As you are preparing for your meetings with buyers, brush up on your competitive intelligence. It’s important to be able to speak to your brands’ differentiators over competing products and how it is positioned within a channel.
Before you start competitive research, make sure you know all of the features and benefits of your product(s). Next, study up on your competitors and the various retail channels you think are a fit. The more you know about your competition and how your brand stacks up against theirs, the better you’ll be able to make your case for why you should be on the shelf next to or instead of them.
- Who has a similar or identical product – both from the buyer and consumer perspectives?
- Who makes an alternative product?
- What channels are their products sold in?
- What channels would not be a good fit for your product?
- What channels is your brand performing the best in?
- What channels present the best opportunity for growth?
- Why does a retailer need to add your product?
Be realistic about hurdles you may have to overcome to grow your business. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and points of differentiation of your product and your competitors’ is crucial to mapping out your plan for growth.
Finally, be knowledgeable of those channels you are competing in or trying to enter. Understand the retailers who currently carry your item and what is or isn’t working in those stores. Be prepared to talk to those buyers that have reviewed your product and decided not to carry it to understand why. You can determine how you need to adjust your approach to increase your chances of gaining distribution at that retailer. You also want to re-familiarize yourself with retailers that you’ve presented to who are still reviewing your item. Follow up with them to provide updates based on any changes that may have occurred in your or their business, and to keep your brand and product(s) top of mind.
Competitive intelligence and careful preparation will put you in a position of being able to best represent your product, whatever the competitive environment is.