Growing grocery store sales of your food product

Greg Morano shares his success story of growing his food sales. Find out how he uses placement, relationship, pricing and demos to increase sales.

Congratulations, a local grocery store buyer has just accepted your food product and soon you’ll be seeing it on their shelves. What is the next step? In an interview with Greg Morano, a successful client of the MSU Product Center and owner of Morano Pasta Sauces, he provided the following insight on what worked for him as he has grown his sales.

It is important to develop a relationship with both the store manager and the person in charge of the specific aisle your product is in. Provide store personnel with a complimentary package of your product and if they like it, they may be more likely to recommend it to their customers. If the store does not have a planogram that guides customers to where certain products are located, your relationship with the aisle clerk will help you get a better position on the shelf. Schedule visits to the store once a month to maintain those relationships. Ask the manager to place your product in other areas such as end caps, meat counters or, if your product is gluten free, ask to have it placed in that section as well. Most stores will allow you to display a shelf talker that gives more information on the quality of your product. If you use this tool, and you should, produce one that differentiates your product from others in its category.

Once it is on the shelf, you may be wondering how to get people to buy your product if they aren't familiar with it? One method is price breaks. Ask the manager if they will partner with you on the cost of a temporary price reduction. Schedule that price break every other month to build a customer base. Many shoppers look for sale items first so this is one way to get them to choose your product.

Greg has found in-store presentations to be the most effective way to introduce his product to shoppers. It is necessary to check first with the store manager to make sure they approve of in-store demonstrations. Many shoppers have misgivings about purchasing a new product for fear that they will not like it, however a sampling demo eliminates that apprehension. Consider offering a price reduction the day of the demo to entice them to buy on the spot. Always demo immediately after placing your product in a new store and, if you find that your sales vary by season, schedule sampling demos more heavily during those peak times of year. 

Do not be too anxious about getting your product in multiple stores right away. It is best to "walk before you run" when placing your product in stores. Stick to your projected margins and choose stores that share similar ideas about product price. If you have a quality product and demo it heavily, the word will spread and other stores will eventually be the ones calling you and asking for your product.

The MSU Product Center, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, provides business counseling for product development and marketing strategies that will help Michigan entrepreneurs commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive food products. For more information, visit the MSU Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

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