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Insights to Accelerate International Expansion
Export Strategy Guide
Our Mission: Help Manufacturers “Spend time Selling to Distributors versus Searching for Distributors”
Strategy 2025 begins with the
simple question of “Where do
you want your business to be
by the end of 2025?” This action
plan should reflect aspirational
goals combined with a realistic
road map. Our Export Strategy
Guide reflects insights and
processes from some of our
industries leading brand
manufacturers from Europe
and the Americas.
Strategy is not a once a year
event. All business development
activities should ultimately
sync with your strategy. The
first step is to review your existing
strategy document. How are you
doing? Based upon 2021 results, are
there adjustments in tactics required?
Export Solutions’ goal is to make life a
little easier for Export Mangers. Our
Export Express newsletter, distributor
database, and other publications
provide a forum for sharing “Best in
Class” learning. The industry can no
longer rely on traditional techniques
for building international businesses.
Increased competition, demanding
global retailers and the emergence of
the internet shopping channel make
dependency on current markets a risky
bet. The future is dependent on our
ability to source new consumers from
outside our home base. This Export
Strategy Guide will stimulate ideas
and discussion for formulating your
strategy to achieve your 2025 business
goals. Export Solutions can help!
Greg’s Guidance: Export Strategy 2025
3 What are your Lessons Learned?
3 What are your Core Competencies?
3 Which countries offer exceptional growth for your category?
3 How much is your company willing to invest?
Marketing, People, Promotion
3 What will our organization need to do differently?
3 What are realistic measures and benchmarks?
In This Issue
Sell to 96 Countries
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covers more than 9,200 distributors in
96 countries. Our database features
extensive coverage of leading food,
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Page 2
Tactical Exports vs. International
Brand Building
Page 9
Plan to Thrive in 2025
Page 17
A New Export Road Map
Page 33
New Country Expansion Prioritization
Page 37
What is Your Perfect Store?
Page 45
USA: Bigger than BRIC?
Page 59
Distributor Types:
Different Experts for Different Situations
Page 68
10 C’s – Cooperation Model
Export Strategy 2025 Business Destination
Tactical Exports vs. International Brand Building
What are your realistic aspirations for a country? There is a big difference between tactical exports
and strategic brand building. Companies can win in smaller countries with an “export only” strategy.
Brand building requires a financial commitment. Either option works. Companies need to align market
ambitions with their investment plans.
Export Brand Building
Market Research None Local consumption habits
Product portfolio Best sellers from home market Tailored to country/region
Packaging Standard packs stickered Native language
Factory Corporate headquarter based Offshore
Marketing Investment
Trade marketing only (10 percent of sales?) TV, 360 marketing 20-30 percent of sales
Retail Pricing Premium to super premium Equal to competitors
Route to Market Distributor Direct team or distributor
Oversight Periodic visits Dedicated country manager
Market Share Ambitions Niche Player
Complexity Low High
Export Countries Brand Building Countries
Middle East USA
Caribbean Western Europe
Malta, Cyprus, Portugal Mexico
Central America China
Hong Kong, Singapore Japan
Taiwan India
Nordics Russia
Baltics Turkey
Chile, Peru, Ecuador Brasil
Segmentation Factors
Segmentation analytics will vary by company. Absolute
population is just one factor warranting consideration. Other
criteria include size of the category, proximity to your producing
plant, as well as per capita spending power. For example, most
USA based exporters sell far more to Puerto Rico, an island with
3.3 million people, than they do to China or Brasil. As a result,
some USA brand owners place a strategic focus on the Caribbean
Basin countries adjacent to the USA and process only occasional
opportunistic shipments to complex countries such as China.
Mix of Countries
Most companies can dedicate focus on a strategic launch into
only one or two “strategic” countries at a time. It’s appropriate
to create a growth plan aimed at a mix of Strategic, Priority, and
Opportunistic countries.
Market Share Expectations
Your export road map should also be adjusted based upon your
market share expectations for a select market. Generally, there
are three scenarios for a brand to pursue.
Leader: Brand investment and innovation to become
#1 in the category.
Player: Brand plans to compete effectively, obtaining a market
share of 5%-20%.
Participant: Niche. Brand objective is incremental shipments
with little/no investment.
Lessons Learned
Calibrate expectations to investments in brand support and
management oversight. Everyone wants to be a category leader
or player. To achieve this lofty status, you need to conduct local
market research, innovate, maintain competitive pricing, invest
in marketing, and align with a strong sales team just as you do in
your home market. Projects fail as certain brands want category
leadership but invest only to “niche” levels.
Strategic segmentation of export opportunities is “Job One” for export managers. Export Solutions divides countries into three gr
Strategic, Priority, and Opportunistic. This approach filters countries by “size of the prize” and investments required to win. The basic
rationale is that a company should allocate different resources to develop a large country like Brasil, compared to a medium size
country like Belgium versus the Bahamas or Bermuda. Too frequently, we see companies handcuff all markets to one export program,
with common strategy, pricing, and investment models for all countries.
Country Segmentation One Size Does Not Fit All
Country Segmentation
Country Profile Investment Required Business Model Examples
Large Country
(pop. 50mm +)
High GDP
High Category BDI
Global Retailers
High Complexity
Significant Investment
in Brand support.
Market Research
Management Visibility
Local Office or
Distributor or
Joint Venture
Mid size Country
(pop. 10 mm+)
High GDP
High Category BDI
Mid Complexity
Moderate investment
in brand support.
Managed by Export
S. Korea/Thailand
South Africa
Saudi Arabia
Low GDP Countries
Low Complexity
Minimal/no investment
in brand support
Distributor or
Direct to Retailer
Central America
Middle East
Export Strategy Road Map
Export strategy is frequently mistaken
as a race to plant flags in as many
countries as possible. Top management
spends too much time reading economic
reports pushing the export department
in the uncertain direction of BRIC
countries while ignoring opportunities
on their doorstep. Exhibitors at Anuga
or ISM act as traders at a Turkish Bazaar
negotiating over terms and conditions
without focus on requirements for “brand
building.” The reality is that export
development is about creating a
sustainable, long term strategy that
can deliver consistent results.
Map to Future
A good strategic plan should be visionary,
conceptual, directional, and compatible
with the company’s overall business goals
for a 3-5 year period. This contrasts with
your annual business plan which
represents a short term operational plan
focused on measurable tactics. A viable
long term strategy identifies megatrends,
addresses important challenges, and
creates new sources of advantage.
Strategy requires making business
choices, including tough decisions on
which countries to enter, the right brands
to support, and where to allocate
company resources.
Lessons Learned
The first step is to conduct a “Lessons
Learned” analysis. This fact based study
should detail current metrics by country.
Evaluate sales per capita, market share,
profit margin, and three year sales history.
Results should be segmented by country
size and distance from your producing
facility as well as “route to market”
model. Export Solutions recommends
a second stage “20/20” analysis where
you look at all market metrics and you
separate the “Top 20%” performers
versus the “Bottom 20%” performers.
What are common characteristics in
the countries where you are winning?
Are there similarities in markets where
your company is “under- performing?”
A solid Lessons Learned analysis guides
our strategic choices for your new
export strategy.
Core Competencies
What does your company do well? Which
product categories, services, or regions do
you outperform your competitors and
drive category value? What factors
distinguish your company from other
category performers? Your strategy
should sync with segments where you
maintain a sustainable advantage.
Export strategies can be doomed from
the start when lofty business ambitions
are not matched by realistic investment
levels to meet desired objectives.
Investment comes in many forms:
research, marketing, trade promotion
and most importantly, human resources
dedicated to a project.
Strategy – OGSM
One approach that encompasses both the
strategic and operational aspects of the
business is “OGSM.” OGSM stands for
the process of developing a document
outlining “Objectives, Goals, Strategies,
& Measures.” This “plan on a page”
provides a clear and concise guide to
your expectations. OGSM serves as a vital
link between long term strategy and short
term business demands.
Successful international development
strategies reflect a focus on a narrow
band of countries and activities. Industry
leaders such as P & G, Nestle, and Barilla
typically dedicate substantial resources
to the ten countries that account for 60%
of their business. This approach must
cultivate a mix of established markets
with “new frontier” markets which offer
exceptional potential. This does not
advocate ignoring smaller markets and
opportunities. It signals a message that
not all markets should be treated alike
with similar programs and resource
allocation. I remember a client whose
Latin America business had been
stagnant. My analysis revealed that his
area manager devoted his time to
customers in Central America and
Caribbean with minimum energy
dedicated to Mexico, a market with
135 million people, but tough to
penetrate. The new strategy committed
to exponential growth in Mexico, with
the manager spending 50% of his time
in Mexico. End result was Mexico
business doubling!
Export Solutions Can Help!
Export Solutions has participated in
more than 400 international development
projects on five continents. We frequently
provide guidance for export strategy
development as well as validating
proposed plans. Our export strategy
templates can be rapidly adapted to fit
brands for any supermarket category.
Customer feedback suggests that Export
Solutions strategy insights can save you
time, money, and “wasted” effort. Contact
Greg Seminara at (001) 404-255-8387 or
A big difference exists in export strategy for SMCG (Slow Moving Consumer Goods) and companies committed
to FMCG Brand Building (Fast Moving Consumer Goods). Either model is okay. Many companies are en route
between SMCG and FMCG. Alignment between aspiration, investment, and perspiration drives realistic outcomes.
Export Journey: SMCG to FMCG
Aspirations Niche Participant Mass/Leader
Homesick Upscale Local
None Nielsen Consumer
Best sellers from
home market
Best sellers from
home market
Tailored to region
or country
Standard packs stickered Multilingual
Local language label
and pack size
Corporate HQ Corporate HQ Offshore
Super Premium Premium Competitive
None Sampling, Digital
360 Plans
TV, Digital
Trade Spend
None 10-20% Discount
Ad, Display
20-30% Discount
Route to Market
Niche distributor Mid -size distributor
Mass distributor or
Country Focus
Homesick Expats
Mid-size countries
plus USA
All countries
USA, China, Brasil
Homesick Expats
All channels
1 visit/year from HQ Regional manager Dedicated country manager
Low Moderate High
Export Strategy Road Map Template
What are your business ambitions for the time period?
What factors have contributed to export success?
What situations have led to export disappointments?
What countries represent your top 20% performers? Why?
What countries represent your bottom 20% performers? Why?
What is your competitive advantage?
Why is your brand unique versus international competitors?
What are the biggest export opportunities for your company?
What represent high percentage, profitable opportunities?
What is your investment model? Marketing, Promotion, People.
What alternatives are available?
One page plan defining Objectives, Goals, Strategy, Measures
What activities are required to achieve desired results?
What are realistic measures and benchmarks?
Countries Brands Partners
Strategic Priority Opportunistic
Lessons Learned
20/20 Analysis
Core Competencies
Big Opportunities
Low Hanging Fruit
Strategic Options
Strategic Plan
Strategy questions? Contact Greg Seminara at Export Solutions (001)-404-255-8387
Americas Favorite Brands
Executive Board
Export Solutions Smuckers Tabasco
Greg Seminara, CEO Danny Berrios, President Megan Lopez, Vice-President
General Mills Sun-Maid
Eric Saint-Marc Carsten Tietjen
Advisory Board
Bazooka Candy Blue Diamond Bob’s Red Mill
Santiago Ricaurte Dale Tipple Jan Chernus
Bush Beans Campbells Church & Dwight
Dave Bauman Julio Gomez Arun Hiranandani
Ferarra Candy Heartland Idahoan
Daniel Michelena Tom Theobald Ryan Ellis
Johnsonville Sausage Kao USA Keurig Dr. Pepper
Cory Bouck Julie Toole Billy Menendez
Mizkan Reynolds Welch’s
Noel David Chris Corey Marc Rosen
19 Companies | 200+ Top Brands | $80 Billion Combined
View our activities for export managers – www.usafoodexport.com
‘Tis the season for business reviews. Most
of us will dust off last year’s presentation,
update the charts, and supply conservative
estimates on why this year’s 10% export
shipment increase won’t be repeated. Impress
your executive team with some hot new
charts and Lessons Learned analysis for your
business review document. Leadership tends
to display laser focus on “just the numbers.”
Tremendous business intelligence can be
gained through a structured review of Lessons Learned: what’s working,
what’s not, and what needs to change.
Listed below are a few hot button topics to include in this year’s review.
1. Business transition from Established markets to “ New Frontiers.
Export Solutions segments markets into three groups: Established Countries (mature),
Developing (Growing Countries, low per capita sales) and New Frontiers (new/future
markets). How does your business split by these three groups? What are the trends?
This is a key measure for multinationals.
2. BRIC Performance
Shipments alone do not tell the whole story. Look at per capita consumption, percent
distribution penetration, market share, and geographic reach. Extend approach to other
high potential countries such as Indonesia, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia.
3. Global Retailers
Walmart, Carrefour, Amazon, Auchan, Casino and Costco exhibit strong growth trends
outside their home markets. Compare your progress with global retailers versus the
balance of the markets. What retailers and countries are leading the way? Why? What’s
working? Sales through local distributors or direct shipments?
4. Shipments versus GDP
An important metric is shipment performance compared to a countries GDP benchmark.
Flat shipment levels in struggling countries such as Italy, Spain, or Portugal may reflect
better organizational results than a 5-10% increase in booming areas such as China or India.
5. 20/20 Analysis
Markets tend to be judged by the same standards. Look at countries ranked in your
top 20% in shipment performance. What are the common threads and Lessons Learned?
Are leaders all in the same region, distributor sold, high investment, or have more
competitive pricing? Similarly, do the bottom 20% of your markets experience common
characteristics? Remember, there is no shame in admitting “problem” markets. All
brands feature a regional mix of high achievers and low performing markets. Consistent
under performers limit our ability to meet and exceed our own personal objectives.
6. Pricing, Promotion, and Proximity
Brand results are directly proportional to your fundamental investments in competitive
pricing and brand building. Can you cluster markets based upon price gaps versus local
competition? Is there a correlation between high spend markets and results? Is promotion
paying out? Some of our industries’ greatest international success stories result when the
brand moves to local manufacture through their own plant, joint venture, or contract packer.
Involve your distributors in the process. Normally, a one-two page template requesting
feedback will reveal critical, market based insights. Create a culture of sharing positive
success stories. All sales forces are competitive and want to be identified as the source of
the next great idea.
Greg Seminara
“Spend Time Selling to Distributors versus Searching for Distributors”
Lessons Learned
Strategic Services
Contact Us for
Export Solutions
1. Identify Best in Class
Distributors: 96 Countries
2. Best Practices
Export Strategy
3. Distributor Management
4. Export 101:
Let’s Get Started
5. New Market
and Launch Plan
6. Personal Distributor
96 Countries
7. Walmart International
8. Distributor Contracts,
Margins, and Fees
9. Meeting Speaker
10. International
Strategy Expert
Strategic Services
Contact Us for
Export Solutions
1. Identify Best in Class
Distributors: 96 Countries
2. Best Practices
Export Strategy
3. Distributor Management
4. Export 101:
Let’s Get Started
5. New Market
and Launch Plan
6. Personal Distributor
96 Countries
7. Walmart International
8. Distributor Contracts,
Margins, and Fees
9. Meeting Speaker
10. International
Strategy Expert
How big will your international business be in 2025?
A successful global strategy reflects a realistic mix of
aspiration and investment. The road to 2025 contains speed
bumps, with a probablity of recessions, currency fluctuations,
and a precipitous decline in sales through conventional
supermarkets. The good news remains that more of the
world’s 8 billion consumers will live better and eat healthier.
This will stimulate demand for the added value food,
beverage and personal care brands we produce. One fact
remains indisputable: international development will
dominate as the primary growth engine for all mid- to
large-sized consumer focused companies.
E-Commerce Disruption
How large will e-commerce become? Can you envision a
world where e-commerce accounts for twenty percent of sales
and that Amazon appears as your top customer? How will
you restructure your business to optimize sales through
online retailers? A logical first step is to select an e-commerce
channel champion and treat Amazon as a major global key
account like Walmart or Carrefour. Another initiative involves
rethinking your packaging strategy to supply selling units
that are “post friendly” and can be mailed cost effectively.
Companies will hire armies of data analysts to research online
purchasing habits and apply the insights to products sold
through brick & mortar. No physical space limitations appear
in cyberspace, encouraging brands to expand their product
portfolio and test options without the physical handcuffs
of shelf space and listing fees. Hire young people to lead
the cultural shift from marketing through supermarket
showrooms to menu based marketing choices from Amazon.
China Syndrome
The food industry spent the last ten years chasing futile
BRIC dreams in China and India. The expensive conclusion
indicates that it is difficult to convince Asian consumers to
change their meal habits to incorporate western staples like
breakfast cereal and pasta. The reality reveals that Asians
achieved better success at exporting their Chinese, Thai,
Japanese, Indian, and Korean food to us than we have in
converting them. Credit confectionery and snack, personal
care, and Starbucks as rare examples of western categories
achieving success. Asia will account for sixty percent of the
world’s mouths in 2025, including 2.8 billion people in China
and India. The Asian solution is to adapt our product recipes
to meet Asian taste profiles or to acquire Asian companies
as a platform to build critical mass.
Established, Developing, Pioneer
A critical decision revolves around resource allocation
between three market clusters.
Established markets represent the historical base business,
accounting for the bulk of sales and “paying the light bills.”
In these countries growth rates exceeding five percent are
challenging without buying market share in flat categories.
Developing countries are attractive green sprouts where you
have planted seeds of presence and are beginning to gain
traction. These countries may offer the largest potential
source of new revenue. However, brand owners must
acknowledge the initial progress and transition your route
to market model and thinking from “niche exports” to mass
market player to optimize results.
continued on next page
Plan to Thrive in 2025
Pioneer countries emerge as large markets like the USA
(for Europeans), China, or Brasil where your company claims
sales, but fails to register meaningful market share. Success
in pioneer countries requires significant investment to build
your brand “The Right Way” (see page 24 chart).
Boots on the Ground
How many members of your export team are based outside
your home country? In the 2000’s, exporters managed from
headquarters, with roving missionaries swooping in for a
distributor meet and greet, store check, collect your frequent
flier miles, and off to the next stop. In the 2010’s, producers
established regional hubs in comfortable expat locations
such as Dubai, Singapore, and Miami for Latin America.
Today, success in important countries like Mexico, Saudi
Arabia, and Indonesia will be directly proportional to the
size of your market based team. Best in class distributor’s
energy is focused against brands with local management
oversight, leaving little bandwith for companies that show
up once a year.
Digital Distributor
Winning distributors will invest to create deep capabilities
serving e-commerce customers and facilitate the transition to
digital marketing. Owners will need to source new logistics
solutions for e-commerce and redefine the brand manager
role to pursue excellence in deploying social media strategies.
If they cannot adapt, old school distributors may retain
responsibility for the shrinking supermarket channel, while
a new modern breed of distributors handles the high growth,
e-commerce business.
ESG Strategy
New consumers will support brands with a well articulated
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy.
Walmart recently shared a ninety four page update on their
scorecard progress. Unilever reported that their purpose led,
sustainable living brands were growing 69% faster than the
rest of the business and delivering 75% of company growth.
“Better for you, better for the environment” brands will enjoy
bright prospects for international expansion. New data
transparency tools will allow consumers to compare labels
and ingredients instantly online or in-store.
Private Label vs. Personal Label
European and Northern American retailers boosted profit
margins while sacrificing sales per unit through aggressive
private label expansion strategies. For many reasons, private
label development remains low in new markets of Asia,
Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. The explosion of
e-commerce presents further challenges to private label,
as consumers will appreciate a broader selection of
competitively priced brands to choose from. A new
initiative could be the development of “Personal Label”
products where a consumer may enjoy more options in
adapting a product to meet their individual specifications.
Road Ahead
What changes will you make to your 2025 road map?
Smart exporters source clues from global trends and apply
to their planning model. Looking for strategies to thrive in
2025? Export Solutions can help!
continued from previous page
Plan to Thrive in 2025
5 Critical Questions to Thrive in 2025
1. Are we willing to pursue international acquisitions?
2. Would your company consider overseas contract packing (versus export)?
3. Can we test a high spend investment plan (“The Right Way”) in a strategic country?
4. Would your company invest aggressively in offshore head count in advance of sales?
5. Europeans: can we develop the USA market implementing the USA playbook?
USA factory, broker network, competitive pricing, USA team, channel strategy,
30-50% trade promotions?
Need a hand? Visit www.exportsolutions.com.
2025 is three short years away. The world
will add another billion citizens, with
over 80% of them born in Asia and Africa.
Consumer marketers will likely focus on
the “next billion” consumers, a group of
one billion middle class citizens living in
developing nations. Everywhere people
will eat healthier and live better with
more access to the brands we produce.
Technology will revolutionize our
business, with tools that are waiting
to be invented tomorrow. It is easy to
foresee a future which includes more
online purchases, home delivery, product
info sharing, and brand personalization.
As the countdown to 2025 begins, now is
a good time to evaluate our strategies and
brainstorm about the road ahead.
Asia Pivot
Asia will contain almost 2/3 of the
world’s population and “mouths.” Global
GDP will shift, with Asia’s share surging
towards 40%, equivalent to the USA and
Western Europe combined. A key
industry challenge will be the number of
marketers willing to invest to build new
eating habits with Asian consumers.
Currently, there are success stories with
Coca Cola and Starbucks leading the way
in the beverage category. There is also
strong acceptance of European and USA
confectionery and snack products. Other
categories are undeveloped, with
companies choosing a path of
opportunistic exports versus required
investments in market research, adapted
products, and local factories. Asia will
evolve from just another export region
to the key to future growth and profits.
India & China: Dynamic Duo?
Tough to underestimate the 2025
importance of two countries that may
total almost 3 billion people. It’s doubtful
that India will leapfrog China as an
economic power. However, their
population gap will narrow significantly,
with the stage set for India to emerge
as the world’s most populous country
by 2035. China will be viewed as an
established market, with more national
brands, retailers, and commercial
structure. India is the world’s great
enigma. Will it finally break free from
its protectionist handcuffs and emerge as
the ultimate growth market? Or remain
glued to its current path of country
development in their own independent
manner? A broader question could relate
to a China-India alliance that could shift
dominance of global economic policy
from the West to the East.
Meet the VIP’s
Vietnam, Indonesia, and Philippines
represent high growth countries with
population exceeding half a billion people
by 2025. This decade will likely see these
southeast Asian “tigers” graduate from
emerging market status to more
significant sources of growth. Malaysia
also fits in this cluster, with a projected
population increase to 42 million. I like
Myanmar as a new market. 57 million
people, low cost of entry, and very early
in the development cycle.
Middle East: All About the Oil
2025 population will exceed 500 million
in the region, with population growth
maintaining its positive upward
trajectory. Egypt’s population will
approach 110 million and Iran’s may
surpass 90 million. Stability in Iraq would
result in an important new market with a
population increase from 35 million today
to 46 million. As always, countries with
oil like Saudi Arabia and GCC nations
will surpass countries without the
mineral resources. A big question is
the evolution of alternate supplies and
sources of energy. Current oil pricing
levels are creating short term problems.
Longer term, higher prices are required
to sustain development.
What About Africa?
Will Africa’s fragmented market of one
billion citizens be “too big to ignore?”
Will the next 10 years represent the era
when global marketers finally aim their
budgets at the last frontier? Partially.
I think that multinationals and forward
thinking Chinese and Brazilian
companies have identified Africa as a
high priority region. Companies with
long term horizons will find rewards in
Africa. My guess is that some exporters
will discover Africa, but businesses will
remain in their infancy by 2025.
USA: Discover the Americas
The world’s number 2 economy will be
a vibrant force in 2025, with population
growth of 24 million to 344 million
people. The USA’s Latino population
The World in 2025
continued on next page
The World in 2025
will exceed 70 million people, 20% of
the population. Mexico and Brazil will
remain giants, validating the need
to commit to serious plans for these
countries. Other Latin American countries
such as Colombia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador,
and Central America are all expected to
enjoy positive momentum. These markets
are especially attractive for Made in the
USA and brands from Spain.
Europe = Flat
Experts predict that European population
will be flat, with ambitious targets
stretching to 1% growth over the ten year
period. Importantly, existing population
is aging, with marketers forced to grapple
with consequences of dealing with a
consumer base at retirement age.
European brands are viewed as high
quality and desirable by increasingly
affluent consumers in developing
markets. Successful European companies
will be those that can shift balance of their
business dependency from the declining
“continent” to new Asian markets.
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Congo,
and Iran
These countries are not for novice
exporters. For most companies, allocation
of resources to accomplish more in China,
USA, Mexico, and Brazil is a better
decision than rushing to plant small flags
in these risky countries. On the other
hand, multinationals with deep pockets
and long term horizons should consider
these markets. Send a company
missionary, hire a local team, expect the
worst and appear pleasantly surprised
when it works out.
21st Century Distributors
Outsourcing will continue as a preferred
route to market option for international
manufacturers. At the end of the day,
companies want to own the brand equity
and are content to outsource distribution
and in some cases production. This allows
them to focus on investments in brand
building versus infrastructure,
particularly in new markets.
Successful distributors will emerge as
category/sector experts versus generalists
involved in many aisles. Distributors
must expand their added value services,
leveraging their unique ability to serve as
custodians of your brand from port of
entry to supermarket shelf. Challenge
your distributors to refine their models to
accommodate exponential growth in the
online retail channel. Today’s distributor
model may be extinct. However, the 2025
distributor service organization can thrive
as an outsourcing solution.
2025 Strategy – Export Solutions
In 2021, I completed projects in 25
countries across five continents. This
provides a unique, “close to supermarket
shelf” perspective on international
development. In addition, each year, we
choose to work with 1-2 strong European
companies on taking their USA business
to the next level. Looking to create your
2025 international development strategy?
Export Solutions can help! Contact Greg
Seminara in Atlanta, Georgia.
continued from previous page
10 Growing Countries
Brazil 215 230 +15
China 1,448 1,468 +20
Ethiopia 115 125 +10
India 1,402 1,450 +48
Indonesia 278 292 +14
Mexico 135 145 +10
Nigeria 214 230 +24
Pakistan 227 240 +13
Philippines 112 120 +8
USA 333 344 +11
5 Countries: Flat/Declining Population
Germany 84 84 0
Italy 60 60 0
Japan 125 123 -2
Russia 146 144 -2
Ukraine 44 41 -3
Successful export managers can be
compared to roulette experts. You need
to spread your bets around many
countries in order to achieve your
sales budget. Winning reflects luck
in the countries where you place big
investments and avoiding high risk
regions. Export Solutions has recently
completed projects in 31 countries across
5 continents: China, Philippines, Brasil,
Mexico, UK, Russia, and of course,
the USA. There’s lots of potential new
business if you know where to look.
The “loud” conclusion is that most
brands should consider an Asian pivot
focusing on high growth countries with
large populations and expanding middle
class. This includes priority countries like
China and southeast Asian Tigers like
Indonesia, but also Saudi Arabia and
is “Bigger than BRIC” for international
brands. Favorable exchange rates make
this an excellent time for international
brands to invest in taking their USA
business to the next level.
Country Segmentation Definitions
All countries are not created equal, with
population and GDP representing just
starting points. Category development,
retail fragmentation, and cost of entry
also signify key filters. Historically,
Export Solutions’ one page strategy
grids have segmented countries into three
groups. First, Strategic countries such as
China, India, and Mexico that boast large
populations and require focused
investments in marketing and human
resources. A second group of countries
is identified as Priority countries. Priority
countries are mid-size, with populations
between 10-50 million and require more
modest levels of investment and
management oversight. Our third
group can be considered Opportunistic
countries. These are small countries
which can be important profit generators
with minimum resources deployed.
Crawl, Walk, Run, Wait, Halt
Export Solutions is adding five
incremental segments to assess market
potential. Crawl, Walk, Run, Wait, and
Halt refine our market development
recommendations based upon
commercial realities of the countries
today. These comments reflect the
position the countries may be in the
development curve combined with
current economic and retail dynamics.
Crawl countries are markets where it’s
time to get started! This may include an
initial market assessment and a small first
order. Crawl countries have an emerging
retail structure supported by a network
of professional distributors. The objective
in crawl countries is to establish a brand
presence, gain learning, and secure some
first mover advantage benefits before the
“rest of the crowd” arrives and listing fees
escalate. Maintain modest expectations,
even in giant countries like India.
This signals a second phase in country
development. It is likely that your brand
has already established a beach head and
may be experiencing impressive year
on year results from a small base. These
countries warrant more attention and
investment. In the walk phase, you
may change your partner from a small
distributor who is really a “buyer” to
a more powerful partner capable of
building your brand at another level.
Philippines, Indonesia, Colombia, and
Saudi Arabia are all excellent examples
of “Walk” countries.
Now is the time for brands to invest in
these high potential countries. China and
the USA (foreign brands) top the list of
strategic countries where your senior
management must commit to incremental
resources. This includes local teams,
small factory (or copacker/jv), research,
and marketing investments. Evaluate
your China and USA shipments and
validate that you are content with your
current shipment trajectory. More than
likely, you will need to revise your
strategic plan to better access these
benchmark countries. The Gulf, Korea,
and Panama are smaller countries that
offer exceptional growth opportunities.
I am a big believer in Brasil. However,
the current recession coupled with
existing market complexities make Brasil
a country for only the most seasoned
multinationals to compete. Africa’s one
billion citizens represent the last, great
untapped consumer market for most
consumer brands. Each month, I receive
two types of calls on Africa. The first
requests help, as no one seems to have
cracked the code. The second type of call
relates to another diversion problem from
Nigeria, Kenya, or Ghana. I never receive
calls on any success stories. South Africa
is the exception, a “Crawl” or “Walk”
country for most.
Newspapers and financial indicators
accurately identify these countries. Some
exporters with “poor eyesight” continue
to pursue these countries despite the
obvious risks. This month, I took a call
from a mid-size Italian company, where
the export manager had lost his job over
a $400,000 default from a well known
Russian distributor. I recently completed
a $20 million project for Argentina where
the big issue was not brand building
capabilities but access to capital and
ability to clear foreign goods through
customs. Most hope that the fourth
Crawl, Walk, Run, Wait, Halt!
continued on next page
Crawl, Walk, Run, Wait, Halt!
quarter election results in Argentina will
break down protectionist import barriers
and resume normal trade with one of my
favorite countries.
What About Europe?
Most European producers find Europe
excruciatingly difficult, let alone the
possibility for premium foreign brands
to enter. Opportunities always exist in
Europe, particularly for innovative
brands or pursuing ethnic channels like
the market for “Made in the USA” or
Asian products. However the high cost
of entry in Europe coupled with declining
populations signals that you will likely
enjoy a higher ROI elsewhere. Proceed
cautiously and profitably!
Next Steps
The Crawl, Walk, Run, Wait, Halt
assessment model provides a framework
for all exporters. However, actual grid
output may will vary for each company
based on brand dynamics and existing
export footprint. For example, Mexico or
Philippines may be “Run” countries for
certain USA brands, but less important
for European companies. I would argue
that China and USA development focus
would be a long term “Gamechanger”
for most companies. Please excuse our
pessimism on “Wait” and “Halt”
countries, as it is our hope that these
important countries recover to create new
business in the future. Export Solutions
works in 96 countries, with relevant field
based, insights based upon projects for
many mid-large size USA and European
brands. Contact Greg Seminara at
gseminara@exportsolutions.com to
help you define your Export Strategy
Road Map.
Country Segmentation
(*actual country input will vary by brand)
Brasil, India, Russia
Vietnam, South Africa,
Myanmar, Cuba, Sri Lanka,
Indonesia, Mexico
Philippines, Malaysia,
Saudi Arabia, Colombia
Guatemala, Bolivia, Ecuador
USA, China South Korea, Taiwan, Peru Gulf, Israel, Panama, Costa Rica
Africa Argentina, Turkey, Iran Libya
Ukraine, Venezuela Yemen
continued from previous page
200 Free Articles
Export Strategy
Distributor Management
Export Lessons Learned Template
Why are Countries Leading or Lagging?
(Complete based upon your company performance)
Country Performance:
Measure: sales per capita
Brand Development:
Measure: market share
Biggest Opportunity
Measure: category size/growth
Promotion Effectiveness:
Tactics creating incremental sales
Distributor Performance:
Measure: sales increase,
Does Your Distributor Network Need A Check Up?
Export Solutions Can Help!
Distributor Network Assessments
Motivational Speeches
International Strategy
Find Distributors in 96 Countries
Contact Greg Seminara at gseminara@exportsolutions.com or (001)-404-255-8387.
Exporters manage distributor networks extending to 20, 50, 70 countries or more!
Every company has a few distributors that under perform.
“Under achievers” prevent us from attaining our personal objectives.
Distributor Network Check Up
Independent assessment from Export Solutions
Establish methodology for ranking Best in Class distributors and “Laggards”
Supply strategies for recognizing top distributors
and upgrading the bottom performers
Benchmark external brands from your category
Practical and “action oriented” approach
Consider a revision to your country
prioritization map as your 2022 New
Year’s resolution. All industry players
identify international expansion as a
primary growth engine. However, most
companies remain anchored to the past,
with resources devoted to managing
“old businesses in mature countries.”
Real progress can be achieved through
research and investment to multiply your
sprouting sales in flourishing regions of
Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
This requires a tricky balancing act of
maintaining your existing business base
while shifting focus to far flung markets.
Move From Your Backyard
Most USA companies count on
neighboring Canada, the Caribbean,
and Central America for the bulk of their
export sales. This is natural, given the
proximity to producing plants and
familiarity with “Made in the USA”
products. Similarly, experienced
European exporters have cultivated
strong businesses in adjacent European
countries. “Border” businesses are a
logical first export step. Nearby countries
tend to be easier to manage and may
share comparable eating and lifestyle
habits. In many cases, these businesses
were optimized many years ago.
Committed companies must place serious
new stakes in the ground in distant
markets outside your comfort zone if you
desire to obtain more than your fair share
of future industry expansion.
Export vs. Strategic Brand Building?
I frequently raise the question of “What
does it take to build a brand in your home
country?” during my export speeches and
workshops. The consistent responses
focus on the fundamentals of research,
adaption to local tastes, in-country
production, well connected sales team,
and investments in consumer marketing
and trade activities. This approach is
often at conflict with export reality.
Export tactics involve shipping a
standard package from your home plant
with a modest investment and hoping
for brand acceptance in a foreign country.
Winners have the ability to bridge the gap
between strategic brand building and
opportunistic exports.
Regional Hub Model
Successful companies understand that
you need to get close to the consumer and
your customers. Advanced suppliers have
already established regional sales offices
in places like Singapore, Panama, or
Dubai. One model is to extend this
concept to create regional manufacturing
centers. This can be achieved through
a new factory, contract packer, or
acquisition of a local category competitor.
These regional hubs can export to
adjacent countries. General Mills and
Heinz are two of the most successful
multinationals in Brazil. Both acquired
local food companies and leveraged
this platform to sell their international
product portfolio. Recently, Pringles
opened a new plant in Malaysia.
New Flavors, Small Packs
Eating habits and practices are different
in emerging markets. Portion sizes are
smaller and a meal may feature many
dishes. How well does your product pair
with rice (or beans)? Candy and Snack
products are the exception, with a
universal acceptance for most “sweet
segments.” In every country, upscale
shoppers exist, hungry for foreign brands
at any price. While this is your initial
target market, you ultimately need to
reach the masses with products in sync
with their cuisine. Affluent western
shoppers fill shopping carts with large
sizes to store in kitchen pantries.
Emerging market consumers shop daily,
allocating limited funds to purchase
essential food items. International
marketers need to consider small sizes
with affordable price points to be relevant
in low GDP countries like the VIP’s
(Vietnam, Indonesia, & Philippines).
Commit to One Country
Too many export programs aim to plant
small flags everywhere. This does not
impress anyone if you’ve created a
handful of minor businesses, particularly
in large, high potential countries. Better
idea is to identify one country with
superior growth prospects. Study the
market and commit financial and “human
capital” to the country. Encourage senior
management and functional team
leadership visibility to the project.
Set 3, 5, and 10 year objectives, as these
investments will not pay out in the short
term. I recently helped one of my forward
thinking clients study 17 potential
expansion countries. “Crawl, Walk, Run.”
2022 Hot Markets
Many global citizens continue to live
better and eat better. This expanding
middle class creates new potential
consumers for our brands. Asia contains
4.5 billion people, more than 61% of the
world’s mouths. China and the VIPs
continued on next page
A New Export Road Map
New Export Road Map
Current Top
Export Markets
New Export Focus Hot Countries
USA Brands
Central America
Latin America
China, SE Asia
Middle East
Mexico, Colombia
China plus VIPs
Saudi Arabia UAE
European Brands
North Africa
USA China, SE Asia
Middle East
USA, Mexico
China plus VIPs
Saudia Arabia, UAE
A New Export Road Map
represent the best potential, with India a target for those further
along the development curve. Latin America population now
exceeds 600 million with GDP larger than the UK, Japan, and
India combined. Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia are strategic
countries where all brands should be performing at much
higher levels. The Middle East reflects a dynamic marketplace,
particularly in the oil rich nations of Saudia Arabia, UAE,
Qatar, and Kuwait. Population totals more than 300 million
and is growing exponentially through birth rates and
expatriate workers. These markets offer attractive long
term return on investment versus trying to mine new sales
from declining countries.
USA – Bigger than BRIC’s
The USA features a population of 333 million relatively affluent
consumers. USA citizens are open to cuisines from around the
world. A typical American diet would include Italian, Asian, and
Mexican food. Most international companies sell in the USA, but
per capita sales levels are small relative to potential. The issue
relates to the practice of treating the USA as another “export
market.” Success requires a USA based manager and a hybrid
organization including channel specific “Food Brokers.”
Consider construction of a small factory or a contract packer.
Be prepared to invest in consumer and trade programs, just
as you would in your home market.
Export Solutions Can Help
Our distributor identification services completed more than
300 distributor search projects on five continents. This year,
we’ve helped brands find distributors in tough to access
countries like Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Export Solutions has the unique ability to leverage the power of
our distributor database with prospective distributor candidates.
Our leading distributor database covers 96 countries and more
than 9,200 distributors and importers of supermarket products.
This includes more than 2,713 confectionery and snack
distributors. Our database has been recognized for excellent
coverage of emerging markets such as India, Brazil, and Mexico.
Contact us to learn more about how Export Solutions can
leverage our distributor contacts for your benefit in 2022.
continued from previous page
3 7 Billion people live outside Europe and North America! Everyone eats!
3 Follow Global Retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco, Metro
3 USA Opportunity is “Bigger than BRIC” for most international brands
3 How do you win in your home market?
Apply the same principles to large foreign markets: Research, international factories, local
teams, plus investment in Marketing and Trade support
3 Best way to predict distributor success is to evaluate in store visibility for his current brands
3 Big difference between having “any distributor” and a “Best in Class” partner
Greg's Guidance: New World New Business
How do you forecast for 2022? Most
companies approach cautiously, anxious
to accelerate international expansion, but
hesitant to over commit until it’s safe.
Fortunately, it’s a good time to be in the
food and consumer goods industry. Our
retail customers captured sales lifts averaging
+10% versus 2020. As the vaccination line
creeps forward, we all face the core question
of where to play and how to win in 2022.
Green = Gold
Retailers looking to refresh their assortment
seek brands that demonstrate credible
environmental benefits. Aligning with your
customers’ ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) platform
is good for the planet and positive for your business prospects. A
key initiative is to translate your companys strong commitment to
ESG in your home country to your global partners.
Digital Marketer: #1 Hire
Social media is an effective and efficient way to market to
overseas consumers. Influencers, Facebook marketing, and
YouTube videos are now standard tactics. Exporters’ top hires
should boost your international digital marketing team.
Distributors need help with proven strategies and content to
execute locally. Distributors must also join the digital party,
hiring young people to lead their efforts.
No Copy/Paste: Trade Promotion
Exporters repeat the same boring “price off” trade promotions
year after year. The world has changed, with supermarket chains
looking for creative special offers tailored to their customers, not
the general market. Try something new!
USA: Bigger than BRICs
Most international brands claim sales to USA, but market share
is always tiny compared to potential. USA is wide open to world
food. Our retailer database tracks 370 USA customers, all looking
for unique new food items. The path forward requires that
brands play by USA rules with brokers, slotting fees, and
promotion discounts, supported by a country manager. Don’t
forget Canada – an attractive country with 38 million people.
Middle East is Hot
The price of oil surged in the last twelve months and could
move higher with a post pandemic recovery – good news for
oil rich nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Qatar.
These countries were proactive and obtained vaccines early.
Saudi Arabia is always the big prize with a population of 35
million, bigger than the other GCC countries combined. Regional
tourism outlook is favorable with Expo Dubai and World Cup in
Qatar in 2022.
Meet the VIPs
Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines contain 500 million
people. Vietnam is a top performer, as companies shift
production from China to a lower-cost production location
and avoid the China-USA trade war. The Philippines maintains
strong ties to the USA. Japan appears attractive for exporters
due to the emergence of a gourmet channel featuring 10 chains
with more than 1,000 outlets featuring wide selections of
international brands.
Tackle a Tough Country
The time has come for some ambitious companies to tackle either
Mexico or Poland. Both countries offer exceptional potential for
those willing to invest in developing a brand the “Right Way.”
This includes consumer research, significant marketing, and
local oversight.
Big Wins: Small Markets
Consider Qatar, Ireland, Panama, and Israel. Small countries
import a higher percentage of their food and most use
distributors. This creates a level playing field for retail pricing
competitiveness. Export Solutions’ database tracks an average
of 84 distributors per country.
continued on next page
Hot Countries
1. USA
2. Saudi Arabia
3. China
4. Poland
5. Mexico
6. Japan
7. Vietnam
8. South Korea
9. Philippines
10. Qatar
Where to Play, How to Win 2022
E-commerce: 20% of sales?
E-commerce has emerged from niche to mainstream status.
Winning organizations have redesigned their route to market
strategies to incorporate e-commerce and digital marketing for
each element of the business. E-commerce is more than Amazon.
Strategies should incorporate unique requirements to service
“supermarket click and collect,” TMall, Ocado style, and other
platforms. For exporters, it is worthwhile to consider an
e-commerce “first” launch, particularly in Asia.
Export Solutions Can Help
Our distributor database covers 96 countries and more than
9,200 distributors and 2,700 retailers. The current environment
provides a unique window where its easier to contact distributors
regarding new business opportunities. Export Solutions has
launched several new programs which allows us to supply
distributor search services via Zoom/Teams meetings.
Where to Play, How to Win 2022
continued from previous page
2022 Winning Stategies
Geographic Accelerate USA Development for Overseas Brands
Saudi Arabia
Mexico or Poland
Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines (VIPs)
Sales Execution E-Commerce KPIs
Listing Maps – Every Country
In-store Visibility Guidelines. What is a Good Store (vs Bad Store)?
Team Upgrade Underperforming Distributors
Hire Digital Marketing Manager
USA Country Manager (Overseas Brands)
Looking for Good Distributors?
Export Solutions’ database covers
9,200 distributors in 96 countries.
Are you selling more to China or Canada?
China and the BRICs represent a big
disappointment for most exporters. Ten
years ago, a gold rush started, with brand
owners dreaming of selling to just one
percent of China’s 1.4 billion population.
Veteran export managers long ago deleted
those optimistic presentations with
ambitious volume targets for China,
India, Russia, and Brasil. The stark
reality reveals that eating habits remain
dramatically different in China (and
India). BRIC countries like China are
complex and largely self sufficient,
feeding their own nations. This leaves
little shelf space for premium foreign
brands with different taste profiles
unless they are supported by massive
advertising budgets.
Fab 5
Exporters enjoy greater success targeting
mid-size countries more dependent
on imports for their food requirements.
Export Solutions recommends 2022 focus
and expansion in Canada, Malaysia,
Morocco, Peru, and Saudi Arabia. 2022
represents the year to adjust resource
allocation to our Fab 5 countries. These
five countries all maintain populations
between 30-40 million people and a
history of openness to international
products. Many companies claim sales
to Fab 5 countries. However, my
experience suggests that sales levels
usually lag significantly below potential.
Fab 5 appear as strong candidates to
contribute a good return on your
incremental investment and focus.
Canada – Melting Pot
Canada’s GDP ranks tenth in the world,
larger than Russia, Spain, or Australia.
Canada’s population surpassed
38 million, + 10% in the last ten years.
Canada’s growth is fueled by
immigration from Asia and Europe
(Italy). Asian and European brands
perform well, as Canadian newcomers
are often “first generation,” still homesick
for their favorite brands. Most exporters
know of leading retailers such as
Loblaws, Sobeys, and Metro. The “big 3”
supermarket chains operate multiple
formats competing across far flung
provinces of Canada, supplying many
places to get started with your bilingual
package. Export Solutions databases offer
excellent coverage of Canada, including
86 retail customers and 205 international
food distributors. Canada: worth a fresh
look in 2022!
Malaysia – Land of Gold
There may be riches to be discovered in
Malaysia’s supermarket shelves, although
gold is no longer mined in the country.
Malaysia is a bright spot in Southeast
Asia, with a population of 33 million and
GDP growth averaging 5% percent since
2012. Malaysia benefits from its proximity
to Singapore, its small but prosperous
neighbor. Malaysia’s retail segment is
dominated by multinationals such as
Tesco and Cold Storage (Dairy Farm).
A strong distributor community exists,
with 128 distributors of all sizes and
specializations, ready to serve as your
route to market partner.
Morocco – Magnet
Over 11 million tourists arrive each year
to the experience the magic of Morocco.
Morocco is a peaceful country, hugging
the northwest African coast, close to
Spain. Population exceeds 37 million
people, with stable GDP growth
averaging 4 percent. I visited last year,
and checked impressive hypermarkets
from Carrefour and Marjane, a chain
owned by the king. The Morocco
opportunity is amplified by the
foodservice channel, catering to the
tourists as well as a local population
familiar with nearby European brands.
Peru – Latam Star
Peru stands out as a star in Latin America
business development, approaching
Chilean status as an outpost of
dependability. This appears as a
refreshing alternative in a continent
dominated by the political and financial
turbulence of its bigger neighbors in
Brasil, Colombia, and Argentina. Peru
will host 4.5 million tourists this year,
lured by Machu Picchu. Lima has
emerged as a gastronomic capital, with
three of the world’s top fifty restaurants.
Export Solutions maintains good
familiarity in Peru, through three recent
distributor search projects and coverage
of 82 distributors in our database.
Saudi Arabia – 50% of the Gulf
Most companies sell to Saudi Arabia, but
few approach their true potential in the
richest country in the Gulf. Normally,
Saudi Arabia should represent 50 percent
of your total Mid East business, if your
sales are proportionate to population and
the opportunity. This tends to be three
times the level of tourist friendly Dubai.
Hot Countries 2022: China or Canada?
continued on next page
Hot Countries 2022: China or Canada?
Why Saudi? Saudi boosts a population of
36 million and the worlds second largest
oil reserves. Saudi Arabia is an affluent
country, with the government providing
jobs, education, and other subsidies for
their citizens. 2022 outlook is mixed,
based upon oil prices. Still, tremendous
upside exists for most brand owners.
I am always fond of Saudi Arabia, as
I worked there for three years for a large
FMCG and met my Irish wife at a wine
tasting party!
USA – Bigger than BRICs
The USA development opportunity is
the largest single priority for European
brands. All European brands sell to the
USA, but volumes are usually quite
modest relative to the potential. USA
features ten different trade channels
and more than 300 retailers. Many chains
are open to innovative products from
overseas, as long as the manufacturer
“does his homework” by supplying true
category innovation. Trade promotion
investments and payment of listing fees
are mandatory in most cases. Normally,
I urge my European clients to “start
small” in the USA, focusing initially
on ten northeast USA chains with 30-150
stores each. Hire your own USA business
manager to work with local brokers and
optimize your investments in critical
trade promotion activity. Initial success
validates the phase two investment levels
required to compete effectively on the
shelves of larger retailers such as Kroger,
Ahold, or Publix.
China – Lessons Learned
Multinationals like Coca Cola, Starbucks,
Nestlé, Ferrero and Procter and Gamble
can point to China as their top global
priority. Unfortunately, I struggle to list
many (any?) smaller companies that are
generating important tonnage in China
on an export basis, even after ten years
or more of trying. Factors limiting
development include a strong
preference for local foods (except
Confectionery/Snacks), lack of strong
distributor options and requirements
to have large teams of people in country
to attack the opportunity. Emarketer
estimates that ecommerce represented
52%of sales in 2021, with brick and
morter retailers declining by 18%. This
also changes the playing field beyond
the capabilities of most overseas based
brand owners.
2022 Guidance
There are no easy answers in the world of
export. If export was easy, they wouldn’t
need us! Export Solutions advocates
consideration for business improvement
in attractive Fab 5 countries which
offer good upside with more limited
investment and complexity than China
and India. The USA appears as a high
priority for many in the 2022 post-Brexit
world. USA winners must play the USA
game, with USA factories (or copackers)
paired with local brokers and a channel
specific strategy. Export Solutions
can help!
Talk to an Expert
International Strategy Road Map
Fix Problem Markets
Entry Plans
Find Distributors in 96 Countries
Export Workshops
Motivational Meeting Speaker
Contact Greg Seminara at (001)-404-255-8387 to discuss your business development project.
continued from previous page
Population (millions)
Canada 38
Malaysia 33
Morocco 37
Peru 34
Saudi Arabia 36
When was the last time you reviewed your distributor contracts?
Fortunately, both brand owners and distributors only dedicate
time to these documents at the start of a relationship or when the
end is near. View our ten tips on handling distributor contracts.
1. Contract, Letter, or Handshake deal?
Most companies maintain a mix of these type of relationships.
This is normal, although most wish to standardize the model.
The rule of thumb is that the “more money you spend, the more
detailed the contract you need.” A simple two page letter of
understanding may be appropriate for a small business or a
handshake commitment in situations where the distributor
“buys and resells.” However, fully supported brand launches
and business management of a global brand usually requires
a detailed contract to protect both parties.
2. Sole Versus Exclusive Distributor
Most distributors demand country exclusivity. This is standard,
but may cause problems if the region is subject to inbound
shipments from global customers, e-commerce, or grey market
traders. A compromise is to offer a contract as the “sole”
distributor, providing protection from the manufacturer
appointing multiple partners in a country.
3. Distributors are Customers
At contract time, some manufacturers fail to remember that
distributors are customers, buying your product and reselling
to all local retailers. Suppliers may forward “one way” contracts
that are biased to terms favoring the manufacturer. Would you
send a contract like that to Kroger, Carrefour, or Tesco? Key is
to strike a reasonable balance favoring commercial sensibilities.
4. E-Commerce Implications
Many distributor contracts were executed before the advent
of e-commerce. Revised agreements may be necessary
incorporating e-commerce service requirements: items,
pricing, inventory, metrics, channel exclusivity.
5. Local Law Dominates
Overseas companies should have their contract reviewed by
a local law firm to guarantee compliance with local regulations.
For example, in Puerto Rico and Belgium, distributor (agent)
protection laws supercede any contract language.
6. Point of Arbitration
Normally, the brand owner automatically assigns his home
country as a point of arbitration for any disputes. In some cases,
both parties select a neutral country like Switzerland. A global
corporate counsel once taught me that ultimately any dispute
will need to be resolved in the distributor’s home country. For
example, a USA company can sue a distributor in a USA court. It is
unlikely that the distributor will hire a USA lawyer or even show
up. The USA court may enter a judgement, but the brand owner
still needs to go to the distributor’s country for enforcement.
7. Notification of Contract Termination
Standard contracts appear for two or three years with provisions
for automatic renewal. Distributors fight for long lead times;
a loss of brand can represent a major disruption. From a brand
owner’s side, would you want a terminated employee working
for you for six months or one year? I prefer three months
notification, but that can also backfire if the distributor resigns
your business.
8. Loss of Major Principal
Sadly, I have witnessed distributor bankruptcies because they
were doing “too well.” A distributor grows the brand to a size
where the manufacturer decides to take the brand back and form
a subsidiary. The distributor scrambles, but sometimes they need
to lay off more people and causes a rapid exit of other brands.
2022 contracts should require distributors to inform you within
10 days of notification (not effective date) of any loss of principal
representing ten percent or more of their business.
9. Global/Regional Customers
Large players like Walmart, Costco, Amazon, and Carrefour can
be difficult to manage. They demand best pricing system wide or
threaten to trans ship from other locations. In some cases, these
retailers may demand to “buy direct.” In this case, you can add
an “indent” clause permitting this practice while compensating
the distributor for local services such as merchandising.
10. Late Payments & Currency Exchange Rate
A distributor that pays late signals financial difficulties. Include
a clause that allows you the option to consider the contract in
default with payment delays beyond 45 days or with frequent
problem payers. The benchmark for calculating currency
exchange rates should be specified in the contract. I have seen
cases where a distributor assigns a five to ten percent benefit in
his favor to protect against the possibility of currency swings.
10 Tips: Distributor Contracts 2022
Need more information? Visit www.exportsolutions.com.
The Right Way New Country Launch
Retail buyers and distributors are receptive to brand launches from multinationals. Why?
Multinationals succeed, as they introduce new products “The Right Way.” Export Solutions recaps
30 components of launching “The Right Way.” Exporters create magic with limited budgets!
Winners check as many boxes as possible on “The Right Way” scorecard.
Product Retailer
o Meaningful innovation – not “me too” o Boost category sales, margin, and profit
o Consumer market research insights o Syndicated data (Nielsen) – category facts
o Technical confirmation of product differentiation o Invest in retailer “push” programs
o Reasonable retail price – premium (not sky high) o 4-6 high value promotional events per year
o Test market results – similar country or retailer o Retailer VP, distributor CEO at intro call
Marketing Excitement
o 360 marketing plan: TV, in-store, social, PR o Launch party – memorable location
o Sampling o PR, social media, trade press
o Social media o Celebrity endorsement
o Displays: end of aisle and shelf blocks o Distributor sales contest
o Special offers – retailer fliers o Donation to local charity
Team Scorecard
o Distributor – best in class, category expert o Year 1: invest; year 2: break even; year 3: profit
o Local manager – launch oversight o Sales volume (retail sell-out)
o Marketing, social media, PR agencies o Market share
o Brand/technical resource from headquarters o Retail availability (weighted distribution)
o Total distributor engagement: reps. to CEO o Year 2 commitment and enthusiasm
From High Class to Mass
International brand builders may validate a logical progression
to market entry. Most export brands deliver unique products, but
at a premium price. It’s a natural first step to target “gourmet”
food stores and supermarkets patronized by upscale shoppers
first. E-commerce is an excellent channel to gain early visibility
for an overseas entrant. Many exporters should focus on success
in these channels prior to targeting mainstream supermarkets
supplying middle class shoppers. These chains tend to offer
larger store counts, but higher cost of entry and promotion.
Phase three retailers represent a final challenge once your brand
has achieved a respectable market share. These retailers tend
to be “value oriented” and demand lower price points to gain
acceptance by shoppers on a more limited budget.
Export Solutions recommends conducting a retailer
segmentation exercise for each country. Align customer
demographic characteristics with the market development
trajectory for your brand.
Sequence Demographic Retail Targets
Phase One High Class • High end supermarkets
• Gourmet deli’s
• “Homesick” expat shops
• Specialty retailers
• E-commerce
Phase Two Mainstream • Conventional supermarkets targeting
“suburban” shoppers
Phase Three Mass • Value oriented supermarket
and hypermarket chains
• Convenience – “small shops”
Looking for Good Distributors?
Export Solutions database covers
9,200 distributors in 96 countries.
20 Tips to Accelerate a Mature Business
Activity Strategy
Creative Promotions
Retailer specific events. Offer fresh ideas.
Distributor Brand Manager
Upgrade talent. Secure “A” players on your business.
More profit through higher volume at lower price?
Country Manager
Hire local manager or assign HQ person for 3-6 months.
Local Production or Copacker
Lower cost structure with added complexity.
Brand Ambassadors
Hire team with “brand uniform” to sample at local events.
White Space – Distribution
Fill voids on retailer listing map: Top 10 customers.
Social Media
Partner with influencers. Targeted local investments.
New KPIs
New measures: Listing maps, shelf placement, etc.
E-commerce Development
Invest to lead in this emerging channel.
In-Store Visibility
Educate and measure team on in-store presence goals.
Sampling, Sampling, Sampling
Aggressive distribution of free sample size.
Distributor Team Linkage
Zoom/Teams contact with Key Account Managers, etc.
Launch NPD Innovation
Excite team to launch innovation “The Right Way.”
Distributor CEO
Treat CEO as VIP. Create special relationship.
Support local events and retailer charities.
Sales Contest
Excite and motivate retail sales team.
Alternate Channel Focus
Small shops, foodservice, duty free, drug stores.
High Spend Test
Will heavy up marketing or trade discounts drive sales?
Distributor Change
Motivated new team, high energy to solve old problems.
Are you selling more to Ireland, Iceland
or India? To the Bahamas, Baltics, or Brasil?
UAE or United Kingdom? Small countries
offer solid business opportunities, with
lower complexity and investment required.
All companies export development plans
should include a mix of strategic countries
like China and the USA (Europeans) plus
revenue generators with fewer than ten
million people. Listed below are Export
Solutions’ ten tips on why small countries
deliver big business.
1. Limited Local Production
Small countries are highly dependent on
food imports. Even multinationals tend to
locate factories in larger hub countries. This
creates the opportunity for exporters to fill
a high percentage of a small countries food
supply requirements.
2. Distributor Model – Primary Route to Market
Most companies partner with distributors
in these countries. Leaders like Nestlé
and Unilever may find it more productive
and efficient to use distributors versus
establishing a local subsidiary. For example, Export Solutions’
distributor database supplies information on 63 distributors
in Panama, 87 in Kuwait, and 78 distributors in Croatia.
3. Value Chain – Level Playing Field
Brands are frequently able to compete on a level playing field in
smaller countries. Most products maintain similar cost structures
with importation fees, distributor margins, and retailer margins.
International brands do not suffer the same type of price gap
problems versus homegrown brands as they encounter in large
countries with local plants.
4. Low Complexity – Ship and Sell
In many cases, you are able to sell existing Made in the USA
or Europacks. Compliance may be achieved with a small,
distributor applied sticker. Many countries in this cluster
do not require a lengthy registration process accepting USA
or European standards.
5. Brand Awareness Exists
Surprise! Some consumers in an adjacent small country will
already be aware of your brand. This could result from cable TV
advertising or visits from their citizens to your country. Costa
Rica, Malta, and the Caribbean represent tourist hubs. These
popular hosts feed seasonal residents from the mainland and
boatloads of visitors hungry for their favorite brands.
6. Reasonable Cost of Entry
Launching a new brand is economical. Retailers are frequently
happy with a “free fill” of the first order versus an excessive
listing fee. Demos in a handful of high profile stores will
create visibility. Distributors appreciate your existing point
of sale materials.
7. Best in Class Distributors
Some of the best distributors of the world are based in small
countries. The reason is that even enormous multinationals
partner with distributors in these regions. This propels the
leading players to top ten suppliers to the retail trade. These
distributors implement the best practice models from companies
like Procter & Gamble and apply them to all the brands in their
portfolio. I witness many examples where a powerful distributor
creates a huge success story for a smaller brand based upon their
marketplace clout.
8. Currency and Freight Impact
Many countries consider the USA dollar or Euro as legal tender.
This reduces the impact of currency fluctuation and perhaps
some financing charges. Small countries that depend on imports
across all industries enjoy frequent freight service. This creates
competitive rates and potentially lower logistics costs.
9. Distributors: Excellent Relationships and Coverage
Everyone knows everyone in these countries. Distributor owners
emerge as respected community leaders. They know how to get
things done. Distributors are forced to be generalists, selling to
all customers across all channels and all regions within a
small geography.
10. International Brands: Affordable Luxury
Consumers take pride in offering their families the best food
treats from overseas. These world class brands may only be
a few cents more expensive versus private label type options
which face similar cost structures.
Export Solutions serves as a distributor search “helper,” with
400+ projects completed for more than 50 companies of all sizes.
Contact us to leverage our distributor database and strong
relationships with distributors in 96 countries.
Ten Tips: Small Countries Deliver Big Business
Coverage: 96 countries and 2,700 retailers
Drug Store
Natural Food
Club, Cash & Carry
Supplying profiles, store counts, formats,
news and info for Top 100 international
retailers plus all overseas branches
Example 1: Who are supermarket
retailers in Canada?
Example 2: How many stores does Loblaws
operate by banner, in Canada?
Search by Retailer NameSearch by Country
Combo Search
Search By Format
Retailer Search Made Simple
Canada Example
Why did you create the retailer database?
Export managers dedicate a lot of time
to researching countries, retailers and
preparing business plans. A standard
KPI measure is tracking product listings
for key customers. I believe that our
industry could benefit from a global
retailer database to instantly locate
retailers and their store counts in
96 countries. The retailer database
is a logical extension of our leading
distributor database which has helped
more than 3,000 companies build export
sales during the last 10 years.
What is your geographic coverage?
96 of top 100 GDP countries worldwide.
This includes most Asian, Middle Eastern,
and European countries. Our database
covers every country in the Americas.
In Africa, we cover South Africa.
What is your format coverage?
Excellent coverage of chain supermarkets,
hypermarkets, clubs, cash and carry,
and convenience formats. Solid initial
coverage of drug stores, natural food
stores, and e-commerce channels.
Our database does not cover
DIY/hardware, toy, office, liquor,
or sporting goods channels.
Retailer database: featured info
Profile – Retailers profile and link to their
internet home page.
Formats – Retailer’s stores segmented
by format and banner.
We track supermarkets, hypermarkets,
cash and carry, convenience stores,
discounters, drug stores, natural food
stores, and e-commerce retailers.
News – Latest retailers’ news. In some
cases (Asia), we substitute a link to the
retailer’s latest promotional flyer.
Financial – Many leading retailers are
publicly traded. A link is provided to
their latest financial results. We do not
offer estimated financial information for
privately held or family owned retailers.
How is your coverage of global retailers?
We offer total coverage for top 100 global
retailers. This includes all of their
branches and banners. Searchable!
Use filters to research Walmart, Costco,
Carrefour, Tesco, Metro, Casino presence
by country. Database covers retailer’s
total store outlets as well as a breakout
by banner and format.
What can I use the retailer database info for?
Obtain an instant snapshot of an
average of 24 retailers per country
for 96 countries.
Track presence of global retailers like
Walmart, Carrefour, and Metro AG.
Create country specific listing maps
where distributors measure brand
authorization by retailer.
Conduct home office based
international category reviews
and price checks from retailers’
e-commerce sites (not all retailers).
Prepare annual reviews and reports
with up-to-date information on
leading retailers and channels.
The database offers filters allowing you
to search by country, format, or retailer
name. You can also use a combination
of filters for your research.
Can I get a free sample
of the retailer database?
Sure! Check www.exportsolutions.com for a
complete profile of United Kingdom retailers.
Do you provide retailer’s annual sales
or market share information?
Accurate annual sales information is
available through the financial link for
publicly traded companies. We do not
provide estimated financial information
for privately held and family owned
retailers. Channel blurring occurs
between supermarket, convenience,
e-commerce, and even natural food
operators. We do not provide market
share due to difficulty to accurately
isolate and define channel market share
information, particularly with so many
privately held retailers.
How accurate is the retailer data?
Export Solutions’ retailer database is
updated weekly, so information is highly
accurate. Retailer names, web sites, and
formats rarely change. This makes the
database 99% accurate at the company
level. New stores open every day,
resulting in store counts that may be
95% accurate. We intend to update store
counts on a regular basis.
How much does retailer database access cost?
An annual subscription to the retailer
database is $975. This supplies one year,
unlimited access to more than 2,700
retailers in 96 countries. Special offers
available for our distributor database
customers. Note: special pricing for
government trade organizations.
How do I access the retailer database?
Visit www.exportsolutions.com and click
the retailer database page. You can place
a subscription or individual continent
(i.e., Europe) into a shopping cart.
Register and check out via credit card.
The process takes two minutes and we
automatically send you an invoice.
About Export Solutions
Export Solutions was founded in 2004
and is based in Atlanta, Georgia in the
USA. Export Solutions serves as a leading
provider of business intelligence to the
food and consumer goods industries.
Our distributor database covers 9,200
distributors in 96 countries and has been
used by more than 3,000 clients. Our
Export Express newsletter has a circulation
of 9,900 and is viewed as an important
source of insights, strategies, and
templates for international development.
FAQ’s Retailer Database
Distributor Search Helper for:
Can We Help You?
Recent Distributor Search Projects
Asia Europe Middle East Latin America
Australia Germany Israel Argentina
China Ireland Kuwait Brazil
Indonesia Netherlands Qatar Colombia
Japan Nordics Saudi Arabia Costa Rica
Malaysia Spain UAE Ecuador
Philippines United Kingdom North America Mexico
Singapore Africa Canada Panama
South Korea South Africa United States Peru
Call the Export Accelerator!
Contact Greg Seminara at greg@exportsolutions.com
to discuss your business development project.
One Billion consumers reside in stable
markets of Europe and North America.
These established countries represent
14% of the world’s population, but
account for 70% of all retail sales and
90% of the volume for most supermarket
brand producers. Growing sales in our
current selling universe of one billion
people is exceedingly difficult. It requires
true innovation (which may be quickly
copied) or costly investments in
marketing and trade spending to steal
share from your competition. Most
established markets achieved 2021 GDP
growth rates of 0-3%. Forward thinking
brand owners search for new growth
regions to offset mature categories in
current markets.
Size of the Prize
Our industry is fortunate that all 7.8
billion of the worlds citizens require food
products. Current reach extends to one
billion consumers for most companies.
Two billion people live on less than $2 per
day, surviving on the basics. This leaves
manufacturers with a potential untapped
market of 4.4 billion people that will
eat more and better in the future. This
will create new demand for our food,
confectionery, household, and personal
care products. Emerging Middle Class
populations are blossoming everywhere
from the legendary BRICS to previously
forgotten Sub-Saharan Africa countries.
New Holy Grail
A new Holy Grail of “selling to the next
one billion consumers” has been adopted
by industry leaders. The next billion
effectively doubles the size of the prize
for brands. Success with this lofty goal
requires marketers to teach consumers
new habits and practices or convert
consumers from local brands. This
represents a case of “Back to the Future”
for global brands. We must adjust our
sophisticated category management
approaches tailored for global retailers to
shift to the fundamentals of penetrating
fragmented markets. Plant managers will
wince at the request to shift production
from Costco sized packages to “pouches,
packets, and other pint sized portions”
required to gain trial and attractive
opening price points.
Rethinking Market Segmentation
Export Solutions segments markets into
three groups. “Established” markets
Finding Our Next Billion Consumers
Total Population Potential Next Billion
China 1.45 billion 225 million
India 1.41 billion 200 million
Africa 1 billion 100 million
Latin America 600 million 150 million
South East Asia 600 million 100 million
Russia/East Europe 300 million 115 million
Middle East 300 million 75 million
Turkey/Central Asia 160 million 35 million
Total Population 5.71 billion 1 billion people
continued on next page
Country Segmentation 2022
Established Developing New Frontiers
Western Europe
Central/East Europe
Latin America
(ex Brazil)
Saudi Arabia/Gulf
Balance Middle East
Balance Asia
Population 1 billion 2.2 billion 4.7 billion
Share Global Population 13% 28% 59%
Share Global Retail Sales 70% 20% 10%
2022 GDP Growth 0-3% 3-7% 3-7%
Finding Our Next Billion Consumers
represent evolved markets such as
the USA, Western Europe, Canada,
and Australia. “Developing” markets
indicate markets such as China, Russia
and Mexico where many companies do
business, but per capita consumption
levels are low. ”New Frontiers” reflect
countries (Africa) with no existing sales
for a brand, or tiny businesses relative to
the size of the population. (India/Brazil).
High Potential Regions
China leads the list due to a reported
middle class of 175 million people. India’s
middle class of 150 million is expected
to double in the next five years. Latin
America also looks promising due to
strengthening economies in Brazil
& Mexico plus proximity to the USA.
Population explosion in Southeast Asia
could allow Indonesia to reach 300
million people and the Philippines and
Vietnam to each surpass the 100 million
population threshold. Middle East and
Russia will remain attractive, as long as
the price of oil is $80 per barrel or higher.
Follow the Global Retailers
Brand owners can quickly identify
priority countries by following the lead of
global retailers. Leaders such as Walmart,
Carrefour, Metro, and Tesco spend
millions analyzing market potential. Look
at China, where every global retailer has
battled for the last 10 years. Retailers are
all planting small flags in India, quietly
creating infrastructure and “wholesale
based” presence in advance of the
eventual opening to foreign supermarket
operators. Walmart’s exceptional results
in Mexico offset stagnant performance
from their USA business. Global retailer
presence is smaller in Southeast Asia, the
Middle East, and Russia. However, my
bet is that the giants are watching local
supermarket chains sweat to build critical
mass before sweeping in to acquire once
the initial footprint has been created.
Distributors – Local Experts
Most manufacturers prefer to partner
with a distributor versus creating a local
subsidiary in “New Frontier” markets.
This allows brands to test their way
into a market and focus investments
on brand building versus infrastructure.
Companies instantly benefit from the
distributors long standing relationships
with local supermarket buyers and can
gain valuable “lessons learned” from
the distributor’s other brands. Seek
distributors with experience pioneering
other premium, international brands.
Export Solutions’ distributor database
covers 96 countries, tracking more than
100 distributors each in China, Brazil,
Russia, Mexico and 98 in India.
Next Steps: Management Commitment
Selling to the next billion consumers
requires familiar strategies and tactics.
Brands tap into their learning base of
best practices across the globe. Most
companies know how to gain product
trial in emerging markets and how to
penetrate countries dominated by small
shops. The key is to secure senior
management commitment to the vision
of selling to one billion new consumers.
The real investment is in people required
to execute the plan. Export Solutions
can help!
continued from previous page
There are 196 countries in the world.
How many is your company selling to?
International expansion to new countries
is a strategic imperative for most
exporters. The challenge is to determine
which countries will deliver the greatest
financial return for your investment of
time and resources. Listed below are
some practical considerations for
determining where to sell next.
Determine Category Size: Data exists
to allow you to capture the size of your
category in target countries. Syndicated
data suppliers such as A.C. Nielsen
and Euromonitor sell category sales
information and trends. Government
agencies track sales for core categories
impacting their local producers. Category
size may be estimated by sourcing the
information from a friendly retailer and
projecting country level sales based upon
that retailer’s market share.
Population: Just One Factor: A logical
conclusion would translate that large
countries like China and India would
represent the greatest opportunity.
Population levels are relevant, but not
the only factor. A classic case study is
the story of Colombia and Puerto Rico.
Most USA based consumer goods
manufacturers sell more product
to Puerto Rico, a commonwealth
of 3.3 million people than to Colombia,
a country of 52 million people.
GDP: Follow the Money: Per capita,
gross domestic product (GDP) is an
important consideration. International
exporters are known for marketing
premium, value-added brands.
The higher the countries purchasing
power, the more likely that middle
income citizen’s can afford our brands.
This appears as one reason that European
markets such as Germany, France, Italy,
& the United Kingdom may create a
larger opportunity than countries such
as Pakistan, Indonesia, or Bangladesh
that have far more people.
Growth Rates: Think to the Future:
Export development often represents
an investment for the long term. Your
country prioritization analysis should
look at population and GDP growth rates.
I worked in Saudi Arabia in the early 90’s
when the population was around
14 million, but growing at 8%. Today,
Saudi Arabia’s population is more than
34 million. Which countries will be the
largest in 2025 versus 2022?
Proximity to Manufacturing Plants:
Transportation costs contribute one
of the largest line items in your pricing
calculation. Logically, shipping to a
neighboring country is likely to cost
less than shipping half way across to the
world. Citizens of adjacent countries have
probably visited your country and may
have seen your brand or a commercial for
it. Canada occupies the northern border
of the USA and is the single largest export
market for USA consumer goods
manufacturers (and vice versa).
Extend Current Retailer/Distributor
Partnerships: Global retailers such as
Carrefour, Metro, Walmart, and Costco
operate in many countries (and
continents.) Asia and Europe feature
regional distributors. Your brand has
established a track record with these
leading players. Your company is already
proficient at working with their operating
models. Leverage these relationships to
enter new markets. Warning: this can be
a risky strategy when you base your plan
on a large global retailer that happens
to have a small presence in your target
market. Examples: Whole-Foods UK,
or Walmart-Argentina.
Cost to Enter: There is a cost of doing
business in each market. Markets such
as Italy and Hong Kong maintain
notoriously high cost of entry into
the supermarket channel. Latin
American/Asian markets require
investment, but at more modest levels
relative to Europe or the USA.
Market Complexity: How difficult will it
be to enter the market? Certain markets
are consolidated with a few major
retailers and many qualified distributors.
Other markets are complicated, with
multiple trade channels, fragmented retail
environment, and a disparity in usage
profiles for your category. Larger markets
are challenging to enter. However, a 5%
market share in a large country may
deliver greater long term dividends than
a 50% market share in a small country.
Competitive Environment – Get Ready
for Battle: Evaluation of the competitive
landscape in your target market is critical.
Does the market represent virgin
territory? Or will you face 2-3 major,
multinational competitors? In competitive
markets, existing market combatants will
typically spend heavily to defend their
brand position to blunt a competitive
introduction. It is likely that you face
competition in every market. However,
it is important to calibrate the existing
competitive environment.
Availability of Enthusiastic Local
Partner: Selection of a qualified, local
partner is another key factor. Strong
distributors and importers exist in every
market. Pro-active contact from a leading
distributor indicates that this market
expert sees potential in your product.
This is favorable and may encourage you
to prioritize this type of market. However,
you must conduct due diligence to insure
that this enthusiastic distributor (that you
meet at a trade fair) maintains the critical
mass and skill set required to succeed in
building your brand.
These factors all play an important role
in determining the “Size of the Prize”
in new markets. Veteran exporters will
weigh each factor to establish the right
path forward for their export
development plan.
New Country Expansion Prioritization
Take Your Export Business to the Next Level
Export Solutions Services
Current Business Assessment
Opportunity Gap Analysis
Customer/Channel Prioritization
Broker, Importer, Distributor Identification
USA Entry Plan
Measures: Concept to Shelf
Consumer/Trade Promotion Plan
Connect with Channel/Retailer experts
Team staffing and recruitment
Double Your Business Plans
“Spend time Selling to Distributors
versus Searching for Distributors”
Distributor Performance: 20/20 Business Analysis
The start of a new year is an appropriate time to review distributor performance. This process starts with the evaluation of the usual
metrics such as shipment results, market share, and success delivering new item placement. Normally, distributor performance ranges
across the spectrum from outstanding results delivered by top distributors to under-achievers who fail to meet their shipment budget.
Each scenario warrants a different approach in terms of managing for the future.
Distributor Segmentation Analysis
A valuable exercise is to segment your existing distributors into
the three groups: Leaders, Performers, and Laggards. Look at
the organizational models of your “Leaders” and Laggards.”
Are there consistent threads between the business specialization
of your distributor network? For example, do you find that your
“Leaders” are all Large Distributors (versus small), Big Brand
Distributors (vs. niche), Category/Ethnic specialists (vs. all types
of Food), technologically savvy versus “old school”? A similar
analysis should cover your “Laggard” distributors. Are under
performers small organizations that fail to meet your
requirements? Or alternatively, large distributors where your
brand is too small to gain sufficient attention? Your analysis may
reveal that one type of model works well for large or adjacent
countries while another approach works best for smaller or
remote countries. Look for the trends!
Lessons Learned
Completing the distributor segmentation exercise described
above should yield some important conclusions on the best
partner models to pursue for your brand. For example, an Italian
manufacturer of candy may confirm that his best performing
distributors are international confectionery experts, versus
distributors specializing only in Italian products. On the other
hand, an ethnic Asian food producer may find that the best
candidates to represent his brand are Asian channel specialists
versus distributors that represent all types of fine food categories
such as Tea & Olive Oil.
Next Steps
Honor your leaders and drive them to higher levels. Recognition
such as Distributor of the Year, visits with your company CEO,
or requests to deliver a presentation on their “success story” are
inexpensive motivators. “Laggards” impact our own ability to
achieve our personal objectives. We often like the people who work
at “Laggards”, but at times, you must act to protect the long term
interests of your company and pursue a change in distributors.
It is important to recognize that all companies have distributors
that are “Leaders” and “Laggards.” Proactive attention to fix the
“Laggards” will only improve your results versus suffering
through another year with a poor performing partner.
Export Solutions Can Help
Our industry leading database has been used by more than
3,000 brands to locate partners in 96 countries. This includes an
average of 85 unique distributors per country. There are always
many alternatives to consider in every country when you have
access to the Export Solutions database.
Export Solutions serves as a consultant to European and
American brands of all sizes. Our work includes analysis
of distributor networks and development of strategies for
motivating, measuring, and rewarding distributors. Export
Solutions has helped companies identify, interview, and
sign distributors on every continent. Contact Greg Seminara
at gseminara@exportsolutions.com to discuss your project.
Our motto is “Spend time Selling to Distributors vs. Searching
for Distributors.”
Distributor Segmentation
Results Next Steps
20% of total
Shipment increase of 10% or more.
Growing Market Share.
Innovative Strategies.
Recognition: Public & Financial.
Invest in team generated ideas.
Share learning with other markets.
60% of total
Shipments + 5% and in-line with
overall market growth.
Consistent results over
many years.
Support current growth trajectory.
Challenge to reach “Leader” status.
20% of total
Flat/declining shipments.
Poor results for 2+ years.
Low energy/innovation.
Probation status for existing partner.
Evaluate different representation options.
All markets have alternatives!
Criteria Rating Evaluation Factors
Shipment Results
Overall growth for our industry in your market?
Distributor company wide sales performance (all brands)?
Distributor sales results for my brand?
Change vs. benchmarks?
Brand Performance
Key brand performance versus overall category.
Shipment growth, market share, weighted distribution.
New item success.
Key Account Results
Results at top 3-5 accounts (or channels).
Improvements: new items, shelf presence,
Are we getting “fair share of retailers growth?
What Worked?
Strategies or performance that achieved results.
Ideas that delivered incremental sales.
Key Issues?
Problems or barriers to achieving results.
Pricing, investment, competition.
Performance by key people touching our business.
Organizational changes? Who made a difference?
Distributors financial health. Planned investments.
Efficiency opportunities in Partnership.
2022 Requirements
Resources required to achieve 2022 shipment expectations.
Critical activities, timelines, changes to structure/plan.
Distributor Market Review
Greg’s Ten Tips
1. Good news travels fast and bad news
travels slowly
2. If you want to know what’s really going
on, spend a day visiting stores
3. Pick up the phone and call a friend or business
partner versus email
4. Be positive. Think, “why not?”
5. Results are directly proportionate to your
investment: Marketing, People, Focus, Time
6. A distributor (or Broker) “respects” what the
Brand owner “inspects”
7. Shipment numbers rarely lie
8. Put it in writing
9. If two people agree on the principle of a deal,
you can usually work out the financial terms
10. There is more in common with industry
practices across the globe than differences.
Brand owners everywhere desire more shelf
presence and retailers demand more discounts.
Recognize the differences, but focus on the
universal requirement for superior products,
marketed at a fair price.
Retail stores serve as showrooms for our products,
the destination where supply chain inventory is
translated to a sale. Leading multinationals such
as Unilever, Coca Cola, Mondelez, and Kellog’s are
placing renewed emphasis on in-store execution
through “Perfect Store” initiatives. Basically,
perfect store programs seek to optimize supplier
and store sales through improved brand visibility
and an enhanced consumer shopping experience.
The concept of a Perfect Store or improved in-store
presence applies to manufacturers of all sizes.
Cultural Shift
Successful execution of Perfect Store programs
mandates a cultural shift.Today, most companies
exhibit laser focus on volume and headquarter
based product listings. This same attitude and
determination must be applied to key performance
indicators (KPI’s) on store presence for your brand.
This shift requires an organizational realignment
around roles and responsibilities, time allocation,
and performance measures and incentives.
Define Your Perfect Store
The first step is to ensure that each member of your sales team is
“crystal clear” on your brand’s in-store objectives. Create a store
conditions resource guide, including photos that can be
distributed or shared online. I’ll always remember a store visit
in Cordoba, Argentina when I was a sales manager for Clorox.
The distributor representative proudly brought me to his “best”
store. The store was not bad, but below objective because our
brand only commanded 50% of shelf space versus our 65%
market share. When I mentioned my disappointment, the
representative accurately claimed that “no one had ever
shared” this shelf objective before.
Focused & Fact Based
Perfect store programs should concentrate on your highest
volume and profit items, not every product in your range.
Establishment of Perfect Store criteria should be logical and
demonstrate that successful execution translates to increased
sales and profits for the retailer. Normally, manufacturers share
test data based upon similar store sizes or formats.
The Right Stuff
Mondelez speaks of four components to retail execution:
Right Assortment
Right Pricing and Promotion
Right Location
Right Displays
What attributes form the “Right Stuff” for your brand?
Secondary Placement
A recent project revealed that my client’s category was found in
seven distinct store locations. Sales grow exponentially through
placement in multiple store sections. Examples include off-shelf
displays, secondary shelf placement, or cross merchandising with
related products. Capture secondary placement in your Perfect
Store vision.
What’s Measured is Treasured
In-store KPI’s can be measured via mobile devices. Normal
tracking creates objectives that can be counted by a numerical
response or a yes or no answer. Core measures focus on items
available (assortment), retail pricing, share of shelf space, and
incremental displays. Distributors and export managers must
create systems to evaluate results and track progress just as we
do shipment performance.
Incentives & Excitement
Perfect Store programs require the same energy and excitement
as other strategic initiatives. Leaders have aligned compensation
bonuses to attainment of goals. Others have supported the
initiatives with contests and media support. Google “Perfect
Store” to see instructional videos from multinationals.
Emerging Market Weapon
Many emerging markets are transitioning from small urban
shops to modern retail. These countries offer greater flexibility
to make changes at store level than tightly controlled Western
markets. These new markets often serve as lead markets for
Perfect Store rollouts due to acceptance of point of sale materials
and ability to establish a firm foundation for the future.
Future – Amazon and Online Retailers
Amazon’s web pages represent a change in dynamics where new
brand visibility strategies may revolve around web placement
and cross promotions. What is the perfect store for an online
environment? The future is today.
Achievement of our sales targets requires a new attitude towards
in-store execution. Every member of your distributor network
should maintain a clear understanding of whether each store
is an A, B, C, or D or a Perfect Store and Why? Export Solutions
works with brand owners on a program called Next Level Sales
Management which creates specific measures for improving your
in store performance.
What is Your Perfect Store?
Create Your Own Export Library
Looking for a fresh point of view for your
next event or training workshop?
Contact Greg Seminara at
All guides available free at www.exportsolutions.com.
Export Strategy Guide
Distributor Search Guide
Export Handbook
Selling to USA Handbook
Distributor Management Guide
Finance & Logistics
300 Tips for
Export Managers
Idea Guide:
New World New Business
Export Treasure Chest
My Favorite Templates & Forms
People Power
Strong Teams Build Great Brands
New Distributor
Cooperation Model
Hiring the right local partner is the third
most important step in optimizing your
sales. This follows creating a product with
a unique consumer value proposition
and willingness to invest in brand
development activities. Listed below are
some practical tips on selecting the right
company to represent your brand.
Identify a Pool of Preliminary Candidates
Create a large group of potential
candidates. This could include distri-
butors, importers, brokers, or local
producers of related products. Highlight
companies that are specialists in the
market sector that you are aiming at.
Export Solutions streamlines this process
with our online directory of more than
9,200 distributors, importers and brokers
for 96 countries.
Establish Partner Selection Criteria
What are the key attributes of your
ideal candidate? Product specialization?
Service portfolio? Existing results for
current brands? Choosing a Large,
“Best in Class” partner versus a “Small,
Hungry” company willing to pioneer a
new brand is an important preference.
Determine Candidates’ Preliminary
Interest Level
Send a brief summary of your product
proposition and company credentials
to the 5-10 most promising candidates.
A follow-up phone call to your top
candidates is an appropriate personal
connection. Distributors expressing
an interest should complete a brief
company overview recapping their
corporate capabilities: Sales, Logistics,
Marketing, etc.
Schedule a Meeting in the Candidates’ Office
Normally, we recommend interviewing
at least three candidates depending on
the size and scope of a project. Schedule
the meeting 4-6 weeks in advance.
Provide a specific agenda at least 2 weeks
in advance, including pre-work such as
category market analysis. Meet the
distributor’s team that would work
on your business, as well as senior
management. A distributor’s office (and
warehouse) provide clues on company
culture, scale, and capabilities.
Prepare Interview Questions
and Assessment Grid
Create a list of key questions to ask each
candidate. Topics could include local
category dynamics, cost of entry, and
Distributor success stories. Create a
standard grid to evaluate and compare all
candidates on a common platform. Export
Solutions’ website contains ten sample
questions for every distributor interview.
Conduct an Independent Evaluation of
Candidates’ Performance for Existing Brands
Visit target stores for your product to
observe category conditions. At the
same time, evaluate each candidate’s
performance for his existing clients.
Do his current brands maintain a strong
presence in the market? Or are his brands
hard to find? Conduct these visits to
leading retailers independently, as an
accompanied visit may lead you to select
stores which may not be representative of
marketplace reality.
Reference Checks Represent
an Important Next Step
Request references of 5 of the distributors
top 10 clients. Call at least three references
and request insights into performance
and capabilities. Acknowledge that these
are likely to be positive references, but
they always provide significant value.
Run a Dun & Bradstreet or other type
of credit report on leading candidates.
Export Solutions is often hired to
conduct independent, confidential,
reference checks.
Invite Top Choice to your
Corporate Headquarters
The visit should include meetings with
senior management, factory tour, launch
planning, and mutual commitment. The
trip serves as an important bonding and
relationship building experience between
your company and your new partner.
My Way: Finding and Selecting the Right Distributor
300 Free Articles
Export Strategy
Distributor Management
Strategic Export
Development Program
Export Passport
Export Passport
Distributor Search Challenge
Some distributors are too big…
Other distributors are too small!
Export Passport identifies
Prime Prospect distributors
that represent the Right Fit
Exporter Classification*
Type Description
Export Profile
10 Multinational Strong market share everywhere across multiple categories.
9 Global Multinational. Mix of leading countries and niche participation.
8 Category Champion One core mass category. Strong performance globally.
7 Icon Well known, niche leader. Global availability. Example: Tabasco.
6 Regional Leader Strong share across one continent/region. Some export success.
5 National Hero National treasure, #1 brand. Exports to homesick expats, tourists.
4 Player Respectable share in home country. Opportunistic exports.
3 Participant “Me too” product. Opportunistic exports. “Trader”/private label.
2 Challenger Innovator. Some listings in home country. New to export.
1 Start-up Trying to get traction in home country. Export “dreamer.”
*Export Solutions’ classification system
Distributor Classification*
Prime Prospects
Massive distributor.
Handles multinational/#1
brands across many
Brand leaders.
$$$ marketing budgets.
Exporter types: 6-10
Category Captain.
Handles leading brands in
one segment.
$$ marketing budgets.
Exporter types: 5-9
Mid-size distributor.
Handles #2/3 brands or
niche leaders across many
premium brands.
$-$$ marketing budgets.
Exporter types: 4-7
Respected local.
Diversified product
Results equal to investment.
Flexible, challenger brands.
$ marketing budget.
Exporter types: 2-4
Small distributor.
Entrepreneurial, open to
innovative new companies.
Start-up brands.
“Pay as you go” marketing.
Exporter types: 1-3
Need more information? Visit www.exportsolutions.com.
*Export Solutions’ classification system
Recipe: Best in Class Partnerships*
Ingredient Brand Owner Distributor
Realistic expectations based upon
investment/market conditions.
Achieve sales increase in excess
of overall market growth.
Category Expertise
Share knowledge, trends, and
category analysis.
Serve as local category expert.
Educate the buyer.
Contantly deliver important
new product ideas to market.
Successfully launch new products
into the market.
Appropriate Investment levels:
marketing/trade promotion.
Optimize return on investment.
Store Presence
Create clear, realistic guidelines
for in-store presence.
Share of shelf exceeds market
share. Maximize visibility.
Support market driven ideas to
build the business.
Relentless pursuit of new and
better ways to grow sales.
Concentrate on Basics: Listing
Map, Pricing, Merchandising Plan.
Complete reports accurately and
on time.
Periodic market visits and “rapid
response” to issues.
Appropriate level based upon
brand size and opportunity.
Cost to Serve
Remember that distributors need
to make money too!
Fair margin based upon brand
size and complexity.
#1 Fan. Frequent recognition of
good results by all team members.
Strong commitment to exceed
expectations everyday.
*Mix Well for Best Results
The state of California ranks as the
world’s 8th largest economy, larger
than India or Russia. USA population
expanded by 51 million people since 2000,
an increase greater than the population
of Canada. Americans are spenders by
nature, with 85% of the population able
to regularly purchase supermarket
brands. All international companies
export to the USA, but per capita sales
levels are usually very small relative to
potential. Export Solutions believes that
many international brands would see
a higher return on investment through
efforts to build a stronger franchise in the
USA versus waiting for “BRIC dreams to
come true.”
Global Marketplace
Americans are spoiled with an
overwhelming assortment of food
options. An average USA supermarket
stocks more than 38,000 unique items
in a 48,000 square foot store. Shelves
showcase products from around the
world. During one week, a typical family
would enjoy a mix of Italian, Mexican,
and Asian food to supplement meals
based upon meat, vegetables, and
potatoes. American cuisine has
assimilated into international cuisine
reflecting the rich heritage of ethnic
diversity. This creates an open gateway
for brands from every continent.
Americans are receptive to new and
emerging flavors which is a significant
point of difference versus BRIC markets
which tend to remain glued to traditional
eating habits and choices.
13 Different Trade Channels
USA retail business exceeds 1 trillion
dollars, through 13 unique trade
channels. Each USA trade channel
maintains a unique set of buying practices
and selling experts. 40,000 supermarkets
account for half of the food business,
followed by 4,000 Supercenters (primarily
Walmart), and 1,400 high volume Club
stores. Gourmet food stores such as
Whole Foods and ethnic supermarkets
represent core outlets for international
brands. Sales via the internet are an
emerging, high growth, channel offering
visibility and availability. Homesick
expatriates and food enthusiasts now
discover hard to find products instantly
online versus the historical approach of
hauling overweight suitcases from trips
overseas. Foodservice is an enormous
channel, but focused on commodity
products produced in the USA.
Three Phase Approach: Crawl, Walk, Run
Too many international brands are
misaligned with a focus to sell to Walmart
or even Kroger before they have
established a meaningful track record
with other retailers. A key insight is a
finely tuned strategy focused on winning
with a few high potential, trend setting
retailers prior to approaching the
“Giants.” Normally, we recommend
initial focus on ethnic and gourmet
retailers such as Whole Foods and Fresh
Market. After success, consider expansion
to upscale supermarket chains such as
Wegman’s and Gelson’s. Phase III should
provide a track record and investment
base to approach mass retailers such as
Walmart, Kroger, and Safeway.
Who is Your Food Broker?
Food brokers dominate sales through
the USA supermarket channel. Brokers
provide critical mass and local
relationships. Services include key
account sales, category analysis, trade
marketing, and essential retail coverage.
Store level representation is mandatory
to insure compliance with headquarter
authorized plans. Brokers range in size
from the massive “Big 3” which feature
more than 20,000 employees each to
smaller specialists focused against one
retailer. Export Solutions’ database tracks
over 566 brokers covering all markets and
channels. Leading USA importers partner
with brokers to provide the local expertise
and store merchandising services
required to succeed.
Calibrate Expectations to Investment
Imagine approaching Carrefour, Metro,
or Tesco with a new brand with “net, net
pricing” and limited marketing support.
The USA market is no different, with a
menu of account specific programs
required to build your brand. If you don’t
invest, you will always be anchored to
niche status at best. Retailers such as
Costco with their demo programs and
Shop Rite retain good reputations for
delivering incremental cases for your
trade spending.
Success Stories:
Barilla, Bonne Maman, and Walkers
Case studies exist for international brands
to successfully develop the USA market.
Barilla is the USA’s leading pasta brand.
Success strategy included building a USA
factory to offer competitive pricing,
highlighting their Italian heritage, and
alignment with a leading USA food
broker. Bonne Maman and Walker’s
trajectory followed patient paths. Both
brands built a base in the upscale retail
sectors, before moving mainstream to
USA: Bigger than BRIC?
continued on next page
mass availability. A core message was
the ability to upgrade category sales and
profits with a high quality, premium
option. Both companies invest in having
USA based sales managers versus
managing via remote control from
Europe. Other European brands have
developed massive businesses through
unique programs dedicated to Costco.
USA Business – Next Level Strategies
European brands frequently hire Export
Solutions to provide insights on taking
their current USA business to the “next
level.” Our sales oriented approach
involves market analysis, “lessons learned”
and recommendations of sensible options
to grow your business. Suggestions
normally include laser focus on brand
building at high potential customers
plus best route to market partners
(importers/brokers) by trade channel.
The USA still offers tremendous growth
opportunities for many international
brands. USA success requires the same
formula as BRIC markets. Higher levels of
investment may be required to win in the
USA. However, market dynamics are more
transparent than BRIC and purchasing
power ranks among the highest in the
world. Contact Greg Seminara at
gseminara@exportsolutions.com for more
information on taking your USA business
to the next level.
USA: Bigger than BRIC?
continued from previous page
Good USA Chains for International Brands
Retailer Type Sales (billions $) Stores
Ahold-Delhaize Supermarket 56 2,050
HEB - USA Supermarket 32 355
Meijer Supercenter 23 260
Wakefern/Shop Rite Supermarket 18 361
Whole Foods Gourmet 17 510
Hy Vee Supermarket 12 285
Giant Eagle Supermarket 11 216
Wegmans Supercenter 11 106
Harris Teeter Supermarket 8 260
Sprouts Gourmet 6 370
Raleys Supermarket 4 126
Fresh Market Gourmet 1.8 159
World Market Gourmet 1.0 242
Gelsons Supermarket 0.8 27
Kings Supermarket 0.4 19
Everyone wants to sell to Walmart.
This is logical, as they rank as the
number one retailer in the USA and
Latin America, plus good presence
in the UK, China, Japan, and South
Africa. Walmart’s International business
(outside the USA) is bigger than the total
turnover of Carrefour or Tesco. Selling
to countries where Walmart has stores
makes sense for USA producers.
However, Export Solutions always advocates a strategy of making export
decisions based upon what’s best for the entire country, versus the preferences of an
individual retailer, even if it is Walmart.
Walmart’s Central American buyers have been speed dialing leading brands pursuing
direct purchase agreements. These offers may be hard to resist, but manufacturers must
be fully aware of the implications. Selling direct to Walmart International allows you to
bypass the “distributor system.” This provides Walmart with a cost advantage at store
level of around 15%. This may create a situation where it is difficult to sell to other
market customers, because their list price resembles Walmart’s shelf price.
I visited Guatemala and Costa Rica recently. Walmart places many Direct Import brands
in one aisle, away from the product’s normal category placement. These Direct Import
brands are not supported by the armies of in-store merchandisers that are common in
Latin America. I remember the story of when I served as Director of Sales for Clorox in
Buenos Aires, Argentina. Someone from corporate sold my favorite Hidden Valley Ranch
salad dressing to Walmart International and it magically appeared on the shelves of my
Walmart. I was thrilled, but apparently was the only happy customer. Most in Argentina
had never heard of Hidden Valley Ranch. Without advertising, promotion, and
distributor support, the brand gathered dust and was discontinued.
I am an advocate of partnering with distributors to sell to Walmart’s international
divisions. These local companies sell and merchandise at Walmart and all market
customers everyday. Distributors focus on brand building and can provide the muscle
at store level to push your brand. Retailers benefit because they can reorder any day
versus waiting for the container to arrive from the USA. In my opinion, the distributor
model is usually the preferred route to market to create a sustainable business in these
fast growing countries.
Many European companies are anxious to sell to Walmart's 3,571 USA supercenters.
Slow down! Walmart’s USA supercenters specialize in category leaders and fast moving
brands. Their consumer base consists of middle and lower income customers who have
limited spending power to purchase super premium brands from overseas. Also,
Walmart tends to be the “low price” leader. This may damage your ability to sell to
upscale supermarkets, as they may be hesitant to stock an item that Walmart is carrying
and selling for 15-25% less. My humble advice for European brands is to create a base
business with mid-upscale USA supermarket chains. Approach Walmart at a later stage
with your track record of market success.
Walmart is the world’s number one retailer and will serve as a major factor in our
strategic decisions. It is flattering and encouraging that Walmart wants to sell our
brands. The key is to devise the optimal route to market that builds your brand equity
and facilitates your business development to all market customers, including Walmart.
“Spend Time Selling to Distributors versus Searching for Distributors”
Selling to Walmart When and How?
Greg Seminara
Strategic Services
Contact Us for
Export Solutions
1. Identify Best in Class
Distributors: 96 Countries
2. Best Practices
Export Strategy
3. Distributor Management
4. Export 101:
Let’s Get Started
5. New Market
and Launch Plan
6. Personal Distributor
96 Countries
7. Walmart International
8. Distributor Contracts,
Margins, and Fees
9. Meeting Speaker
10. International
Strategy Expert
Strategic Services
Contact Us for
Export Solutions
1. Identify Best in Class
Distributors: 96 Countries
2. Best Practices
Export Strategy
3. Distributor Management
4. Export 101:
Let’s Get Started
5. New Market
and Launch Plan
6. Personal Distributor
96 Countries
7. Walmart International
8. Distributor Contracts,
Margins, and Fees
9. Meeting Speaker
10. International
Strategy Expert
The USA represents the world’s largest market. A small market
share in the USA can represent a bigger business than owning a
50% market share in a smaller country. Many international
brands fail to reach their potential in the USA as they treat it as
just another export market. Listed below are Export Solutions’
ten tips for improving your results in the USA, a consumer
market of 333 million people.
1. Develop a Channel Strategy
The USA Food business is segmented into 13 channels, with
supermarkets claiming an average of 52% of the business. Other
important channels include Supercenters, Mass, Foodservice,
Value, Club, Convenience, Natural, Gourmet, Internet, Military,
Gift, and Ethnic. One strategy is to concentrate efforts on winning
in one channel to gain traction, versus spreading efforts in too