Greg Seminara, Export Solutions

Each year, Export Solutions fields hundreds of inquiries from brands looking for help finding international distributors. Our readers will not be surprised to hear that each brand owner declares that his product is the “best”. These claims are rarely supported by independent research or focus groups. In reality, shoppers vote at supermarkets every day on the “best brands” with their purchases. Product superiority statements achieve more credibility when validated by professional research . Listed below are 10 key factors to assess when comparing your product performance versus other category participants.

1. Taste/Performance
Taste may appear as an obvious measure of product quality.
However, companies need to recognize that taste preferences
vary by country or region. Product performance for household products or
other non food items is usually easier to quantify.

2. Smell
Smell is an important part of your sensory experience. How does your product smell when the package is opened? What fragrance is emitted when the product is cooked. Is this smell pleasant when combined with traditional food pairings ( i.e. your salad dressing when put on salad)? Fragrance is one of the critical selection criteria  for Household products and Cosmetics.

3. Appearance
Visual is another decisive element of the process. In some categories, packages are transparent providing a window into product appearance. In others, you must open the box or can after purchase to see the contents.  Does the first glance at your product satisfy or disappoint your consumer ?

Savvy shoppers spend more time investigating product labels. As an example, There are hundreds of cereal products on the shelves, all with unique formulations.  Investigation of ingredients of competing products can reveal wide variances in vitamin, fiber, and carbohydrate levels.

5. Health
Every consumer proclaims an interest in “eating healthier”. What are your product benefits  and how do they compare to the competition? Our industry has witnessed skyrocketing demand for organic products,gluten free, and products with lower levels of sugar or salt.

6. Packaging
Packaging is measured by both attractiveness, convenience, and product claim messages. Many consumers do judge a  “Book by its Cover”. Some shoppers  view unattractive packaging as the key barrier to trial for private label products in the USA.

Value is measured by more than price alone. However, most shoppers enjoy a bargain or a brand that offers “more for their money”. Premium pricing strategies are attractive for retailers and brands. However, you must demonstrate tangible value to charge more on a cost per use basis.

8. Presence
Procter & Gamble speaks of the “first moment of truth” when the buyer looks at your product on the shelf for the first time. In the USA, a reported 70 % of purchase decisions are made at the supermarket shelf . How does your product look on the shelf  next to other category players ? Does your brand shine ? Or does it fade into obscurity though an outdated “stock bottle” or packaging that is out of sync with your category ?

9. Sustainability
Sustainability is no longer just  a buzz word promoted by massive industry leaders. Sustainability has emerged as a major selection factor for new product introductions in North America and Europe. Trust me. If you are not heavily focused on sustainability implications now, get started “pronto” if you want to sell to the big retailers in big markets.

10. Competition
Supermarket buyers maintain the luxury of evaluating a parade of category competitors , each touting that their product is “the best”. Companies are logically proud of their products that they sell and the benefits they offer. Successful marketers should look at their brand as a buyer does. Purchase the 5 or 10 other items that compete for the same shelf space. How does your product compare versus attributes #1 – # 9 discussed above? Many brands tout only their product attributes without a fair look at their competitive set.

In every category, one brand must be the best. This vaulted status can be claimed by your brand if you truly deliver a superior product . Why not ?