While the journey from product development to on-shelf success can be long and arduous, having a product ranged in supermarkets can be an exciting and rewarding achievement. Whether you’re a start-up looking to launch a new product in an established category, or an existing brand expanding its current range, there’s a lot to consider before securing that lucrative spot on supermarket shelves.  

You may have ticked all the boxes in terms of preparing a business plan, undertaking research and development, identifying new manufacturing technologies and putting the legalities and formalities in place, but are you ready to get your product onto the supermarket shelves?

Here are some words of wisdom for those considering launching a new FMCG product into the Australian grocery sector.

Category benchmarking

While a significant amount of research, planning and development is likely to have already taken place, when launching a new FMCG product in a competitive market environment, understanding the broader product category is critical. 

Have you researched the latest product ranging trends and built a rationale around how the product will respond to current shopper behaviour? Have you looked at what’s emerging in the category both locally and globally?

Identifying overseas trends can help to anticipate any category innovations from competing brands and what their manufacturing capabilities may be. Understanding and benchmarking the product against its category will help to build a compelling case to retail decision makers, clearly highlighting why your product should be on range and identifying the product’s sales potential.

Collaborating with the retailer

Approaching the supermarket directly with a product idea in the early phase of development can be a smart move. While you may think the product is new and innovative, the retailer may have other ideas which can help you to build a mutually beneficial offering.

Exclusive product offerings are the holy grail for retailers, but management also needs to understand how the numbers stack up. This can involve trialling the product in specific stores or regions or undertaking broader market research to validate consumer demand before rolling the product out nationally. Just make sure before engaging a third party that agreements are in place regarding any proprietary technology and patents. 

The right pricing

Bringing a new product innovation into an existing category can be an exciting prospect. Understanding how the product serves its category and meeting a consumer’s pricing expectations can be a delicate balancing act. Whether the objective is to drive category growth or satisfy a specific customer need, the pricing strategy can make or break a product and deserves critical thought.

With an estimated 80 per cent of new product developments failing soon after hitting the shelves, it can be a tough market for new entrants to get a foot in the door of major retailers and pricing is critical. 

Meeting on-shelf demand

After a supermarket has agreed to range your product, the hard work begins. One of the biggest mistakes in the life of any new product is its inability to keep pace with demand. While getting ranged is tough, staying on shelf is even tougher.

A successful new product into a national retailer must be able to scale up quickly and keep the shelves stocked nationally. An empty shelf will leave both customers and the retailer disappointed and risks being delisted as quickly as it was ranged. If the product is manufactured overseas, the pre-planning phase must consider shipping logistics as well as how quickly the factory can meet its manufacturing commitments.

In addition to scaling up manufacturing, engaging a sales agency like CROSSMARK, with a national footprint, is also equally important to ensure the products can be consistently fulfilled on-shelf across the country.

Maintaining momentum

New products run the risk of being perceived as a ‘passing trend’ so it’s important to maintain sales through store level marketing strategies. While traditional advertising can be out of reach for some businesses, many retailers will expect brands to invest in sales driven marketing strategies.

Implementing strategically timed in-store promotions or targeted off location merchandising activities with a field activation agency can be a smart way to maintain brand awareness and boost consumer engagement in-store.

Andrew Bosco is director of client service – grocery for CROSSMARK Asia Pacific.