by Matt Weik
Do you think it’s a good idea to sell your products everywhere? Maybe? Maybe not? Here’s the thing about business… it’s always changing and what works for most may not work for you. Most people will tell you to go get your product into a distributors hands and push it out to every retailer you can – c-store, specialty, food, drug, mass, etc. I’m actually going to tell you to NOT sell your products everywhere and go against the grain and the norm.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Matt, you’re an idiot. Sell your product to everyone who wants it.” Cool, you can do that but hear me out first. There are some instances where selling to everyone could actually dilute your brand in retail.
And for the record, going the route of selling through a distributor gets you put in the mix with thousands of other products they are trying to sell. AKA, they won’t even mention your brand unless you’re one of the big brands or you spend a ton of money to incentivize their sales reps or spend thousands on promotions.
Support Those Who Support You
When you start a business, things can be hard – I’m not going to lie. You’re going to struggle to find retailers who will give you a chance, especially if you don’t have a name in the industry. You’re going to need to build trust and your reputation in the industry. As you go from retailer to retailer trying to sell your products in a given location, it would be wise to think about who would support you and who actually believes in your brand.
Here’s where my ideology is different from other people. The people who bring you in and put your products on their shelves when you’re a nobody, support the hell out of them. In fact, make sure that they feel your appreciation by not selling to the store down the street who told you that your brand is too new, it’s not established, etc. Support those who support you. You don’t have to sell your products everywhere.
There will be people calling you up after you start showing growth who want to put you in their store. They were the same people who didn’t believe in you from the very beginning and weren’t willing to give you an opportunity to prove yourself on their shelves. You don’t need to support them. And it would further build your rapport with the surrounding locations by not selling your products to that location.
And unless you have MAP (minimum advertised price) pricing, selling to retailers who are an arm’s reach away will only create a pricing war to see who is willing to work off of the lowest margins to sell your products. In the end, your brand looks like a “low-quality brand” and one retailer ends up sitting on your products because they don’t want to compete with the guy up the street.
Again, this is a completely different way of thinking about how to do business but sometimes you need to think outside the box. And in this case, maybe creating scarcity with your brand will help push your brand into growth. Again, having the ability to not sell your products everywhere can create a demand because not everyone has it. Think about when brands have exclusives. You MUST go to that (those) location(s) in order to get a product or brand.
When you create scarcity, pricing no longer becomes an issue because you don’t have every corner store fighting over pricing to attract customers. You’re able to have your retailers make their margins without worrying what Joe down the street is selling it for. I’m of the mindset that the less stress your brand can put on a retailer the better. You don’t want to make your retailer have to sell your brand. You want people walking in the door asking about it. And if you’re easy to work with and have a great product, retailers will love you.
If there’s a scarcity of your brand or products, it helps create urgency. You want to evoke a sense of emotion from your consumers that drives them into the locations you partner with to purchase your brand.
Devaluing Your Brand
This is one of the biggest reasons to not sell your products everywhere. Why would you want to spend so much time, money, and effort building a brand just to lower its perceived value? What I mean by this is, if you’re selling to a specialty channel such as gyms and supplement stores, putting your products in Wal-Mart (which in itself, is not an easy task) would be a bad play.
Why is this? It’s simple. What do you think about when you see a Wal-Mart location? You think of low prices with “eh” value. Right? Now, I’m not saying everything in Wal-Mart is not high quality, heck, Apple sells products in there, Sony sells products in there, PlayStation, Xbox, etc. are all in there. However, it’s the perceived low quality that we have been accustomed to expect from Wal-Mart. Essentially, you get what you pay for. Makes me think of the “buy once cry once” mentality that when you buy quality you only need to buy it once (at a high price) but if you buy low quality you’re going to end up spending more money to replace it or buy something later of higher quality.
You can say the same thing about wholesalers such as Sam’s Club and BJ’s. We all shop at wholesalers for what purpose? To save money, no? Well, wholesalers generally purchase items in bulk, get a crazy deal on it, and then flip it to make a small profit. I look at wholesalers in a similar fashion as I do places like Wal-Mart. They are going to sell your products at a crazy low price and will make you look like an entry-level brand or someone who is trying to liquidate inventory because they’re hurting for money or going out of business. You don’t want that.
Here’s a quick story for you as I have a personal example. I worked for a large supplement company before starting Weik Fitness. I walked into a (not so well known) wholesaler that is local to me. While there, I decided to check out what supplements they were selling (not to purchase, I just like to see what brands are committing brand suicide). My jaw hit the floor when I saw one of the top-selling RTD beverages from my old company sitting on the shelf. This is a legacy supplement manufacturer selling what was normally a $3 bottle of pre-workout for only $1. And they had CASES upon CASES of the product. AND, it was in their best-selling flavor in gyms!
In that instance, I immediately thought less of the brand – what were they thinking?! I just look at brands with a sense of prestige when they are selling in certain locations and on the flip side think less of brands when I see them, in a sense, being “whored out.” I know I’m not alone in my thinking on that and its for the reasons I mentioned throughout this article that I don’t feel you should sell your products everywhere.
Again, my thinking goes against everything most people would recommend. I’ve just seen and experienced things firsthand when you decide to sell your products everywhere. It becomes a nightmare for the retailer, the brand is constantly putting out fires from retailers calling about someone getting better pricing down the street, how can they sell the product for $5 cheaper than my location, and in the end, you’re left with retailers who aren’t happy with you or your brand. Therefore, give what I’m saying some consideration. Don’t sell your products everywhere. Be picky with who you work with and what locations you want your product on their shelves.