I guess you can say gr8nola's made its debut in retail (aka grocery stores)! I know, I feel like a real flip-flopper because I've alluded (more than once like in this post and this article) that I planned to stay away from retail, but I couldn't be more excited about launching in not just one, but two, well-known, natural grocery stores in the Bay Area: The Market and Berkeley Bowl West!
For those interested in biz strategy, below I share more on why I initially planned to avoid retail, why I decided to give these stores a shot and how I got into them:
My Initial Channel Strategy
As you know, I've carved out a pretty cool niche supplying some of the biggest tech companies in the Bay Area (and now Seattle … hello, Facebook!) my granola. The upside: This channel (food service) gives me great volume, access to consumers who are my target market and there’s little competition. But, there’s also a downside: Since gr8nola is often in bulk, my branding is limited since people don’t see my bright purple packaging.
To build my brand, I’ve focused my efforts online (through content marketing and Instagram) to drive awareness and direct sales on gr8nola.com and Amazon Prime. After all, consumers are buying everything online nowadays, and we’re seeing more and more CPG brands doubling down on their digital strategies to keep up these evolving purchasing behaviors.
Since I’m bootstrapped and very limited in resources, I’ve chosen to avoid entering retail because it’s notoriously challenging since you need money to market and “sell through” your product (through promotions, “free fills” and demos). As a small brand, it would be an expensive battle to go up against more well-known brands that have bigger marketing budgets and placement…at least until my brand becomes stronger and more widely known.
However, this doesn’t mean I intended NEVER to enter retail. I’ll share this quick one-page “strategy” I created back in 2016. My initial plan was to create demand from my B2B channel, “connect” with consumers online and have these channels seed and “pull” me into retail. And finally, I think it’s working!
Why These Markets?
The amazing and strategic thing about The Market is that it’s literally across the street from three of my corporate customers: Twitter, Uber and Square, where my OG gr8nola is already fueling thousands of employees less than 100 yards away. When I met the market manager, it was an easy sell because he knew I already had a huge customer base across the street. Plus, he loved the idea that they would be one of the only grocery stores in the Bay Area carrying gr8nola...so much that he gave me an endcap (the display at the end of an aisle) for my launch!
Berkeley Bowl is another case study of how my channel strategy has helped “pull” me into retail. First, for those who aren’t familiar, Berkeley Bowl is a super iconic, natural grocery store, especially for local products. One day, out of the blue, I received a sample request from them; and shortly after that, an order! The fact that Berkeley Bowl sought me out—not the other way around—really shows how I’m slowly but surely building a brand name through my Bay Area tech market and online efforts.
While some people like the chase (don’t get me wrong, I love when I close a deal after a relentless pursuit), it’s incredibly satisfying and confidence boosting when you’re sought after instead. This surely motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing: Keep listening to my gut and following my strategy, but also be open to new opportunities when it’s a strategic fit.