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How Brands Can Win Through The Holidays At Grocery Retailers

It's the most wonderful time of the year - for grocery stores especially! November and December are when retailers make the majority of their profits.

With the holidays just around the corner, now is the time for natural and organic food companies to ramp up their game and snatch up a piece of that pie. Here are a few tips on how to win big during this important time of year.

Why the Holidays are so Important in the Natural & Organic Food and Beverage Industry

The holiday season is officially in full swing. November and December are massive months for retailers, driving the highest foot traffic to grocery of the whole year. Not only are more people shopping, but the amount of unique foot traffic also grows aggressively, as shoppers are generally traveling to different cities and states to see family during the holidays. Talk about maximum exposure months.

The holidays are a time to spend, and retailers know it. With so many people loosening their purse strings once leaves fall off trees, it's no surprise retailers are generally recording their highest sales of the year over the next two months.

People also get much more adventurous in their cooking during the season. They're preparing meals to serve and impress family members and friends with breakfast, lunch, and dinner (don't forget brunch and dessert!). As such, we see a rise of exploration in trying new products to both show off and fulfill the dietary needs of guests.

So what does this all mean for natural and organic food and beverage brands? This is the perfect time to get into more baskets and shoppers' homes.

Which Days Matter Most

The largest sales days of the season are Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday leading up to Thanksgiving.

These days tend to have the largest baskets as shoppers stock up for their gatherings. The weekend prior to Thanksgiving is also a huge mover. We tend to see a lot of sales on things that can be prepared in advance. Think about things like baking and desserts. Shoppers want to be able to prep these things before they get caught up with work on Monday through Wednesday.

December has sales spread more evenly throughout the month as compared to November. It’s really a month filled with entertainment as Hanukkah runs eight days, kids have holiday breaks from school, we see more PTO, and don’t forget all of the holiday and weekend parties. But the largest concentration of sales and baskets does occur in the days before Christmas.

What Challenges Exist in the CPG Industry During the Holidays

The biggest challenges brands face during the holidays will be fighting to keep space and maintaining velocity.

Seasonal products begin to hit shelves in late October, shrinking the amount of space available for brands currently on shelf (sometimes up to 25% less space). Flour, sugar, spices, and other commodities are the largest volume drivers for retailers and will dominate displays and demand the attention of store team members. If you’re not actively working with your stores, it will be easy to get deprioritized when it comes to space and re-orders.

The worst thing that could happen is seeing your real estate shrink and out of stocks increase while foot traffic increases. Be prepared to defend your space and increase reminders on re-orders.

How to Set Up Your Brand to Thrive Through the Holidays

The first step is to understand and accept that you won't be a priority for retailers during the next two months. Their priority will be to make sure they don’t run out of milk, eggs, sugar, spices, and flour. You’ll need to prepare to put extra focus in grinding at retail through the seasons. Here’s how to not only maintain but accelerate your brand through the season:

  • Defend your space: Seasonal items start hitting shelves in October. That means there is less space for everyday items (sometimes up to 25% less space). Get in-store and work with store managers. If you’re present and vocal, you won’t lose your space. Just be prepared with a pitch, if asked, why your brand deserves the space it has. Brands without a field presence are far more likely to lose their space.

  • Get Creative with Cross Merchandising: Stores love getting creative during the holidays. Draft a plan and pitch on how your products can tie into holiday sets and have your field teams start selling your vision. This is easy for brands with seasonal SKUs. It’s harder for brands without seasonal SKUs but not impossible. Sit down with your field teams and start brainstorming ideas on how to tie into sets.

  • Snap up those displays when they go out of stock: Seasonal displays, filled with commodities, drive massive volume. So much volume that they are impossible to keep stocked. Stores don’t want displays empty with foot traffic on the rise. Keep an eye out on display inventory levels, be prepared with your pitch when out of stocks occur, and most importantly, ask for the win. You’re going to have opportunities like this every day during a time where there are more shoppers than any other time. Win displays, win new customers, and start 2023 with a bang.

  • Focus on the weekend and days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas: The weekend before Thanksgiving is huge for anything that can be prepped in advance, as people want to get things done before work on Monday (baking, desserts, etc.). The largest baskets occur on the weekdays leading up to Christmas and Thanksgiving. If you have to prioritize days, prioritize those. Especially when it comes to ordering.

  • Stay in Stock: As mentioned a few times above, November and December drive more foot traffic with shoppers less price sensitive than any other months of the year. This is your time to drive volume and acquire new households. Don’t let out of stocks ruin that. Work with buyers to keep them frequently reordering.

The holiday season can be a make-or-break time for retailers and brands. With more shoppers coming through the doors and less space available in store, brands need to be especially prepared. The next two months are critical to setting yourself up for a strong start to 2023. These tips will help you stay ahead of the competition and win retail during one of the busiest times of year.

Are you ready?

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