Product Discovery and Creation-Its Just Not Enough

This  article was written partially out of frustration based on my observations in the industry but, the primarily reason for the paper is education. Education for the manufacturer, formulator, or company with a product or products requiring successful launch and market expansion. It is also written for the benefit of the retailer or distributor wanting to understand how to qualify and add valuable products to their portfolio to meet the requirements and expectations of their customers.
The truth is, regardless of market sector or product type, discovery, development and production of a product is only the first step to success. The successful launch of a new product in any market at any level requires a comprehensive launch program to create brand recognition and awareness at the consumer level. Success is only found when the product moves off the shelf at every level of the distribution chain.

Fundamentals are:
1. Establish Your Goal – One Goal supported by Objectives, reinforced by Strategies and made achievable through executable Tactics
2. Package Your Product – Your packaging is your interaction with the consumer, make sure it both attracts and educates.
3. Merchandize – Make sure your product attracts consumer attention while sitting on the shelf.
4. Support Your Retailer - provide a foundation of brand recognition, brand awareness and demand generation.
As a “service” provider we interact at every level; regulatory approval, distribution, wholesale and retail. Over the years we have developed a four stage strategy for the succesful launch of new products or the re-launch of existing products. Those stages include;
 I Can Sell (regulatory approval)
 On The Shelf (distribution and retail)
 Off the Shelf (creating consumer demand)
 Growth (expansion to new markets).

Far too often creators and manufacturers of new products take the attitude that the quality of their product is all they need for success. They appoint distributors and wholesalers and sit back and wait for sales. With no marketing support, brand recognition campaigns or consumer awareness programs the product simply sits on the shelf and no one in the launch chain is happy. Soon the product is being fire sold and disappears from the market. Time and time again I have witnessed truly spectacular products simply vanish from the market.
The straight-up truth is that it takes time, work, brand recognition, a cooperative effort by all parties, reseller training and consumer awareness programs to move product off the shelf. It is about meeting the distributor and retail requirements, selling the amount of product they request without demanding large inventory and supporting the sell with off the shelf support.
Reality is, a distributor, wholesaler or retailer it is likely to take a good product over an outstanding product if the support exists more with the good product and the company has a documented program to create brand recognition. The buyers “job” is to move inventory and satisfy consumer demand. If that is not happening then the buyer or distributor will simply move on. This is where short lived relationships are far too often experienced and leave bad feelings all around. It is essential to remember that distributors build strong wholesaler relations by providing products that move and the same is true with the wholesaler retailer relationship. Too many product producers do not uderstand this dynamic. In a sentence, and very bluntly “on the shelf is meaningless, off the shelf is meaningful.”
Successful product producers understand this dynamic and come to market with a comprehensive program to move their product through the entire channel to the consumer. Short lived relationships occur when listing is secured and inventory does not turn, there is little brand recognition, or programs are not established for all audiences to easily move product. To secure a distributor or retailer as a successful long term partner you must package both your products and programs to ensure brand recognition and consumer awareness.
Consumer awareness should highlight efficacy, why you are different and why outcomes are noticeable (visible, by touch or recognizable physical changes). Resellers (distributors, wholesalers and retailers) should clearly understand what you, as a company, do to ensure your message gets to the consumer and product moves off the shelf.
As a producer or supplier of “effective products and services” it is imperative to educate and support. Distributors, wholesalers and retailers carrying multiple SKU’s need to know with a “new line” that there is a program to drive brand recognition and consumer demand. They also want to know that there is a simple and effective way to train sales staff at every level to effectively communicate the benefits of the product.

These programs and procedures need to be in place prior to recruiting distributors and retailer partners. They should be easily adaptable to the re-seller’s customer and made availableconsistently on a weekly or bi weekly basis. They should always include educational material, regular email communication, sales incentives, sales education and new launches, innovations and trends.
Already have all of this in place? The final step for securing distributor and retailer partners is to make their life simple. Simple ordering and merchandising plans, marketing support, social media and press releases, education at every level is required. There is a constant requirement for demand generation, brand recognition and brand awareness. Provide this in a simple easy to execute format and you will build partners for life.
Being effective, natural, scientifically driven, or the hottest technology on the market is not enough. Innovation, education and support are the keys to success. Prove you can move your products off the shelf and drive inventory turns and you win. Remember that the success of everyone in the distribution channel depends on the product moving off the shelf into the consumers hands. Acknowledge your reponsibility in this process and deliver a comprehensive program to ensure consumer demand. That’s how you set yourself apart in today’s competetive consumer marketplace.
Written by Christine Pemberton who, with her team, provides valuable support to customers in the supply chain, manufacturers, those discoverers, and retailers as well as distributors.
Maia Launch, Maia International and Maia Retail – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.