natural Products Consulting. “Cracking the proverbial code of what works in terms of optimal retail price, merchandising strategy, how to demo it, how to promote it, how to tell your story to the trade and consumer, is all something you want to get straight before you ramp up your distribution.”
Burke noted that because the specialty channel is, in particular, is “more forgiving and less expansive” to enter than other retail channels, entrepreneurs should consider it as a good place to launch a new brand or product.
In the following video series, filmed at the recently held Winter Fancy Food Show, we spoke further with Burke as well as several other attendees and exhibitors about the importance of the specialty/gourmet channel for early stage food and beverage companies, and how to manage an effective retail strategy within the channel.