Businessman and businesswoman having a meeting in a cafe over a laptop

Prior to the COVID epidemic, I was worried that too few companies had a clear strategy for driving discovery and trial in physical stores. Gains in distribution would follow, but the activities required to move the goods off the shelf were costly and inefficient.

Furthermore, a significant amount of money was invested online in order to boost eCommerce sales.

Young natural product companies must have the resources to grow their following. They can’t just expect to be discovered on the shelf. The internet is not a panacea.

Because of the unit economics of eCommerce, consumers are often required to take a “risk” in order to test a new product, or the brand is required to subsidize that initial purchase. Before the world was flipped upside down, this was the situation.

What’s more, I’m now much more worried. Since the onset of the epidemic, consumer behavior has altered, making none of this any simpler.

I’m concerned that many businesses have been overly focused on getting unstuck, putting themselves in front of consumers (online), and getting into stores.

What methods will customers use to locate your goods? Basket numbers are down in retail, but the average basket size is up considerably.

That’s revealing. It implies that people are buying less often, and when they do, it’s for a specific reason.

Both treasure seeking and impulsive purchasing are in trouble. You just need to look at impulse-driven categories like RTD drinks to see how these developments have affected them.

When you combine all of this with the fact that companies will have to do more with less money, you’ve got a formula for catastrophe. Now is not the time to concentrate only on expansion for the sake of expansion.

What is your strategy for advancing discovery and trial? How are you bringing your brand to life?

Slow down if you can’t confidently answer these two questions. Before you invest all of your time and money into expanding your distribution, be sure you have a strategy in place that has been tried and shown to increase discovery.

You must be confident in your ability to engage your brand both on and off the shelf.

It’s time to reconsider your trial and discovery approach. Consumers shop along a continuum with many junctions.

Each of them is a storefront where customers may purchase goods. These crossroads include places where people live, work, play, exercise, and so on.

You need to be where the issue you’re addressing or the demand you’re fulfilling is intense today more than ever.

In this essay, I am not attempting to be pessimistic. However, I’m attempting to elicit the right feeling of urgency.

You’ll be far better off solving for discovery first and later for growth. It’s time to become specific and focused, which applies to both brick and mortar and eCommerce.

Use empathy to your advantage, see through your customers’ eyes, and devise a way of connecting with them that isn’t based on chance or hope, since neither are components of effective strategy. Please accept my apologies for the harsh treatment.

Thanks to Elliot Begoun at Business 2 Community whose reporting provided the original basis for this story.