top tips for working with retail buyers

Fostering mutually beneficial relationships with your retail buyers is vital for the success of every food and drink brand. This can be difficult for Scottish brands because:

– Buyers are rotated regularly, so building long term relationships is no longer possible

– Retailers continue to push price cuts and promotions* which can erode margin

– Grocery sales in Scotland continue to decline at a greater rate than the rest of the UK**

– Large multinationals have significantly more budget to support retailer discussions

– Smaller brands get less opportunities to meet with the buyers


Four tips to foster more successful trade discussions

  1. Put yourself in their shoes

– Know your buyer’s category and their competitors

– Buyers are measured and bonused against their relative performance

– Buyers rarely have enough time for store visits therefore competitive insight is very valuable

– This could be as simple as using photos to set the scene

  1. Be innovative

– Stand out from the crowd

– Demonstrate why your product is better, different and more appealing than what is already on the shelves

– Use research to show that your product serves a real need or aspiration

– Discuss why your creative campaign and brand story is aligned to the retailer’s values and objectives

  1. Inspire

– Showcase what you offer and how this is different to the norm. This moves the focus of the meeting away from price and could help to maintain your margin

– Buyers are competitive and want to be the person to launch the next big product, in-store event, creative sampling or the next generation of POS

– If you create a fantastic initiative this could help to secure space at the front of the store or the gondola end. This will have a significant impact on sales volumes

  1. Keep it simple and to the point

– Buyers are extremely busy and it is common for a meeting to be cut short

– All presentations must be visually appealing and memorable

– Working with an external agency to tailor presentations can be the difference between winning a game changing listing or not


If fostering mutually beneficial relationships is important to your business, then Denvir can help you to:

– Prepare impactful and actionable research for retailer meetings

– Develop a creative campaign aligned to the retailer’s values and objectives

– Drive the development of your next inspiring initiative

– Develop trade marketing plans


About the author

Deborah Brown is a successful strategy and planning specialist with a great deal of experience in trade marketing. She has propelled business growth and success through the provision of actionable insight, category management, coaching and strategy development. She believes that customer focus is vital in the development of innovation, successful propositions, account management and business strategy, she has worked with Tesco and FMCG suppliers of all sizes, from start ups to larger brands including Cott Beverages, Princes and Ferrero to:

– Drive competitor understanding

– Drive category growth

– Grow/ defend supplier listings

– Drive consumer centric plans

– Build promotional strategies

– Enhance supplier/retailer strategies


(*July 15, Mike Watkins, Nielsen; ** July 15, David McCorquodale, KPMG)