Target marketing goes with in-store demos

Selling new natural food products requires knowing what it takes to get people to buy them. While operating b-to-b, getting to that “c” is essential.

According to the research company Nielsen, 72 percent of 29,000 survey respondents worldwide report they become aware of new products in stores.

Make certain you know which demographic you’re targeting. You can find that out, according to veteran grocery store manager Jeff Weidauer, now vice president, marketing and strategy, at Vestcom International Inc. in Little Rock, Ark. His company provides in-store marketing solutions to leading retailers nationwide.

Weidauer mentions that reaching your target market has become extremely challenging.

“First, get the demographics of customers,” he says. “Second, get their psychographics.”

He says lifestyle can be key, citing just-married college-educated millennials without children sharing the buying pattern of empty-nesters. Uncover the information through Google, the federal government and a local university. He suggests you establish a continuing relationship at the last.

Armed with this information, “tell consumers why they want your product,” he says. “Uncover a need. Define your target and value proposition. Otherwise, you’re throwing darts in the dark.”


After you’ve made strategic decisions and placed your product in grocery stores, take charge of persuading consumers to buy. Not every method costs a lot of money. Sedulous Foods LLC in Centennial, Colo., uses in-store demos and cross-merchandising for its natural hot sauces and seasonings, according to Mike Schultz, general manager. This family business opened in 2007 and now has five full-time and about nine part-time employees.

Schultz enthusiastically recommends in-store demos to reach shoppers directly and in-store personnel for when you’re not there. “Get people (in the stores) to be an ambassador for you,” he advises. “Then you have all of these other feet on the street.”

He’s also an advocate of cross-merchandising, which involves at least two departments. He persuaded an industry leader not only to carry his products but use them in food preparation.

“We coordinate with prepared foods and the grocery coordinator,” Schultz says. “The prepared foods department makes recipes with our products and then resells the food. They put little signs or stickers near the dish saying, ‘Made with Schultz’s Gourmet – Available in Grocery Department.’”

Gordon Hagedorn, vice president of sales and marketing at the family-owned CedarLane Natural Foods Inc. in Carson, Calif., which produces natural frozen and fresh foods, describes his partnership with retailers. An early player in natural products, CedarLane, after 30 years, has almost 600 employees in two plants, one each in Carson and Los Angeles.

Hagedorn highly recommends social media for natural foods manufacturers. “Consider a 50-cent coupon on Facebook or your website with possible doubling (to a dollar) by retailers,” he suggests. “Consumers have to buy your product to have the coupon redeemed. Collect email addresses.” He also recommends using information appealing to consumers on your website, including something about your community engagement.

“Give people an opportunity to try your product,” Weidauer suggests. “Have freebies at the check stand. We call it ‘feeding the bears ...’ A lot of people will buy it. Work with the merchandising team, maybe an individual store manager or a group of store managers.”

Dr. Mildred L. Culp welcomes your questions at culp@workwise.net. © 2013 Passage Media.