05 February 2019, 16:07 PM
  • Meenesh Mistry, founder of healthy cookie brand Wholey Moly, shares his tips
5 ways to attract retail distribution

Launching Wholey Moly natural cookies in Selfridges was a dream, sure, but realising that dream required practical steps. Some of these steps were strategic and others were simply human awareness skills.

Based on the approach we used with Selfridges, here are five things to consider when seeking retail distribution for your product.

Have a great tasting product that is on trend. However, while your product should be on trend, it should also be unique - inspiring a sense of excitement in the buyer. Using Wholey Moly as an example, a healthy snack is nothing new, but a healthy cookie made from 100% natural ingredients absolutely is.

Show your product’s unique selling point clearly, and show how that would appeal to customers of your target retailer.

I spent many hours lurking the isles of Selfridges food hall, studying the branding, messaging and visuals of comparable products. Naturally, Selfridges prioritises brand aesthetic, so this informed the direction we took with Wholey Moly’s packaging design.

When developing your branding, don’t be afraid to take cues from other brands, but don’t copy. In our case, based on the products Selfridges was already selling, we realised our product needed to tick their premium aesthetic box, but needed to do so via a unique brand voice that clearly communicated our unique offering.

By offering exclusivity, you immediately make your pitch more appealing to retail buyers. Of course, this can be difficult when you’re chasing multiple retailers, but you can still offer a ‘launch first’ agreement with one retailer, then distribute through others later.

Even if you haven’t started trading yet, you can still demonstrate momentum - which not only gives your brand gravitas, but helps create a sense of urgency, inspiring the retailer to act quicker than they otherwise might. To generate your momentum, consider social media; it’s accessible, free and a powerful means of developing strong relationships with customers.

Press placements are momentum-building gold, too. We got a great bit of press from Women’s Health Magazine after they rated us No.1 New Health Snack in the Market. Trust
me, we milked this bit of PR dry. If you’re based in London, a celebrity is never too far away - so always carry your products with you and get that selfie!

Invariably, buyers are inundated with new products knocking on their door, so they won’t always get back to you straight away ... if at all.

You need to stay persistent without being annoying. Buyers are human like you, and I’m sure you’d get annoyed receiving five ‘follow-up- emails from Bob every day, so try space them out. Instead of sending endless “have you read my email?” inquisitions, offer updates on how you are progressing, developing or growing – again, this speaks to the momentum of your brand, and indicates your product’s desirability.

It sounds obvious, but don’t underestimate the value of sending your product to your desired target – there’s nothing more powerful than someone holding, touching and feeling your product. Oh, and make sure there’s enough for the whole office to try, after all, two or three people might be key decision-makers, and if your product is liked throughout the office, that’s a good start.

If you still don’t have any luck, get creative and be charming. I didn’t hear back from the Selfridges buyer for over a month, despite a handful of emails, so I delivered a box of cookies with a hand written note to her office. I did this on a Tuesday, and by Wednesday, we had agreed a price and a launch date. Buyers are humans!

Good luck.