Insights | April 17, 2018

Shopping for a Winning Grocery List

Our grocery shopping experience today is changing.

Have you noticed that as you walk through the aisles, more and more food products are stamped with labels such as Non-GMO, Organic, Gluten Free, Whole Grains and even “Save the Bees”?

By Private: Ray Ho


Many shoppers, including myself, are no longer satisfied with simply checking off a shopping list to fill up our pantries and kitchens. We are looking for food products that bring not only fresh taste and great value, but also a message that can connect to our experiences, ethics and aspirations.

Whether it’s organic, local, plant-based diets or adaptogens, Ovo-Lacto vegetarianism or veganism, regenerative farming or social justice advocacy, the food in our grocery aisles speak to us in more ways than one, and retailers are paying attention to that.

While attending the 2018 Natural Product Food Expo in Anaheim, CA, I found myself surrounded by an ocean of over 80,000 participants and 3,000 exciting brands, products and labels competing for attention. To stand out in the surfeit of healthy food, snacks, drinks and supplements, many of these brands know they have to not just sell a product, but also create a unique “winning experience” for retailers and their customers.  Here are some standout examples:

So, what about your business? How are you branding your products? Are you wondering what it would take to cultivate a captivating brand experience so that you can win on the shelf?

Winning on the Shelf

Today, a strong, effective CPG brand is more than just big colourful ads or catchy taglines or beautiful packaging, even though these are vitally important components to develop a successful brand. A strong, effective brand is meaningful and connects with the emotional core of its buyer. It is relevant and relatable to its users and the world around them. It has enthusiastic supporters advocating for it, and ardent fans talking about it. The brands that can build these bridges successfully are often the ones that move forward.

If your business is looking to do that, here are 7 goals you should consider for your brand:

  1. Make it delicious. As they say, “taste is king,” so your products must taste great to your customers. It should have strong craveability and quality if your brand wants to have the edge over the competition.
  2. Make it unique and compelling. If you want people to understand your product and sample it, you must deliver it with a clear and uncluttered brand message to the right audience. We can’t be all things to everyone, neither should your product.
  3. Create a brand map. This is an essential but often overlooked piece for growth. It will help you clarify and solidify your vision, mission and road map as you develop your products, distribution and marketing plans.
  4. Create strong brand packaging to communicate the vision and promise you have for your audience (customers and retailers). Stand out, stand out, stand out! What you show and say on your packaging can be the deciding factor for someone choosing your product over another.
  5. Have a growth plan. Having a clear product innovation strategy is crucial to your future growth. Customers expect variety, so it will be your responsibility to hone in their attention when you offer them new and exciting tastes. To sustain growth in an omnichannel retail world, you will also need to create an integrated promotional plan that gives people easy access to try your products.
  6. Align your brand strategically with the right partners and retailers. This can be challenging (especially if you are a start-up) but aim to build win-win relationships with those who will distribute and advocate for your products. Conversely explore how your products can potentially help them meet their respective vision, needs and challenges.
  7. Finally, make your brand stand for something purposeful. Dig deep…find an authentic and realistic message that adds value to your brand. Think about how it will impact the consumer, the retailers, the community, the environment and importantly, the values and longevity of your business.

The retail shelf is a crowded and competitive space, but at the same time, not all products are created equal. If you are looking for that opportunity for your product to win, you must also ensure that others, such as your partners, retailers and your customers (especially your customers) win with you.


Want to stand out more on the shelf?