October 23, 2018

Over the past 30 years I've been fortunate to work with the most successful global food brands and food entrepreneurs. Yet one of the key challenges they all face is dealing with markets, questions of geography, and how to manage multiple markets or when to expand into new markets. Most of my clients have never considered geography an issue in their food enterprise. If you have a successful food brand and have not considered geography in your planning, here are three insights I would like to share with you in order to help you better manage multiple markets, utilize the magic in census data, and how to piggyback census regions in managing your sales regions and brokers. 
So, if you have not planned or considered how maps, geography, and census data play a role in your growth, here are my three quick insights!
Number one is dominate with value your home market. 
Get out a map and draw a circle with the center of the circle being your company location. The circle should extend an appropriate distance for your particular business. If you are currently a single market food business somewhere between 60 and 240 miles from your office on all sides might be right. (radius of 240 miles) It could be as small as a few blocks depending on population density. There are many food brand success stories that are 50 years or older in the USA and they have never sold outside of their home market. Don't take your show on the road until you have a solid business, raving fans, and big profits to secure your current position and empower entry into new markets. It's unbelievable the number of food entrepreneurs that desire flying cross-country in an attempt to gain new business when they are not selling big in their home market. Your revenue problem is not going to go away by adding a new market.  
Number two is utilize the census regions to organize your sales territories. It's simply following the already defined 4 basic regions of the USA: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Also, I have a document that is already organized and you can use for the smaller 9 sub-regions and then narrowed down to states in each region at this link https://goo.gl/qPNy8s  The benefit is much of the data and analysis is already arranged for your future use in these areas. 
Number three is take advantage of the free access and info available to you from census data at census.org. Population estimates are key to sales management and understanding success in your food business by market as you grow. Understanding population, allows you to better manage and reward success in regions, markets, and cities based on per capita consumption of your food products. It's easy to understand big customer purchases in the Northeast but how do you extrapolate success or a business case for other markets and regions? Census data will provide you this insight and quickly allow you to manage regions. 
Here are the specific results I'm seeking when using census data to review sales development by region, 
US Population for the region as a % of USA.
Region's Dollar Sales as a % of the brand's US market.
Region's Unit Sales as a % of the total brand's US market. 
Over the years I have observed that the most successful entrepreneurs and food organizations are leveraging these three geography concepts to create extraordinary food success that generates dramatic success for their business and powers their sales relationships.
Are you leveraging these geography concepts in order to dramatically impact and increase your business? If you have any questions on implementation or utilizing this data for your product and markets, send a note. I'm happy to have a conversation on ideas to grow your food business.  

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© Tim Forrest 2018. All rights reserved

October 18, 2018

Amazon’s Hollywood play on Whole Foods

Why is the Amazon purchase of Whole Foods different from other grocery retailer purchases? How does an online book and gadget seller take on the world of food?
It seems so simple when you look at the Amazon business model and it explains how they viewed the purchase of Whole Foods. Amazon will take on the grocery industry and restaurant business from a perspective of curating great food to their legions of Prime customers hooked to Prime delivery. It was a content purchase.
For many executives in the food world, their playing field of food retailing and restaurants are safe from the reaches of the internet and online users. Many have released online apps and pick-up ordering for their stores but they expect their real estate provides the protection necessary from online.
American consumers are entrenched with purchasing food in brick and mortar stores and restaurants. We purchase 98% of our groceries from retail stores and it will take another 4 years before the share of online reaches 4%* of all US groceries. For many retailers, this slow build is not showing in their numbers and will not be visible for many years to come and likely too late for many.
It’s been common place for venture funds and investors to purchase retailers for consolidation or market gains. The Whole Foods purchase was the first grocery store purchase designed to provide online content. It’s a Hollywood style buyout.
Disney, MGM, Universal, and Time Warner Studios have massive value tied up in their major studio libraries with close to 20,000 film titles. Whole Foods has more than double that number of products and Amazon wants them online. In addition to the products, they have developed proprietary standards and brands that have a strong following among Whole Foods customers and the likely future of healthier foods.
Whole Foods has set the standard for quality and health in food, body, and other household products as the world becomes more focused on health. Their focus on developing proprietary standards and developing exclusive relationships with vendors places them in a unique and far ranging position for the future of food.
Whole Foods developed their own brands around the 365 label along with high quality and standards focused in several areas: food ingredients, animal welfare and meat quality, sustainable seafood, body-care standards, non-toxic cleaning products, and cage-free eggs since 2004. They have set the exclusive standard for an entire industry. Many retailers and suppliers defer to the Whole Foods standard as the defacto rules of engagement with the natural customer that is becoming quickly mainstream.
Amazon recognized and purchased this intellectual property in the purchase of Whole Foods and desired full complete access to these products for marketing to their Prime Members. The Whole Foods concept will grow with future purchases by Prime Members without adding a single Whole Foods retail location.
If we visit the Whole Foods website we can see these changes taking place now. They are devoting about 20% of the Whole Foods retail website, and several pages even more, to touting the Prime advantage and shouting for customers to download the app that will include delivery.
Amazon has no interest in the grocery store business, their voracious appetite is to expand the purchase category and cart size of the Prime customer. “Alexa, bring me a gallon of 365 soy milk and a dozen eggs.”

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© Tim Forrest 2018. All rights reserved

October 10, 2018

PODCAST - Grow Your Food Business Now! Strategies for retail success with Alli Ball.


In this quick conversation, Alli shares her insights and tips on growing your food product with consumers and shoppers in retail locations. 

Alli Ball is the founder and principal of Allison Ball Consulting, helping food industry professionals succeed in launching & growing their businesses through her one-on-one consulting and online group course, Retail Ready.  Alli helps producers and simultaneously, Alli helps specialty stores increase their sales through consulting on product assortment, merchandising, and staff training & retention.

Working with both CPG and Retail clients is crucial in Alli’s consulting, as she understands the needs, expectations and challenges of each side of the food industry. In addition to growth strategy consulting, Alli helps food businesses across the board with their staff and management develop, both through 1:1 work, and through her online course, Staff Stuff.

Send a note on your thoughts and what did you find was most helpful in this podcast? Let me know your thoughts.

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© Tim Forrest 2019. All rights reserved

October 7, 2018

"Disaster!" What information are you seeing during a retail audit?

"Disaster!" I'm thinking as I'm surveying a department and my clients' product on the shelf. At the same time, he was beaming with pride and commenting on how beautiful it was to see his product in the store and on the shelf.
His reaction at first puzzled me and then I realized he was not processing or even realizing the data available during our store visit. He was checking to see if his product was in distribution and available for customers to purchase. I was looking at so much more.
Besides distribution, my process is to check inventory, shelving/category position, pricing, merchandising, competitive merchandising, and stock rotation. I'm hoping to better understand market conditions, problems and causes, store execution, and any competitive information that might be valuable to the brand.

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