Interview Transcript

What are the key mistakes founders make pitching new consumer brands to retailers?

You have to convince a retailer how you’re going to grow your category from where it is today. Retailers have 50 barbeque sauces on the shelf today. They’ve got another 200 trying to come into the store. You’re going to have to answer two questions to retailers: firstly, how you’re going to take your category from where it is today and grow it with your product. And secondly, how your product differentiates from the 50 you have on the shelf or the other 200 that’s going to come in here and tell you.

One of the biggest mistakes I see is that people aren’t experienced enough to talk to category managers. These people are worried about the category. They don’t care about much of anything else. How are you going to grow my category? Why should I put you on the shelf? I’ve already got five other sweet barbeque sauces. People walk in, they’ve got their bottle. That’s where the broker fails. They walk in, “Hey, I’ve got this barbeque sauce, they’re from New Jersey and it’s a sweet.” It’s going to fail. If you walk in there and you say, “I’ve got this barbeque sauce, it’s sweet, the spices we’ve put in it have come from Philippines or from Thailand or places like that.” Something exotic about it that’s different, it gets their attention and it’s going to get you the time you need to really put your product forward. If you don’t do that, you’re not going to be able to proceed with those category managers getting further, they have to understand how you’re going to grow it. If I take out Joe’s Barbeque sauce who’s turning two units a week and I put your barbeque sauce in and it turns two units a week, I’ll just leave Joe’s there.

You need to do the competitive homework ahead of time, and really understand who’s turning what into category. There’s data out there. You can get a one-time run from Neilson and it’s $10,000-15,000, but it’s critical to have.

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