Inspiring the Trade: Get your Products Listed

You’ve invested months into developing a polished piece of branded packaging and a shopper marketing strategy to attract the right customer. Now the big-name buyers need convincing of its worth. So, how do you convince the trade to stock your products across their store network?

As a brand and packaging design agency we want to help more brands get listed – big and small – so if you’re looking for strategy inspiration, we wanted to share a few sound-checks that we go through with food and beverage brands when we develop trade sell-in kits. Hopefully, these tips will help you to think through how you approach your next big product launch, how to get listed and keep the buyers interested in your product.

Strike a balance

We’re always surprised to see the number of challenger and market-leading brands that invest in the perfect packaging and then present them to the trade with a few standard pack shots, in-store photos and lots of text.

We’ve all had to sit through a 97% text presentation and the experience is never an awe-inspiring one! One certainty when it comes to presenting to the trade is it needs to be interesting, engaging and well sequenced – offering a compelling reason for the buyer to stock your brand.

Having created successful presentations for our clients to address the trade, we find that the best ratio balance to create optimum engagement is:

20% text
30% props
50% imagery

Know your trade

Retailers all take slightly different approaches to their range reviews, so it’s important to get into their mindset and understand what their priorities are. Before you approach the buyers, it’s worth taking the time to think through where the opportunities exist, what are the gaps that other products in your category are failing to achieve and can they be filled when it comes to your first approach.

Some guideposts

  • Help the buyer to imagine the product performing and adding interest to their aisles. Will they be excited about it, do they need it and does it fill a gap?
  • Put the product into context with photography or 3D pack renders
  • Plot out the in-store customer journey to show how the customer will arrive at your product
  • Are you offering an in-store promotion and how will this be sold in?
  • Will you have any in-store advertising and how will the campaign roll-out in-store if enticing visual displays are part of the campaign

While the core content of your presentation can be the same, take the extra time to tailor each presentation to the relevant retailer. Showing that you’ve taken the time to do research in their stores will earn you brownie points. There’s no bigger turn off for buyers than a presentation that uses in-store imagery or statistics from a competitor retailer.


It’s highly likely that the combined resources of your marketing, branding, trade and sales teams already have some form of relationship/connection with buyers. This often gets overlooked and isn’t explored early on, so get networking as it could increase your chances at the meeting.

Tell a good story – inspire belief

Inspiring belief in products and their potential beyond the shelf is so important at this stage. Take them on a journey with a storybook, an interactive trade box, a problem-solving challenge or a mock taster session. Bring the purpose and story of the product to life in front of them and make it truly magnificent!

  1. Get the flow going: Work out the right structure, composition and sequencing
  2. Customise it: Customise the opportunity e.g. is it a big reveal with a bit of a tease to start with
  3. Distract & surprise: The Powerpoint or Prezzie is likely to be a focus of the meeting, but a relevant distraction and physical presence can be really important. Use this to change the tone and pace using physical supports and props. Keep people awake and hold their attention, like an unfolding thriller sequence. If it helps, storyboard your trade presentation like a play!

Understand the retailer’s consumer

Adding value to the buyer’s sales and marketing plan is key at this point and this can be achieved in the presentation with some enticing infographics showing a clear ROI, supported by an ‘experience’ of the product. Help buyers to visualise the product in-store with a sensory experience – perhaps orchestrating a mock simulation of what it would be like to be a customer to demonstrate your product, its touchpoints and the customer journey relevant to their store.

Get the content in a presentation right

  • The narrative has to work for the audience, not the buyer. Is the tone right?
  • Text needs to be minimised using visual structures to embellish the concept /idea
  • Build a page rather than show everything at once to give more control over what the buyer is seeing
  • Always find a way to convert complex data into meaningful infographics
  • If the subject is a complex one, end every page with a simple subject outtake

Take it to a trade show

You’ve done all the hard work and created an effective side-show. Now, take it on the road! Go to trade events and get even more listings as buyers drift around and get drawn to what they are looking for.


We’re unable to share the secrets of our client’s trade presentations that have won listings, however, HiPP Organic has agreed to show their sell-in kits to inspire other brands.