Marketing a new brand: How we turn store listings into sales

Cuckoo Bircher muesli’s Anna Mackenzie had to learn how to market a food brand on the fly. Follow these hard-won lessons so you don’t have to…

Childhood friends Anna Mackenzie and Lucy Wright launched breakfast cereal brand Cuckoo Bircher muesli in 2013 and Anna’s been sharing the lessons of their growth story.

This month she shares how Cuckoo has turned stockist listings into sales with personal touch marketing.

Following on from my piece on what we’ve learnt about shelf-life considerations for a new food product, I want to look at what has surprised us marketing our products and brand, and what we’ve learned on the topic.

One thing’s for sure, the hard work starts when you get your product on a shelf.

It’s a given that in order for your products to sell you need to have a great and solid product concept, but no matter how good your product proposition is (and how much belief and passion you have behind it), your products are not going to fly off the shelf on their own from the get go. You need to think beyond the final product and getting them to market, and also think about how you’re going to support them once you’ve got the products out there.

You should think about:

  • How and what you might have at your disposal to educate people
  • How you’re going to get people to try the products and incentivise them to buy it
  • And once they’re aware and have tried it, what you are going to do to really make them love your brand to begin building a loyal consumer base.

With each shelf you get your products on, it’s fundamental to consider how you’re going to ‘activate’ that listing. The key initially is always to get people tasting the products because again, even with the best products and even if people love them once they taste them, they may not know the products are there, or find it too risky to buy a product they’ve never heard of. You need to have these plans in place of how you’re going to get products off the shelf once you get them on there (and these plans will help you sell in to customers and get the listings as well).

What surprised us a lot is the attention required in store from the moment you launch on to a shelf; ensuring basic aspects in store after launch such as:

  • Has the product actually been put out on the shelf?
  • With the correct price tags?
  • Where it is on the shelf (is there potential to have it moved somewhere more prominent)?

These are things that as the supplier it hadn’t crossed our mind that we should do. It’s also an opportunity to meet managers of stores, introduce them to your products and get them on board. The importance of visiting the stores is an ongoing part of the account management and process.

We’ve learnt the importance of being very focused when launching and growing a brand, even to the extent of being geographically focused. If you’re launching in London for example, focus your resources just in London, and even on a more micro level, on carrying our marketing in certain areas around your listings one at a time to build that loyal consumer base.

It’s an ongoing challenge and a chicken and egg situation trying to find the happy medium between marketing and sales. On the one hand you don’t want to focus all of your efforts on marketing if you’re not on a sufficient number of shelves. On the other, without having the marketing focus to activate your listings and grow the brand you’re not going to see your sales rise.

It’s all a balancing act, but while you’re developing your range and putting all your efforts in to getting to that final product, it’s good to be thinking of what you’ll do to get it flying once you’ve got it.

You can follow Cuckoo Bircher on Twitter or find out more about Anna, Lucy and their muesli on their website: cuckoofoods.co.uk

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