Merchandising, Packaging, CPG Team Management

Six Steps to Starting a Successful Food and Beverage Business

food and beverageSo, you have a great beverage recipe. Now what? It can be intimidating to approach taking your product to the next level and embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship. There’s a lot to think about -- where are you going to sell? How are you going to compete with other products? To be successful in breaking into the food and beverage industry, every entrepreneur needs to do these 6 things:

1. Start small, then scale up

It’s important to start small so that you don’t take on more than you’re prepared to handle. However, you should organize your business so that you have the ability to scale up as your sales increase. You should be able to expand upon your existing processes and systems, rather than creating entirely new ones. As you expand, should look to other companies to become a part of your system.

You will want to find a co-packer to manufacture and package for you. Using a co-packer may lower your capital requirements and will allow you to focus your time and resources on expanding your business. Then, as you continue to grow, you will want to find a beverage distributor to warehouse your product and sell to retailers for you. It’s important to invest time into choosing a distributor that will fit well into your vision for your company.

2. Build a solid field team

Your mobile team is a huge part of your success; they are going to represent your product and your company out in the field. To build a quality field team, you first need to choose the right reps. When you’re interviewing, look for individuals who mirror your enthusiasm and share your dedication and goals. Once you’ve found the right people to make up your team, you want to create a positive culture within the team. Since mobile reps usually work individually, it’s important that everyone feels connected to each other and to the company. Mobile CRM or food distribution software is a perfect tool for fostering communication between reps and management. Remote team tracking tools can also create a culture of accountability and excellence in your team.

3. Have a retail execution plan

Now you have a phenomenal field merchandising team. However, without an organized retail execution plan, even the best team will fall short of successful food and beverage merchandising. You need to develop a plan and keep changing it as the market changes. You should know your target audience and competition: What does your audience respond to? What are your competitors doing to generate attention? Again, good food distribution software will allow you to collect and analyze data on competitors.

Merchandising is going to be a huge factor in your success. POPAI, Point of Purchase Advertising International, found that 70% of US shoppers make purchase decisions in store. The in-store appearance and availability of your product is key, so you should have a structured plan for field reps when they enter a store: Where should product be located? How should it be displayed? Is it all fronted? How is it being promoted? These details will make the difference between you and competitors.

4. Design great packaging

The appearance of your product is key to creating its identity. Spend time designing a quality product that looks and feels good. You can check out these tips on current trends in packaging. Don’t neglect the practical parts of packing, though. Think about how your product will fit on the shelf or in displays, and whether its shape and size are practical.

5. Advertise 

Next, you need to advertise! If you have created a product in a pre-existing category, you don’t want to approach your competitors head on. Instead, differentiate yourself from them. Find your competitor's weakness, and make that your strength! A great advertising strategy is to focus on creating a culture around your brand. Think about this: Who are you as a company? What message do you want to give? What will your target audience respond to? For an example, check out Nantucket Nectars. They're “the juice guys,” the laid back just-wanna-have-fun Tom and Tom.

6. Keep changing

The food and beverage market is constantly growing and responding to consumer’s interest. Trends, like health beverages or energy drinks, come and go. You should develop opportunities for customer engagement. It is essential that you improve and adapt your product over time, based on the feedback of your customers. Customer feedback will lead you directly to your next decisions - what will you expand upon? What will you cut back on? By basing decisions on customer feedback, you insure the success of your product.

If you stick to these six key ideas, your food or beverage product will be primed to fly off the shelves!

Molly Brogie

Molly Brogie is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly with a passion for innovation. She is committed to providing readers with informative and engaging material. Molly is a self proclaimed gym-junkie, and loves Shakespeare.

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