Heinz look for new routes to the consumer

Distribution is one of the least sexy bits of marketing. But I think "route-to-consumer" is one of the most important challenges brands face today. So, its good to see that Heinz are working on finding new retail outlets as part of growing their brands, according to Brand Republic.

As retailers get ever more powerful, many of the brand teams we work with are having their lifeblood strangled out of them. There are increasing demands for promotions and price cuts, and its not unusual in some food categories to have over half the volume sold "on deal". And the recession has seen supermarkets even more aggressively promote the savings of switching from brands to own label alternatives.

Heinz have identified 2 brand opportunities so far:
1. Wyevale Garden Centres, for selling barbecue sauces
2. Mothercare, for selling baby food

These moves have several advantages:
– find new routes to sell more stuff
– present the brand in the right environment to reinforce the brand values
– create a bit of surprize
– promote your brand without competitive clutter

Supermarkets will remain the bulk of business of course. But new channels can help. It can also be a way of getting "paid-for" sampling of new brands, such as Plum Baby babyfood being sold in IKEA cafes, and being on the menu at Luxury Family Hotels.
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Indeed, mastery of distribution and channels is really why Coke are so successful. They are the experts at getting their brand "within arm's reach of desire" through different channels, especially into cafes, hotels and restaurants (CHR). Another drink brand, Pago juice, have gone even further, and built their whole business on leading in this channel in Spain and France. It takes many years to establish yourself in the CHR channel. But once you have the presence, its very hard for you to be replaced.
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Previous posts on route-to-consumer include Quaker porridge in McDonalds and vending, and P&G creating their own online website for selling brands.