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9 Keys to Success for New Retail Launches: Advice from Client Brands

9 Keys to Success for New Retail Launches: Advice from Client Brands

In the ever-evolving landscape of CPG, one timeless truth remains: It’s hard. Whether you're launching a new product or expanding your brand, establishing trust and getting off to a good start with your buyers is essential. We thought we’d ask our own client brands that have “been there” and “done that” for advice they’d share with other growing brands pursuing a new launch. So, with that said, here are 9 keys to success – straight from brands who have launched and grown successfully.


1. Buyer Feedback

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Feedback isn't just a one-time interaction at the category review; it's a continuous dialogue that shapes your brand’s trajectory with that retailer. Many times, we see brands communicate with the buyer only when they need something. This road needs to go both ways.

Melissa Ferrie, Head of Sales at Graza, believes continuous dialogue is key. “First and foremost, we want to connect with our buyer...to be able to talk about the data, show what is new and what our brand is bringing to the table.”

Understanding a retailer's needs and preferences fosters a sense of partnership and shows that you value their input and are willing to make the necessary adjustments to be successful. A new retail account is more than just a PO—it's an opportunity to make a real connection with your buyer and build a lasting piece of your growing business. Prioritize these authentic interactions. Show genuine interest in their category, be knowledgeable and let them know that you're invested in their category, not just their shelf space.

2. Brand Awareness

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Before launching a product into a new retail partner, prioritize building brand awareness. Ask yourself, does my audience recognize my brand and understand its value proposition? Kristi Fanning, Director of Marketing, at Abbots Butcher acknowledged that it’s important to “make sure your target consumer knows exactly who you are and what you stand for.” This includes building an audience and promoting through your own channels including email and social media. 

Investing in pre-launch marketing efforts lays the foundation for a successful product introduction and sets you apart from the competition. At Graza, this is already part of their process. “We work really hard to make people aware of our brand before we are in the store so that we can be recognizable when we get there,” said Ferrie.


3. Out-of-Store Incentives

If you've built a captive audience through your own communication channels like email and social media, offering out-of-store incentives could be an effective way to get them to try that new product or visit that new retailer. Whether it's exclusive promotions with a program like Ibotta or an internal loyalty offer, not only does it make your consumers feel valued and appreciated, but it also helps support your launch and reinforces your commitment to success with your retail partner(s).

Fanning suggests offering out-of-store discount coupons to drive traffic to new retailers and drive trial. “Make sure that you are providing incentives outside of the aisle, like a $1 off to go try the new product,” she says.


“We work really hard to make people aware of our brand before we are in the store so that we can be recognizable when we get there.”
- Melissa Ferrie, Graza 

4. Pricing Strategy

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Getting your pricing right is crucial for success. Conduct thorough market research to understand your product's value proposition and set a competitive yet profitable price that leaves room for a comfortable margin after expenses. Ipek Erdogan-Trinkaus, Chief Commercial Officer at Milkadamia, believes this should be a top consideration with any new launch.

“Number one is to get your price right - never start from a low price," Erdogan-Trinkaus said. "Really understand your cost of goods sold (COGS), as well as all of the expenses...all of the chargebacks you are going to incur with distributors as well as trade promotions."

Indeed, especially for younger brands, chargebacks and deductions can be a minefield (more on this later) so it is best to plan as well as possible up front. Ultimately, the right price sets the tone for your brand. Do the due diligence to get it right from the start, but don't hesitate to adjust your pricing strategy based on consumer feedback and market dynamics.  


5. Data-Driven Decision-Making

When you're launching a new product or retailer, there are always going to be lots of unknowns. Set yourself up with the right tools and data to track actual results - and make sure you have access to insights from that data in a timely manner so you can make impactful decisions. Getting POS register data 30 days after a launch is not as valuable as seeing it come in on a daily basis, as our clients do with Crisp data in Promomash. This allows you to assess the effectiveness of your promotional strategies and identify improvements to affect results immediately.

Laurel Orley, CEO and Co-Founder at Daily Crunch, believes that "data is queen" when it comes to a new launch. "While we think that getting on the shelf is the hardest part, that's actually the first step - and it's really easy to get discontinued," she said. "Make sure you're monitoring your velocities and promotions...get those key takeaways and understand what's working and what's not, because that is going to be what keeps you in the store."

In addition to actual results, use data and insights to keep a pulse on market trends, consumer behavior, and competitive activity to stay agile and responsive. Ross McDowell, Co-Founder at All Real Nutrition, suggests using Crisp to stay one step ahead. "Keep an eye on Crisp straight away and make sure that all the stores that are meant to have the products do have the products, so you can be following up with your broker to make sure you are where you're supposed to be." 



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“Number one is to get your price right - never start from a low price."
- Ipek Erdogan-Trinkaus, Milkadamia 

6. In-Store Promotion

Promotions at the shelf can boost initial trial and drive early adoption of your product with your key retailers. There are several ways to do trade promotion in support of your new launch - the most common examples are coupons, temporary price reductions or TPRs, displays, and samples. In-store demos are an effective way to hand out samples, showcase your product, and entice shoppers to try and buy. Combined with a promo, it can be more powerful and even create loyal repeat customers. 

Whatever type of promotion you execute, it's important to be able to track the effectiveness and ROI of these programs. The earlier brands start collecting historical insights on their in-store sales and promotional capabilities with retailers, the more confidence they can gain with buyers on future deal negotiations. It sets your brand up for long-term success and strong relationships when you can confidently promise certain results based on real data. This is where a trade promotion management platform like TradeGenius by Promomash becomes an invaluable asset to growing brands. 

Kevin McCay, Chief Operations Officer at Safe Catch, reminds us of the importance of having data behind retailer discussions. “Communicating how much effort you're going to put into promoting at the store level and having those tools available so that you can say 'we have data that says this works...if we do this in your store, it's gonna be good for the both of us'," McCay explained, makes for a more confident and mutually beneficial negotiation with retailers.


7. Watch Deductions & Chargebacks

One bad promotion deal or retailer/distributor partnership has the potential to affect your entire business. Trust your instincts but be cautious in decision-making. In CPG, there's a painful lesson around every corner, and a frequent source of pain for many brands, as mentioned earlier, is customer deductions or chargebacks. Ironically, however, this pain is totally preventable. By closely understanding your contracts and keeping a vigilant eye on charges as they come through, you can avoid surprises and potential pitfalls that may arise - and have the backup needed to dispute incorrect charges.

"Launching into a new market is so exciting...but there are rip-offs at every turn," said Diana Callahan, Co-Owner at Bellwether Farms. If brands are not careful, they could be committing to way more than they bargained for. "You don't realize that you've signed up for a promotion for one year where you thought it was only going to be 60 days...be careful about what you're signing up for, and honestly trust your gut...you know your product the best."

The timing of deductions and accruing them as they are incurred is important to avoiding surprises as well, according to Matthew Wood, Director of Retail at Rishi Tea & Botanicals. "In terms of slotting and free fill, it's extremely important to get the timing of those deductions right...if you're launching with a retailer in a given month, the bill back may not come through for six to eight months." He goes on to explain that by using Promomash to enter and accrue deductions, they're able to better plan for the expenses whether they come through or not. 

As a reminder, Promomash offers a done-for-you deduction service called DeductionGenius that manages the entire process end-to-end and goes as far as fighting invalid deductions and chargebacks on your behalf. This frees you to focus on other aspects of your launch or new retailer relationship while having the peace of mind to know you're on top of deductions. 


"Make sure you're monitoring your velocities and promotions...get those key takeaways and understand what's working and what's not, because that is going to be what keeps you in the store."
- Laurel Orley, Daily Crunch 

8. Know Your Category

In a field where there is so much innovation, emerging better-for-you CPG brands launching a new product or market owe it to themselves to gain a thorough understanding of the category they are in. This includes pricing, competitors, promotional strategies, consumer trends, and more. Be prepared with this knowledge pre-launch and build it into your plan, then monitor for changes post-launch. 

George Curran, VP of Sales at Gimme Health Foods, believes that understanding your category and planning are both top considerations for a launch. "You've got to really understand who your competitors are, the pricing and also their promotional strategy...and then lay a course and be consistent with your plan. Don't deviate." He adds that developing a feedback loop with your category managers is a key part of tracking the plan and staying atop of changes.  

Again, when it comes to understanding your category and planning, having the right data and insights at your disposal is crucial. As mentioned before, you can leverage a tool like Crisp to monitor velocities, inventory, and other critical sales metrics in near real-time, across all major retailers, to see how you're doing in stores. And when it comes to deeper analysis on trade and non-trade spend, trade rate, promotion effectiveness, sales lift and more, the CPGenius suite of tools from Promomash can provide key metrics. 


9. Continuous Improvement

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Success isn't a milestone—it's a journey of continuous improvement. Keep evolving your retail marketing strategies and plans based on buyer feedback, market insights, and emerging market trends. By staying proactive, you'll maintain a competitive edge and build lasting relationships with your retail partners which will in turn keep you in stores and in the homes of your consumers. 

Building genuine connections with your retail partners is the foundation of long-term success in the CPG industry. By prioritizing authenticity, listening to consumer and buyer feedback, planning accordingly, and arming yourself with the right tools to enable timely data-driven decisions, you'll establish trust, drive engagement, and set your brand up for sustainable and profitable growth.

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