Should Natural Product Brands Use FDM Retail Channels?

Natural product brands can have a challenging time breaking into new markets. This is especially true when the product is designed in a way that isn’t familiar to the audience. The thing about natural product brands is that one of their key selling points is the fact that they are ethically and organically made, unadulterated by mass production.

So, how does FDM retail placement play a role in all of this? That’s a fundamental question to tackle if you’re contemplating brick-and-mortar retail placements for your products. In some cases, it can be the wrong move because you don’t want to turn people off by presenting your offer beside highly processed alternatives. 

It can devalue your brand, equating it to other, less qualitative options around it. However, the mindset of many mass market shoppers is adjusting in a lot of ways. This is why it’s prudent to consider how FDM product placements could work for your natural products.

In this post, we’re going to walk you through the ins and outs of FDM retail channels. You will learn what they are and their viability for natural brands. 

Let’s go!

What Are FDM Retail Channels?

“FDM,” an acronym for Food, Drug, and Mass. It refers to a broad umbrella of retail channels, including supermarkets, drugstores, and mass merchandisers. 

These outlets are characterized by their extensive reach, diverse product ranges, and high-volume sales. It gets its name simply because food and drugs, along with any mass-produced tangible goods, traditionally get the most audience exposure through large retail insertions; think Walmart, Target, or Costco. 

They play a big part in shaping consumer purchase patterns, offering convenience and variety under one roof. For any brand seeking to expand retail revenue, FDM retail channels create a huge opportunity space for brands looking to scale their market presence and reach a wider audience. 

How Does FDM Pertain to Natural Product Sales?

The whole natural products scene, which includes all the organic, planet-friendly, and health-conscious items, is becoming a bigger priority for consumers, opting to pay a little more for certain products, preferring consumables that are sustainably made while also being healthier to use.

They’re growing more aware of how important health and wellness are and getting serious about taking care of our planet. Due to this, the big retail players are starting to stock more natural products, trying to satisfy the new demands of their shoppers. And why wouldn’t they in this case? If they realize that people will settle for less volume and better quality for a higher price, they’re happy as long as they retain their shoppers’ business.

Why this matters for your natural product brand is for the huge potential sitting on your doorstep. You might be doing well selling products off your website; you may even have an Amazon store. But traditional retail stores are adapting what’s on their shelves to meet the needs of their customers, and that’s the growing demand for products that are ethically made and free of as many additives and toxins as possible. 

How Do You Sell Products Through FDM Sales Channels Like Large Retailers?

Selling through FDM channels requires a strategic and deliberate approach that won’t resemble traditional non-natural solutions. A lot of this will have to be shown to potential buyers via the information you use on your product labels. 

Think about the issue the end-user is trying to solve and the different options they have available to do so. 

For instance, if you’re selling a supplement meant to relieve cold symptoms, you may be going up against over-the-counter, non-natural cold medicines. In the case of most synthesized medications, they’re touted as being fast-acting and effective. While supplements are effective, they aren’t always made with the same levels of concentrated chemicals that pharmaceuticals are made with. In this case, your main bargaining chip will be presenting your supplement as a natural, cleaner alternative to artificial options. 

This also applies to foods! You’ll want to convey how minimalistic the process is for getting your food product through production and into the buyer’s hands.

Here are a few other things to think about when positioning your products on retailer shelves:

  • Understand the Retailer’s Requirements: Each FDM retailer has specific criteria for product listings, packaging, and compliance. Make sure you have a good grasp on these and are obeying their stipulations first. After that, you can get creative with how you promote the benefits of your more holistic solution.
  • Marketing and Promotion Strategy: Work on a marketing strategy that includes in-store promotion advertising and collaborate with the retailers for joint marketing efforts.
  • Negotiation and Pricing Strategy: Be prepared for tough negotiations. Determine your pricing strategy to maintain profitability while being competitive. Additionally, make sure you know the bare minimum you can sell your products for in a retail channel, factoring in markdowns and fees. From there, you’ll know exactly what you can handle.

Should You Sell Natural Products Through FDM Sales Channels?

Deciding whether to sell through FDM channels is a strategic choice that depends on several factors, and there are a lot of moving parts involved in it. 

We recommend you walk through the steps below. They will help determine if FDM promotion is the right approach for your brand in its current state.

  1. Brand Vision and Values: If your brand’s ethos aligns with sustainability and niche markets, consider if FDM channels can maintain this identity. While it may be a big deal to sign an agreement with a major retailer like Walmart, you should request sales data related to the type of products you would be selling. This gives insight to how much the audience at that particular retailer is interested in purchasing your products. 
  2. Production Capacity: FDM channels require consistent supply to meet high demand. You’ll have to ensure your manufacturing arms are ready to meet the output demands of the retailers you partner with. 
  3. FDM Market Research: FDM shelves are competitive. You’ll need to compare aspects of your products against comparable, natural product brands like yours. This will help to determine if you can beat them out. Look at things like their prices and the efficacy and ingredients of their products. Conduct thorough research to understand trends and consumer preferences.
  4. Financial Analysis: Consider the financial implications, including potential returns, necessary investments, and changes in pricing strategy. This can bite pretty hard if you don’t anticipate the amount of lost and unrecoverable product sales from returns. Analyze the cost-benefit ratio with every variable related to pricing and COGS. While FDM channels offer volume sales, they also demand lower price points and higher marketing budgets.
  5. Customer Feedback: Gather feedback from your existing customer base. Understand if your move to FDM channels aligns with their perceptions and expectations of your brand.
  6. Pilot Programs: Lastly, consider starting with pilot programs or smaller FDM retailers. Then you can test the waters and gather insights before a full-scale launch.

Last Thoughts on Natural Product Sales Through FDM Channels

While FDM retail placement offers natural product brands a vast platform for growth and visibility, it requires careful consideration and strategic planning. The last thing you want is to position your products in a retail setting where they can’t compete with the competition. Or worse, that it’s simply not the right environment with the right audience who will purchase your products. 

Assessing brand compatibility, understanding the demands of FDM retailers, and ensuring readiness in terms of production and supply chain are crucial steps worth exploring further. Look around at your direct competition. See if they’ve had a lasting presence in the retailers you’re considering. That could be a strong indication that your natural products can work, too!

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