The YF Community hosts a range of events for its members. Our most popular, ‘Lessons from Leaders’, is a series of fireside chats from retail leaders who provide brands with unique insights and expertise from the retailer landscape.
In our most recent event we heard from Michael Fletcher, CEO at Nisa Retail. Michael has 30+ years of experience in the F&B industry. He has held senior positions at Tesco, followed by the CMO of Co-op and then in 2022 becoming the CEO of Nisa – the wholesale part of the Co-op business. With years of experience, Michael has worked within every category of food buying across Ireland, the United Kingdom and Asia.
In this fireside chat, Michael shares the incoming cost-cutting measures at Nisa Retail to support consumers, and how these transformations will impact challenger brands, like yours, alongside insights on how to navigate the change.
For those of you that are not members of the YF Community – here are some of Michael’s top takeaways when approaching retailers and buyers.
To watch the recording of the session and hear many more insights – join the YF Community today.
Make sure you have a clear proposition
Ask yourself what is the ‘need state’ that you are addressing.
That is how we, as retailers, address every category within store. What is the need of the customer that we are fulfilling? Rather than following a well-trodden path, ask yourself what is innovative about your brand. Balanced alongside that, a gap in the market does not necessarily mean that there is a market in the gap.
The FMCG challenger brand sector is incredibly competitive. In order to succeed you really need to be aware of the architecture of the market and where you fit within it.
Think about the retailer
It is worth considering what the retailer you are approaching is trying to achieve and where your brand fits. Think about finding the link and lean on that as you approach the retailer.
At the Co-op, sustainability is at the heart, and therefore we are always interested in the environmental pledges of the brands that reach out to us. Always be sensible about the retailer you are approaching.
Think about dynamic ways to reach out to us; for example, could it be a video opposed to an email?
Being brave enough to show your face, your personality and the philosophy of the brand, is much more likely to make us sit up and listen. It is fantastic to get the chance to see consumers interacting with the product you are trying to pitch. A typical buyer manages between 60-80 current suppliers who are all engaged in existing conversations, their time is tight. It is always worth trying to find a way to create a personal connection with us.
Getting the listing is not the finish line
Do your best to not over promise. One of the critical KPIs of a buyer is availability. You will do far better if you ask to start smaller rather than saying yes and then not delivering.
It is catastrophic for relationships if you are unable to deliver on a promise. Your personal brand is really important both in terms of the job you are doing now and where you end up in the future. If your credibility is dampened, that will affect you in the long run.
Put your product on offer or at a discount
That is the best way to boost sales when you are at the beginning of your journey. Be brave at the start; you need to find a way to penetrate the consumer.
The best way you can build a relationship with a retailer is to understand your demographic and impart that knowledge onto the buyer. It will help all of us work more efficiently. That way you can work collaboratively with the buyer and help navigate the best stores for your product to sit. Always remain honest and transparent, the goal is for a healthy partnership to be built between you and the retailer.
Co-op’s focus on alleviating food waste…
There is £2 billion of food waste burnt every year alongside increasing poverty levels. Co-op are trying to redistribute waste to try and help alleviate poverty. Together with Hubbub and Microsoft, the Co-Op aim to redistribute surplus food from supermarkets, cafés and retailers’ with the launch of the Caboodle app.
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