Last week Expo West was cancelled. No one knows how the virus will impact shopper behaviors – specifically how this will affect your sales. People still need to eat. They want healthy products more now than ever. Learn how to work smarter, not harder

Last week Expo West was canceled. No one knows how the virus will impact shopper behaviors - specifically how this will affect your sales. People still need to eat. They want healthy products more now than ever. Learn how to work smarter, not harder.

Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #174

Welcome to the Brand Secrets and Strategies podcast where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

I’m your host Dan Lohman. This weekly show is dedicated to getting your brand on the shelf and keeping it there.

Get ready to learn actionable insights and strategic solutions to grow your brand and save you valuable time and money.


Do you want to know how to future proof your brand in uncertain times? If you do then you're in the right place!

What this industry needs to do is to work smarter and not harder. There are a lot of people panicking right now and for good reason - there is tremendous uncertainty. This is the week after expo west was canceled. This week's podcast was going to be snippets of interviews that I recorded while at the expo west. I had plans talk to some of your favorite brands and thought leaders including some that I've already booked on the podcast for later this year. I thought this would be a great way to inspire you and share with you some of the key trends I noticed at Expo west this year. I also had plans to include snippets from my talk at the Canadian Organic Trade Association breakfast.

First, here are a couple of truths that I want you to think about as you listen to this episode. 1, people still need to eat and 2, people are going to be looking for healthier food options - especially now! They say that the best offense against the coronavirus and other diseases is good health. This is exactly why you launched your brand in the first place - to improve the health of future shoppers. Put another way, your shoppers need you more now than ever before.

With all the uncertainty we need to remain calm and think about what our objective is. We still need to sell products, we still need to pay our employees, and we still need to contribute to and support our community. We don't know how long this will last. In my opinion, we have a duty and an obligation to step up and help fight against consumer confusion about what a healthy diet looks like. And episode 42 of the podcast Gary HIRSHBERG the CEO of Stonyfield, talked about how food is medicine. He made the point that it was cheaper to eat healthy than it was to pay a doctor to fix the problem created by unhealthy food choices. The strategies throughout every episode of the podcast, YouTube channel, and all of my contacts are focused on teaching you creative ways to leverage this in your go-to-market strategy at retail.

So how do we do that? We do that by finding creative disruptive ways to work smarter and not hard. Here's what I mean by that.

In this industry, we create some of the most creative, innovative, unique, and disruptive products on the planet. It's those products that are driving sustainable sales across every category. This is exactly what I proved in the feature article I wrote for the 2016 Category Management Handbook. I'll put a link to it on the podcast webpage.

What I proved was that even though natural and organic products comprise a small fraction a total category sales, in their absence every category be flat or declining. What that means is that natural organic better-for-you products are the growth engine for the consumer package goods industry.

Your products are driving the health trends and are responsible for the sustainable sales growth retailers are looking for. Put another way, they need you more now than ever to compete effectively in their markets and to keep their customers coming back into their stores. They need you to remain relevant against all their competitive threats including online.

So I have a question for you? If you are responsible for category growth across every channel then why is it that we are playing by the rules big brands put in place - the same tired and ineffective strategies they use? Shouldn't your go-to-market strategy be as creative and disruptive as the ingredients in your packaging?

Retail is expensive it's pay to play. The strategies you use today came from big brands trying to buy their way onto store shelves and into consumers' pantries. Those strategies rely heavily, almost exclusively, on throwing a lot of money at consumers to manipulate them to buy your brand. Sadly, retailers now view this strategy as a revenue stream that they are now addicted to. This is exactly why trade marketing represents about 25% of every brand's gross sales and yet well over 70% of your promotional spending is wasted or ineffective.

So why is it that we’re playing are there turf - the big brands playing field? Why is it that we’re using their broken strategies to sell our products when in reality retailers need us a lot more than most of the big brands they sell? Why is it that CEOs of natural brands are expected to be perpetual fundraisers - always on the hunt for more cash? What if I told you that there's a better way. This is why this matters!

Retailers want three things 1) more customers in the stores, 2) a competitive advantage in their market, 3) and a reasonable profit. Savvy retailers know and understand that they need brands willing and able to help them achieve their objectives. This is the focus of today's podcast, YouTube channel, my on demand-courses, and all of my contacts. Most of which are entirely free. Leverage them to teach your team how to work smarter and not harder.

The Achilles' heel of big brands, and most of your competitors, are the cookies cutter strategies they rely on. Savvy retailers already know how your brand is performing on their shelves. They don't need the exact same report they get from each of your competitors. Using the same canned topline templated report that a brand uses to sell Motor oil will not differentiate your organic baby food from your competition - PERIOD.

What retailers want and need our brands willing and able to step up and take a leadership role in the category. A category leader as I define it is any brand willing and able to help guide their retail partner to drive sustainable sales by leveraging the unique strength of their brand and the consumer that buys it. What retailers really need, is to know how to leverage your brand to drive more shopper traffic in their stores, to gain a competitive advantage in their market, and to earn a reasonable profit. Don't forget that the customer who buys your product also buys premium complementary products across the entire store.

Think about it, the customer that understands the value of organic produce will most likely also buy organic dairy, organic snacks, as well as other organic products throughout the store. Their market basket is larger when they check out as a result. Your customers are far more valuable to retailers than mainstream brands shoppers. The same holds true for gluten-free, allergy-free, plant-based, and so on.

So how does this work specifically? It requires you to re-think your go-to-market strategy and focus more on the unique consumer that buys your products. This is exactly why I created my free Turnkey Sales Story Strategies course. Any brand with the discipline to leverage the strategies taught in this course will gain a significant and a stainable competitive advantage. This is the strategy that I developed years ago that I've been using throughout my career to push around some of the biggest most iconic brands on the planet including Procter & Gamble, Frito Lay, and many others. I’ve shared some of those stories on past podcast episodes.

Leveraging these strategies, and the strategies discussed on this podcast, while helping you work smarter and not harder. They will help you future proof your brand and help you grow beyond tomorrow if you apply them strategically. That is exactly why category management was originally developed - to help brands eliminate wasted trade spending, ineffective practices, and help us help retailers compete more effectively. Natural is where mainstream was 25 years ago. These strategies will work even better for natural - especially for brands that put their shopper's needs first above all else.

Here's a quick win that you can leverage with retailers. You're taught that you need to focus entirely on your sales velocity and that that is the only thing retailers pay attention to. Nothing could be further from the truth! It's possible for brands with deep pockets to buy sales velocity. Natural brands cannot begin to compete with big brands on this metric and nor should you.

Instead, Focus on the contribution your brand provides to the category. Your contribution is the profitable dollars that your brand contributes to category growth. This is what retailers take to the bank.

I go more in-depth on this topic and how to leverage these strategies at retail in my How To Assess The Health Of Your Brand mini-course. This course should pay for itself easily with one SKU at one retail appointment - now multiply that times every item you sell and every retailer that sells your brand. This is what retailers really want - brands that can help them drive profitable sales and attract more customers into their stores - your customers. Now multiply that each of my mini-courses.

No one knows how the coronavirus will impact consumer habits long-term. It is imperative to your brands very survival that you adopt the strategies necessary to help you reduce wasted trade spending and help you get your brand onto more store shelves and into the hands of more of shoppers - that includes online.

Did you miss out on the natural products business school at expo west this year? There are several free mini-courses available on my website that teach brand-building strategies well beyond what you would've learned at expo west or in other natural industry programs. I collaborated with top several leaders in our industry including one with Bob Burke. The on-demand mini-courses include the retail game - what you need to know with Bob Burke, the secret packaging strategy your brand needs, what retailers really want - brand building strategies, why most brands fail - the roadmap to sales success, essential in-store marketing customer-first strategies, sales success begins with a solid business plan, etc.

There are other mini-courses that will teach you one easy to digest simple strategy to give you a quick win at retail - then multiply that times every item and every retailer you sell to. These are strategies that I have leveraged to gain a significant and stainable competitive advantage for my clients and all the brands that I've worked with. They've worked for them and they can work for you too.

Thank you for listening. The free downloadable guide this week is my the essential new item checklist - the recipe for success. This will give you the healthy foundation that you need to build your brand on. Leveraging this with the strategies taught in the mini-courses will help you stand out on a crowded shelf and level the playing field with the most sophisticated brand in your category.

You can get today's show notes and today's free downloadable guide on the podcast webpage by going to

Thank you for listening and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

Thanks again for joining us today. Make sure to stop over at for the show notes along with more great brand building articles and resources. Check out my free course Turnkey Sales Story Strategies, your roadmap to success. You can find that on my website or at Please subscribe to the podcast, leave a review, and recommend it to your friends and colleagues.
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I appreciate all the positive feedback. Keep your suggestions coming.

Until next time, this is Dan Lohman with Brand Secrets and Strategies where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

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The Essential New Item Checklist – The Recipe For Success

New product innovation is the lifeblood of every brand. New products fuel sustainable growth, attracts new shoppers and increases brand awareness. Know the critical steps to get your product on more retailer’s shelves and into the hands of more shoppers.

Empowering Brands | Raising The Bar

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