Is it every product entrepreneur’s dream to have their product sold at Walmart? Well, the retail dominator announced a new contest last January, called the “Get on the Shelf” contest. The company wanted to find the next “It” product.
Some are calling the contest a form of Crowd Sourcing and there’s no doubt it has created a great deal of success for Walmart.com on Google search, Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites. Necessity is the mother of invention, and this might have been spawned by the pressure Amazon is putting on all brick and mortal retailers. They’re all going to have to more creative and innovative if they want to survive the Amazon wave. When Google decides (Google profits down last quarter) to get into the online retail shopping business, the scene will be set.
“For a long time, the ability to get a product into a retail store was at the sole discretion of the store buyer. Today, we are removing these barriers by giving anyone a chance to launch their product at Walmart and reach millions of shoppers nationwide.”
This is long overdue really. A contest like this is a superb way of stimulating the entrepreneurial, design, production and sales skills of thousands of potential companies and inventors. It’s something only Walmart is capable of doing. And contests are being used well today to leverage the power of social media and Google search.
The winner of the 2012 contest was a bottled water product called Human Kind. It’s really just another bottled water product – drawn from pure spring water wells of course. The bottle design is clean and simple, yet the label is questionable (an opportunity for a graphic designer to provide some brand lift for Humankind.
The key point of differentiation is that this Philadelphia-based company gives all of its profit (100%) to fund wells and filtration systems for countries that have unclean water. Contaminated water is a top source of deadly disease in these regions of the world. The company says bad water kills more children daily than AIDS, malaria, measles and warfare COMBINED.
So, it’s not always the product itself that’s the issue. 1 Million+ people voted and Humankind was the one they liked best. The value the voters wanted was to feel good — to express their sharing values and be generous to the less fortune. Humankind water made them feel good about contributing to the greater benefit of all. That might be an important signal for branding and promotional sales people, especially with a commodity type product. In this case, the plastic bottles have a non earth-friendly connotation. What better way to get over that hurdle?
The Walmart Dream
For some companies, getting their products sold through the Walmart/Sam’s Club chain could translate into multimillion dollar profits. Of course, Walmart negotiates tough to drive down their supplier or vendor prices. They and their rivals Costco, are known for being demanding and playing tough with vendors and suppliers. Having a great product idea is just the start. Finding a way to ramp up production and reduce per unit costs is always doable, in fact, Walmart says they would help out. The key to getting on Walmart shelves is a winning value proposition presented through your well-designed packaging.
The winner of the contest receives a vague promise of having their products on prime shelf space in some Walmart stores. For Humankind, it’s an opportunity. From there they have the ability to make the most of that shelf visibility by using packaging with self impact and perhaps innovating in their use of custom displays and POP advertising.
TV advertising is very expensive and pushing the product through distribution channels can break you, but good packaging design is free.
The Humankind brand as it was presented to contest voters was undeveloped and therefore looked more credible and sincere. Would they have voted for a slick graphic design with polished tagline? The plastic bottle was ultra simple, unlike the bottled water designs consumers buy here (Evian, Nestle, Volvic, Perrier, Aquafina). The company played the contest well.
On the Walmart shelves however, it will be up against big brand bottled water with powerful distribution capabilities, powerful branding and promotional budgets, and lower prices.
Need to spruce up your packaging? Look into blister packaging and plastic clamshells as value added packaging. They’re great for creating value packs and exposing your product on retail shelves. It’s all about generating more visibility.
Get the best packaging results possible with a full service packaging company. From packaging graphics to copacking to distribution, full service can help better business efficiencies and help ensure your campaigns go off without a hitch.
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