Pimp My Egg…

Product Review: Crackin’ Egg Co

Snacking is one of the fastest moving and most lucrative categories in food retailing; it’s constantly evolving where we, as consumers, become increasingly time poor and demand a more portable, convenient repertoire.

A cornucopia producers from multinational corporations to startisans have sought for new ways to steal a share of the market. This quest has seen a number of innovations hit the market place over the last ten years with health taking a leading role in terms of the snacking shoppers’ needs. However, as I’ve mentioned before, in this category TASTE IS KING. A successful snacking product needs to be firstly, great tasting and secondly, healthy. The era of Slimming World punishment eating has gone and health conscious shoppers and snackers are making lifestyle changes not short, sharp shocks to the system.

This review presents the ultimate in the cusp of the snacking trend. It takes the uber-convenience of a ready-to-eat boiled egg and pimps it! It is the definition of taste meets convenience.

Here’s what I thought…

Rating: 8/10

Appeals to: gym junkies, health conscious, time-poor snackers

Packaging

I really like the packaging and branding. It’s not over the top but it’s targeted right at the early-adopter target audience with a matte cardboard sleeve that provides good shelf presence when it’s compared to other similar products on the market. The producers have also been careful to call out cues that are important to the snackers they are targeting: low GI, low in carbs, GF. The cleverest thing about the packaging, in my opinion, is the egg itself. Want to grab someone’s attention? Do an Avatar and paint yourself bright blue!

Plus there are some egg-cellent egg-based puns on-pack and who can resist joining a pun-off, even if it’s just for the crack?

Price

£1.59 – now if you sit there and work out the value in comparison to pack of a dozen eggs then you’ll be disappointed, but don’t do that. This price is for two eggs, which is an ample snack. If you compare it to other things being bought as snacks this is bang in-line with where it should be. Plus you can often pick them up on promotion at 2 for £2.50.

Delivery

Brilliant. I am already a fan of hard-boiled egg; whether they’re fresh or pickled I love them and they were a staple of my diet many moons ago when I played sport. However, this is taking them to the next level.

The flavour sachets add a depth to the flavour and lift the fleshy egg textures. There is always a danger that you drown the egg but this has been portioned just right. This is a great substitute for any other mid-afternoon snack and I’d take these over a bland sponge cake any time!

Verdict – in a word, egg-squisite (sorry!)! This is a great example of how fast-paced and alive the snacking category is and Crackin’ Egg Co have fit perfectly into the mould of what people expect: healthy, tasty and convenient. Great work Egg Men!

Northern Munkee.

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Dark, thick and saucy!

Product Review: Salubrious Sauce Company Original British Breakfast Sauce

I love a good table sauce but a really good one is difficult to find. We’ve been conditioned over the years by Warren Buffet’s Heinz (now Kraft Heinz) that tomato ketchup and brown sauce should be thin, lifeless and synthetic but that’s just not true!

There are a number of really brilliant sauces on the market now from companies like Tiptree, Great British Sauce and this one – Salubrious Sauce Co.

I was lucky enough to get hold of a bottle of their Original British Breakfast Sauce that I paired with some Heck Square Sausages (just to ensure I was getting the full British breakfast experience!) and this is what I thought…

Rating: 8/10

Appeals to: people like me that refuse to have the sauce dripped over their eyes when it comes to the real taste of our condiments!

Packaging

The label is simple but does a perfect job and invokes thoughts of provenance, authenticity and quality. The bottle is thick and sturdy like any premium sauce bottle should be.

Price

£4.25 – this is a little steep versus other products doing a similar job but as a rule of thumb the price point should be a quality indicator; this tells you that you’re not getting Daddy’s!

Delivery

This is fantastic and just what I expected. It opens with a sweet tomato flavour that bounces into chunky dark fruits and the spicy notes finish off the palate with a light, tangy lift. Now not many sauces do this but this little flavour has the power to change the profile of the whole plate and it perfectly compliments any meaty breakfast.

Verdict – in a word, saucy! I can understand why you’d settle for less if you’re having a dirty breakfast to cure a hangover at a greasy spoon; anything else you’re just not doing your stomach justice!

Notes from the other side of the desk…

Part 4: The Structure of ‘Yes’!

I have had the pleasure of being a Retail Food Buyer for two years in the Convenience sector in the UK. As a result of the global financial downturn I noticed a dramatic difference in the size of businesses that were coming to see me; the big boys got bigger, the small got smaller and more niche and the middle got squeezed out. This meant that I had the pleasure of meeting with and, in some cases, working with some very young businesses and I really felt like part of their journey. I must admit some of them did a great job, others…not so much! So I thought I’d pull together a short series of blogs based on my experience and, if you’re a young business wanting to crack mainstream retail, I hope this might be a useful read.

The last edition of my monthly serial aimed to afford an insight into the mind of a Buyer considering their KPIs and how they might approach a meeting with a potential new supplier. So now that you have harnessed that insight how do you use it? Remember the easiest answer for a Buyer is always ‘no’, it involves no paperwork, no risk and no sell back into their business. The only time when the ‘yes’ may be a little easier to achieve is if the Buyer has approached you, which, you’ll be surprised to hear, does happen to some jammy sods – but it is a rarity! This month’s insight focuses on the best way to structure your meeting based on some of the highs and lows of my buying career…

I’ve sat through a LOT of supplier presentations and good ones are few and far between, trust me! Some suppliers come armed with just a blank A4 pad and pen, others come with the latest touch screen technology and you get some that offer a neatly bound and printed thesis of a presentation; it takes allsorts and there is no right or wrong in terms of formatting. However a Buyer wants to know that you’re bothered about the meeting and you’ve thought about what your presenting. It’s a great tactic to let your food do the talking but you must make the Buyer feel special. It’s OK not to use a presentation if it doesn’t feel appropriate but it’s not OK to not have a presentation, that’s just lazy. Think about the flow of the meeting. How do you want it to play out? What do you want them to say? What do you want them to think? What do you need to know? If you could get your Buyer to write down three things what would that be? Then think about how you can make that happen. If you structure the meeting and your presentation in the right way your sale will be the natural conclusion. I hate the sales mantra ‘Always be Closing’ – if you’ve consulted, guided and advised you won’t need to close; it will be a no-brainer.

I’ve outlined a simple meeting structure below:

The Art of Questions

I would advise everyone to start a meeting with lots of questions but the problem is that sales people usually love the sound of their own voice; this is partly due to their over zealousness and partly due to their over confidence. Please, apply Pareto’s Law. If you have ever exited a meeting and you’ve done more than 20% of the talking then it probably wasn’t a great meeting! Selling is all about asking the right questions, listening and applying a solution based on what you’ve heard. You may need to change your presentation, or how you spin your presentation, based on the output of these questions but much better to think on your feet than fall flat on your face.

Get Them to Lean Forward

I’m not a body language expert but I know when a Buyer is on the hook and this needs to happen early. You need to engage them from the off so your opening pitch needs to be sharp, rehearsed and meaningful to your Buyer. If you can get them to lean forward and prick their ears up they will hang off your every word for the duration of your pitch.

Set the Scene

Now, I don’t mean spend 15 minutes discussing the macroeconomic environment and the leakages from the British economy but it is important to provide some context and an understanding of the wider marketplace and category. A word of warning here though: don’t be a bore! I’ve endured enough presentations on market overview that were just white noise in the presentation. I’ll explore ways to combat the boredom in future blogs.

Relevant Needs

This is where you’re working towards the natural conclusion. Move the meeting and the pitch from the wider market to your specific customer’s needs. Your Buyer will be concerned with the market and what their competitors are doing but ultimately you’ll only get to ‘yes’ if you make it relevant.

Trusted Advice

This bit is really key and, surprisingly, often omitted from a pitch. You must be clear and specific about what you’re proposing. Relate it back to everything you’ve gleaned previously and it will feel natural and seem logical.

Review

One common exercise in sales training circles is to ask two people to negotiate over something and to reach an agreement. Each party would then regurgitate their understanding of the agreement separately. Rarely do the two agreements marry. So the message here is re-cap, review and re-confirm. You must ensure that you summarise what was discussed and what the actions are; this will save you a lot of heartache. It also gives the Buyer confidence that you have understood their requirements and will deliver what they need.

Structure in a meeting shouldn’t be rigid but it is a framework and there are many ways to approach this. Treat your meeting like a story but just make sure you’re the one writing it and not the Buyer.

Northern Munkee.

Take control:

So what:

Notes from the other side from the desk…

Part 3: Getting to ‘Yes’!

I have had the pleasure of being a Retail Food Buyer for two years in the Convenience sector in the UK. As a result of the global financial downturn I noticed a dramatic difference in the size of businesses that were coming to see me; the big boys got bigger, the small got smaller and more niche and the middle got squeezed out. This meant that I had the pleasure of meeting with and, in some cases, working with some very young businesses and I really felt like part of their journey. I must admit some of them did a great job, others…not so much! So I thought I’d pull together a short series of blogs based on my experience and, if you’re a young business wanting to crack mainstream retail, I hope this might be a useful read.

This instalment of my musings focuses on getting to ‘yes’.
So you’ve managed to get your meeting (tick), you’ve understood the business you’re dealing with (tick), you’ve been thorough and appropriate with your preparation (tick) and you’re as confident as you will ever be (tick tick); is that job done? Nope! Buyers can be fickle, they can be emotional, they can be irrational, they can be disorganised and they can be lazy because they’re all just people. Interactions with a retail buyer can be something that’s shrouded in mystery and potentially demoralizing and demotivating. What I want to do with this post is to offer a peek behind the curtain into the way I would approach a pitch from an artisan supplier, what questions I would ask myself and what my objectives were.
Firstly, and most importantly, I want to try and explain, succinctly, what I was aiming to achieve as a buyer. Put simply, I was aiming to drive as much sales value and profit through the space I had available to me. It’s not rocket science. Extra space meant extra investment, which I didn’t want to spend. So I had to ‘sweat the fixture’ and manage my range to deliver consistently improving profits to make that metre of space more valuable to my business each year. So what sort of things did I need to consider?
Range: was I confident that I offered the right range to cover all the essentials and offer my shoppers something different to ensure that they were loyal to my shops? Unfortunately, if a shopper only buys Heinz Ketchup and I don’t stock it, they will leave to shop somewhere else. So there were some products that I had to stock. I also wanted to excite people with my range and inspire them to spend more money; for example a really great curry sauce could inspire someone to cook a curry tonight and then lead them to also buy a packet of rice, poppadoms, raita, mango chutney, onions, cream, naan breads and some chicken. In that example a £2 jar of curry sauce has just inspired a £15 spend – winning!
Price: this was very important but something that buyers and suppliers can get too easily hung up on. All I needed was the confidence that I wouldn’t be embarrassed by what I saw in the market place and that it would fit within my current range hierarchy. Not all buyers know what their competitors are doing on price but you can be sure if you propose something they’re not familiar with they will check! I also needed to see a strong promotional package. I had seen a number of artisan producers who believed that their product shouldn’t be promoted and it will sell at full value from shelf. It might do at a farm shop but not in mainstream retail. For artisan products, promotions aren’t about trashing prices, they’re about increasing awareness and driving trial. Shoppers are now more savvy than ever but if you can tempt them they’re also adventurous. A shopper is much more likely to try something new if they feel they’re getting more value for money.
Something different: whilst it is important to look sideways at what your competitors are doing, it’s also good to look at what they’re not doing. To be best-in-class I wanted to try new things to give my shoppers something different that wasn’t available anywhere else so, in theory, they’d be loyal shoppers. This ‘something different’ could be anything as simple as a different way of merchandising to a different range or something completely off the wall.
That’s a really superficial, top line view of what I was looking to achieve. However the easiest answer for a buyer is ‘no’; it involves less paperwork, less risk of failure and less cost in clearance. So, how do you make ‘yes’ the easy answer? Well that’s for another blog and another day.
Northern Munkee.