How to get your product listed in a supermarket

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If you’ve recently launched a new product, particularly a food or drink product, the prospect of getting a supermarket to stock it can be a game-changer. After all, almost nine in ten Brits regularly buy from supermarkets, so having your product stocked in one (or several) can massively boost brand awareness and generate sales.

But with so much competition out there, it’s not easy for new brands to get a spot on a supermarket shelf. After all, they only stock a finite number of products and anything they do list needs to be commercially viable. However, the space isn’t exclusive to big brands. Supermarkets regularly work with small suppliers too, initially stocking them at a handful of stores to test customer reaction. 

With all that being said, there are certain things you can do to bolster the chances of being stocked in a supermarket, a few of which we’ve explored below.

Have a unique product

Having a unique product is key to the success of any brand, and equally so in getting it stocked at a supermarket. If the product doesn’t offer something different to competitor brands, there’s little chance the big name supermarkets will give it the time of day.

Rebecca Miller, Origination and Development Manager of Sainsbury’s Future Brands programme said: “Delivering distinctive and exclusive products and categories is a key part of the strategy at Sainsbury’s and this often comes in the form of new and small suppliers”.

One case in point is No. 1 Living’s Organic Ginger Kombucha drink that’s stocked in Sainsbury’s nationwide. The product is unique in that it’s authentically brewed, dairy and gluten free, 100% vegan and low in sugar. The brand itself is a small drinks producer launched in 2018 by former rugby star Johnny Wilkinson. 

Another example is The Saucy Fish Co. which has had its product stocked by Tescos since 2010 (aside from a brief de-listing in 2017). Selling fish marinated in unconventional sauces like Asian BBQ and cheddar and chive, the brand’s products are undeniably distinctive and gives customers the opportunities to sample new flavour combinations.

Do your research

Each of the UK’s supermarket chains are unique with different business models and target customer bases, aspects that influence the type and amount of products they sell. For example, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland are generally cheaper than their competitors, but also stock a lower variety of products. While supermarkets such as Waitrose and Sainsbury’s sell more premium products, and the likes of Tesco and Morrison’s stock the highest variety of goods. 

Consequently, your own product may be perfectly suited to one supermarket but not another, either because it only works for a particular type of customer or because certain supermarkets don’t stock many independent brands. We recommend scouring the shelves of different stores and seeing whether you think your product would fit in or not.

Be persistent but realistic

As is the case in any walk of life, it’s important to remember that it’s not impossible to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’. Just because a supermarket isn’t currently interested in your product doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. After all, trends and buying habits change, and what isn’t so hot now might be all the rage in a few months or years. Just think how popular meat-free meat products have become in recent times as society’s eating habits evolve.  

However, it’s important to be realistic too. Getting listed by a supermarket can take a long time, and you shouldn’t base your business model on this happening. Expecting it to happen quickly could leave you short of cash and damage your long-term prospects. By the same token, ensure you are ready if a supermarket does accept your proposal — namely that you have the capabilities to successfully deliver enough products, as well as meet requirements involving in-store demos, point-of-sale displays, advertising and publicity.

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