Nothing happens until someone buys your products and shoppers can’t buy them if they can’t find them. Make it easier for customers to find and buy your brand! Proven strategies to grow sales, stand out on a crowded shelf, and 2x your loyal shoppers.

Have you ever wondered who decides where your product will be merchandised? Would you be shocked to learn that it’s frequently your competitor’s broker? Do you trust anyone to merchandise your product but you? That’s what we’re going to be talking about today.

Do you trust anyone BUT you to merchandise your brand? 

This can put your future in jeopardy.

Why this matter and how you can defend against it.

Would you be surprised to learn that your competitor might decide where your brands is merchandised in the category? It’s true and the strategy taught in todays podcast can give you the advantage you need to protect your brand and ensure a bright future. 

Download the show notes below



Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #161

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.


Nothing happens until someone buys your products, and shoppers can't buy them if they can't find them. Make it easier for customers to find and buy your products. Proven strategies to grow sales stand out on a crowded shelf and to extra loyal shoppers. Have you ever wondered who decides where your product will be merchandised? Would you be shocked to learn that it's frequently your competitor's broker? Do you trust anyone to merchandise your product but you? That's what we're going to be talking about today. As always, I want to thank you for listening. This show is about you, and it's for you. In appreciation for your time, there's a free downloadable guide at the end of every podcast episode. I always include one, easy-to-download, quick-to-digest strategy that you can instantly adopt and make your own, one that you can use to grow sustainable sales with and compete more effectively.

Remember, the goal here is to get your brand on more store shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. On these shorter episodes, there's a YouTube component where I may share visuals to help illustrate what I'm talking about, so you want to check out the videos, also. If you liked the episode, share with your friends, subscribe and leave a review. If you want to see more brand-building content, subscribe and hit the like bell so that you'll be the first to get new, actionable insights as soon as they come out. Most of the brands that I talk to trust that the retailer is going to automatically know where to put their product to drive the most traffic to help grow your brand and help grow their sales. The challenge is that that's not always true. Let me explain. Retailers cannot possibly be experts in every product they sell.

In addition to that, a lot of times the retailer relies heavily on an independent broker, a third party, to merchandise your product, companies that don't have any idea who your customer is or how your customer shops a category, so a lot of times they put together schematic recommendations based upon what they think makes most sense. The reality is is that this seldom works. The harsh reality is is that those schematics are more about putting products on the shelf than thinking about strategies to drive sales within the category. This is where today's episode comes in. I want to share with you a strategy that I came up with even before I worked for Unilever. It's worked for me, and it's going to work for you. Here's the idea behind it.

Instead of like most people taking their product and sharing, getting distribution and getting the retailer excited about it and hoping and praying that they're going to put it on their shelf in the right place, my strategy is simply this. Guide them, help them understand where to put your product, where should it be merchandised, where should it be merchandised with fact-based insights that illustrate why the product needs to be there and how if the retailer merchandises your product where you're telling them, it's going to help them grow sales in the category.

Generically speaking, retailers don't make anything. What they do is they sell real estate in the form of the space that your product takes up. In other words, how much margin can that retailer squeeze out of your product, out of that small sliver of space that your product takes up on the shelf. What retailers really want are three things. They want more traffic in their stores, they want a reasonable profit, and in addition to that, they want a competitive advantage. And if you can help the retailer achieve their objectives, then they're going to bend over backward and help you achieve yours, meaning grow sales.

And the way to do that begins with making it easier for customers to find and buy your products. And this, of course, all starts with making it easy for customers to find your products because it's merchandised correctly. It's merchandised the same way in every store, even across multiple retailers. So what I'm going to suggest to you is a strategy that is going to help you guide the retailer to drive sustainable sales in their category by leveraging the unique customer that comes in and buys your product. Now I've talked a lot about that customer and how you need to know who your customer is. A lot of people pay lip service to female, head of household, et cetera. That's exactly why I created the free turnkey sales story strategies course. The point behind that is teaching you how to identify who your core customer is. How do they use your product when they come home?

How do they share it with their friends and their family? How do they evangelize about your product? I'll bet you there are things that you don't know about how your customers use your product at this point, so take that course again. It's free. So once you become an expert in your customers, how they shop the category, how they buy your products, how they use your products, next, you need to become an expert in your competitors. You need to understand what's different, why they choose their product over your product or vice versa. Then, next, you want to help the retailer understand how to drive sales in the category by sharing what you've already learned. And this all comes back to your merchandising strategy, and the reason this matters, like I said in the beginning, is that customers can't buy your products if they can't find them.

So what do we do about it? Well, as I mentioned, a lot of times what brands do is they give a retailer the product, they accept it into distribution and they hope and pray that the retailer is going to put it somewhere on the shelf that makes sense. Well, the reality is that always doesn't happen. In fact, a good example of this is in podcast 104, I was actually talking to someone the prior week, a prospective client, that was sharing a story with me about this exact topic. What they shared was, by the way, you're going to want to go back and listen to that, is that they went into a store to help their friend who had just gained distribution in a retail store. So after about 20 minutes of searching for their product, with the help of the people, with the store personnel, they found the product but it was merchandised in the wrong area.

Now the challenge with this is that all the people that the brand is trying to drive into the retail store, they couldn't find the product so they left disappointed. The retailer was expecting a huge bump from the promotions. They lost out, too, because again, customers couldn't find it. In addition to that, a lot of people left disappointed and unhappy with the brand. Now, the sad reality is is that they get this product merchandised to where it needs to be. They need to set a new meeting with the retailer to get it merchandised correctly. Now, that's obviously not going to happen tomorrow. Now, why does this matter? Well, the brand hired an agency to help them get distribution in the store. I hear this all the time. Well, the agency got them the distribution, but no one helped guide the retailer as to where their product needed to be merchandised.

So don't assume that the retailer automatically knows where your product needs to be merchandised. This is why going back to what I said a minute ago, you need to have a fact-based story, a fact-based understanding, of where that customer shops, how they shop, when they shop, where they look for your product. By leveraging these strategies, you can help illustrate to the customer or guide the retailer to help understand where they need to merchandise your product. But back to this course, how to land shelf space and win at retail. The focus of this mini-course and the focus of today's podcast is showing or identifying and helping the retailer understand how to merchandise your product. One of the strategies that I share is something I came up with years ago. Now let me segue a little bit and talk about the fact that schematic software is horribly expensive, especially for a small brand. While working for Kimberly-Clark and Unilever, I had the privilege of having sometimes two or three different competing software on my computer because different retailers use different systems. That software can be horribly expensive.

I was told that one piece of the software actually cost $10,500, and another one cost $12,000. Well, obviously that's something that any small brand can't buy. So I've come up with several strategies that I share in the mini-course, but I'm going to share one with you today. If you simply take a picture of the current category and you insert your product where it goes, a picture of your product with an arrow pointing to it, saying, "Here's where it needs to go." That's a quick, cheap, easy to do strategy. As I said, I've got several others in the course that you can use. The point is this. If you can help illustrate to the retailer where your product goes, then that's going to help guide them to drive sales with your product. Now, one of the challenges with that, things I cover in addition to that in the course is that if you put your product in a place, you put one product in, one product needs to come out.

Sometimes you need to reshuffle some of the products in the set. The more you reshuffle the products in the category, the more it's going to cost the retailer, or even you in most cases, to change it. So you want to come up with easy to quick fixes. I talk a little bit about this in the course, but I've got other strategies like I said, on how to do that, how to illustrate that to make it easier for the retailer to understand visually where your product goes on the shelf. Now, the key point here is to guide the retailer to drive sustainable sales in their category by leveraging the strength of your core consumer, the consumer that buys your product, what I talked about a minute ago. Now, another challenge that I've run into that I wanted to share with you is I mentioned that a lot of times, brands have their product merchandised on a shelf by their competitor's broker without even knowing it.

Now, this is a problem, and the reason this is a problem is that you're trusting your sales, your success to anyone but you. Now, I certainly don't want to imply that brokers go out of their way to make it difficult for customers to buy your brand, but the reality is is that they make it easier to focus, for customers to buy their products. That's where their focus is. That's where they're getting paid. And so their products are first. Your customers are sort of an afterthought. What I'm getting at is helping the retailer understand where your product goes on the shelf and then helping the retailer guide their broker partner or whoever does their schematics for them to put your product where it needs to go. And I give you an exact illustration of why this matters. Several years ago there was a brand that I was talking to that I was trying to help them with their distribution.

And the challenge for the brand is, without them knowing it, is that their biggest competitor had actually designed the schematic and they designed it in such a way where it illustrated the fact that this particular brand was higher priced than any other brand on the shelf. So from the consumer perspective, this product cost too much money. So what they did is they merchandised this brand next to less expensive items so it looked like it was really expensive, instead of merchandising next to like items, next to similar items with a similar price point. In other words, they merchandised it with mainstream items as opposed to natural items. If the product had been merchandised correctly, it would help the brand compete more effectively. More importantly, it would help the retailer drive more sustainable sales within the category. What happened was because the brand was mis-merchandised and because the strategy was designed to highlight how expensive their brand was, their brand eventually fell off the shelf because customers didn't see the value in it.

Now, what happened was because the brand was merchandised incorrectly, the brand didn't have the velocity or the sales volume to be able to maintain or be able to justify why it needed to be on the shelf. If, however, the brand had been in the right place on the shelf, the brand could have gone to the retailer and had a fact-based argument as to why they needed to keep that brand on the shelf, but instead, their brand trusted someone else to manage their distribution, and as a result, the brand failed. I see this all the time. This is why I believe it's so critically important for brands to own every aspect of their sales strategy and not farm it out. This is why I think it's so critically important for brands to keep their hand firmly on their rudder or their ship to help drive everyone that touches their brand to make sure it's merchandised properly so that customers can easily find and buy your product.

Remember, you're trying to help the retailer drive sales by leveraging the strength of your brand. If the retailer can't do that, well, then you're just another product on the shelf. By the way, this is something that every brand struggles with. Even the big brands, in fact, especially the big brands. The strategy today is simply to give your brand to the retailer and hope that the retailer puts it in the right place. By doing this, by leveraging this simple strategy, I was able to become the category captain for several key categories when I worked for big brands. In addition to that, I was able to help leverage my sales to gain incremental merchandising space and incremental promotional opportunities that other brands had to pay for. And the reason I was able to do that is because I provided so much value to the retailer, helping them achieve their objective, that they were more than happy to reward me by giving me all of these incentives.

Now, obviously, I can't promise that retailers are going to do that for you, but try this and this is going to help you in the long run. More importantly, these are the strategies that you can use to grow sustainable sales across any category in any channel. These are the strategies I share with my clients. They've helped them and they can help you.

Today's free downloadable guide is my merchandising checklist to grow sales and shopper loyalty. This is the perfect download for you. It's going to help guide you to drive shopper loyalty and sales by leveraging some of the things we talked about. As a side note, I frequently offer deep discounts on some of the courses randomly for everyone to subscribe to my weekly newsletter. So you're going to want to check that out. Anyhow, you're going to get the free download plus the show notes at 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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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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