Chefs Without Restaurants

Mastering the Grocery Aisle: Tony Moore on Food and Beverage Marketing

November 15, 2023 Chris Spear Season 5 Episode 212
Chefs Without Restaurants
Mastering the Grocery Aisle: Tony Moore on Food and Beverage Marketing
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Show Notes Transcript

This week on Chefs Without Restaurants we're diving into the world of food and beverage marketing with Tony Moore. Tony, a seasoned marketing executive and the host of the "Winning at Work" podcast, brings his extensive experience, sharing invaluable insights into the intricacies of brand marketing in the food industry.

Episode Highlights
Understanding Grocery Store Product Placement: Tony shares strategies for effective product placement in grocery stores and the role of brand ambassadors.

Direct-to-Consumer Marketing Challenges: Insights into the difficulties brands face in direct-to-consumer approaches, including shipping costs.

Building Brand Loyalty: Tony discusses the importance of maintaining product quality and consistent branding.

Leveraging Influencer Marketing: The rise of food influencers and the potential of affiliate marketing in promoting food products.

Adapting to Market Changes: Tony sheds light on navigating the challenges faced by smaller brands in a market dominated by private labels and larger competitors.

TONY MOORE
The Winning at Work Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and everywhere else
Tony Moore on LinkedIn and Instagram

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Chris Spear:

When you go to the grocery store, what are the specific brands you almost always purchase? Have you ever thought about why you're loyal to those specific brands and products? Of course, it could be the quality. I've said many times how dedicated I am to Heinz ketchup. I don't want hunts. I don't want your low sugar ketchup. I don't want your healthy ketchup made with beets. And I don't want to restaurants housemade ketchup, I just want Heinz. Today we're diving into the world of food and beverage marketing with Tony more seasoned marketing, executive and host of the winning at work podcast. We'll explore a range of topics from the importance of product placement in the grocery store, to the role of brand ambassadors. Whether you have a CPG product or you're simply someone who grocery shops. I think you'll find this episode enlightening, educational and entertaining. This is Chris spear and you're listening to Chefs Without Restaurants The show where I speak with culinary entrepreneurs and people working in the food and beverage industry outside of a traditional restaurant setting. I have 31 years of working in kitchens but not restaurants and currently operate a personal chef business throwing dinner parties in the Washington DC area. This episode is a companion piece. Last month I sat down with Tony to record a double session. I was a guest on his podcast, and now he's a guest on mine. Between the two shows we talked about similar topics, but the episodes are still very different. If you'd like to hear my episode of winning at work, you can find it linked in the show notes. I wanted to talk to Tony for a number of reasons. I know a lot of the people in the Chefs Without Restaurants community actually have products to sell or are maybe thinking about getting into that arena. It could be a line of spices vinegars, hot sauces, kombucha, there are literally 1000s of options. A couple times during our conversation, Tony use the expression different better and special. If you're going to have a product like this, what makes your product different, better and special, because that's what you're going to need to stand out. I wanted to make sure we didn't use too much industry jargon in this episode. If you're not from this side of things, there are a couple abbreviations you might need to know. One is CPG, which stands for consumer packaged goods. So think of that as almost anything you'd find in a grocery store or retail store. Potato chips, soda, things of that nature, healthy things too. And one of the other ones is DTC which is direct to consumer, DTC could be something you buy on Amazon or directly from a business's website. In this episode, I mentioned Massey and a couple times their brand that used to be strictly DTC. When I wanted their masa, I had to buy it directly from their website, and they sent it to me in the mail. Now, you can still do that, but they're also in grocery stores like Whole Foods. Tony will shed light on how brands can stand out in grocery store aisles and the effectiveness of customer feedback and shaping product development. We discussed the rise of the food influencer and affiliate marketing, examining how brands can leverage these strategies for growth and consumer engagement. This will talk about adapting to market changes. Tony sheds light on navigating the challenges faced by smaller brands and a market already dominated by private labels and larger competitors. If you've liked this type of content, I highly recommend checking out Tony's podcast winning at work for more in depth look at how other brands are dealing with some of these challenges. And talking about brands direct to consumer and affiliate marketing. One of the ways that I found the Chefs Without Restaurants community and podcast is with affiliate links and sponsorships. If you go to chefs without restaurants.com forward slash sponsors, you can find some of the brands that I love working with. I have affiliate links to Masienda, corto, olive oil, TRUFF hot sauce, and a few others. When you buy items using those links. Quite often you save money because I get some awesome discount codes. But I also get a small commission which goes back into this community. And while we're on the topic of sponsors if you'd like to be a sponsor of the show, reach out to me at chefs without restaurants@gmail.com This week's episode is sponsored by the United States personal chef association. So the episode will be coming right up after a word from the USPCA. Are you a personal chef looking for support and growth opportunities? Look no further than the United States personal chef association with 1000 members across the US and Canada. USPCA provides liability insurance certification lead generation and more. Consumers can trust that their meal experience is insured and supported by USPCA. And now until November 30th save $100 on premier provisional and preparatory memberships by using the code EarlyBlackFriday23 at uspca.com. Plus, if you have products or services to sell chefs and their clients showcase your business on hire a chef and the USPSA websites with our great introductory packages. To learn more about membership advertising or partnership opportunities. Call Angela at 1-800-995-2138 extension 705 or email aprather@uspca.com Hey Tony, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on.

Tony Moore:

Chris it It's great to talk to you again.

Unknown:

Yes. For our listeners, we just recorded a podcast episode, Tony has his own podcast, which I was on. It's called winning at work. Not sure when that's going to release, but we will definitely link those things up in show notes so everyone can hear the other side. Although most of my listeners have probably heard me talk enough. So we're here to talk to you and hear your story. Why don't we just jump in? I'd like to start with a podcast part. Can you tell us about your podcast what you talk about? And then we'll kind of work backwards from there a little bit? Well,

Tony Moore:

sure. Well, winning at work is for initially for food and beverage professionals. It has evolved over time, we're trying to bring in more foodies now, because who better to really enjoy and appreciate the quality products that are being made and put out by the Food and Beverage professionals than foodies. So we're really now really kind of marketing it more to foodies. But it's been such a fantastic journey for me, because, you know, I've got now we said, on my podcast, we said, we don't date ourselves. So I just can't say it's a habit, I can't date myself. I have been in, you know, executive search talent acquisition for my career. And I wanted to break into a new industry. And I had some friends that were in food and beverage, and it was fascinating to me, that no matter what's happening in the economy, food beverage rolls on. So I thought this was a pretty stable place, of course, we learned there are some challenges when things in the world disrupt, you know, food service can get crushed. But still, by and large, you know, grocery was still strong. So I knew food and beverage was a place I wanted to be in. And with my skill of being super curious and being super, you know, gregarious, I had no problem talking to strangers. And we just went after I just went after founders and executives, of every type of CPG, direct to consumer food service distributor. And over the course of the past three and a half, almost four years, I just did this deep dive into understanding the industry, what makes it work? What makes certain brands different, better and special? Why are they succeeding where others are failing. And it was just like, for me drinking from a firehose, and my eyes were just so open to just how incredibly challenging, you know, this space is. And so that's, you know, what we've been dishing out for the space is the great food, and then the brands and the stories and the people behind the brands in the mission.

Chris Spear:

So you're talking of founders and people behind brands of products, you would typically find and say a grocery store, you're not, you know, because you said foodies, but you're not necessarily talking like restaurant chefs and people on food trucks like I am, you're looking more at brands and products that you'd find in market, correct.

Tony Moore:

Yes, that's the that's the pivot, I guess you'd say is, is that that very discerning consumer? Like I traveled recently to California, and I discovered Gelson Do you ever have you ever been to garsons?

Chris Spear:

Now never heard of it?

Tony Moore:

This is a most the most gorgeous grocery store you've ever been into? It is or the Cheyenne? Yes, it's only in Southern California. I think they have like 20 locations. And for brands that are launching in California, that is where they want to be particularly if they have a you know, a high end functional product. My wife and I walked in there and we're in a small North Carolina town right now. We have a low end, ingles. So we went there. And we literally felt like hillbillies. Like, if you had seen our faces, you know, we were just totally you know, kind of awestruck at just the product placement and the beauty and all the food and all the you know, in store restaurants that they had, it was amazing. I mean, Chris, this is just phenomenal.

Chris Spear:

I love that I you know, there's two types of ways and reasons I go grocery shopping these days. There's the very functional, I've got dinner parties this weekend. I might not even go in the store. I'm going to Instacart most of the stuff and then there's the days where it's just like I've got some time I want to be inspired you know, I haven't maybe walked around this particular store before you know, it's a whole like we don't even have whole foods where I live which is insane. I have to drive like 30 miles. Yeah, I live in the DC area. If I drive half an hour, I could go to 50 Whole Foods, but I don't have one closer than 35 minutes from me so makes no sense. Like that's a treat for me. So every once in a while I'll go and just like see what's new on the shelves. You know, we're talking about how mossy and I love their masa products and I used to have to buy it in the mail and now they're in Whole Foods like That's amazing. So for me it's worth it to go down there and stock up I get my Bianco tomatoes, you know, the things that I don't have here in Frederick, even though we're the second largest city in Maryland, so I love kind of going I'd say window shopping but I end up Yes. So it's not really window shopping at that point if we're raishin Yes, brand So I love that

Tony Moore:

totally, totally. And that's what I really want to do more of I do have someone on my marketing team and she lives in California, I'm gonna have her do more of that for me. But I think if you look at like a sprouts, if you look at natural markets and others, they will have a section for like these emerging brands, and you can see them. And for these entrepreneurs that make it in their, there, they realized very quickly, what they thought was 80% of the work, just to get in there actually is only 20% of the work, it took 20% of their effort to get in. Now 80% of the work is remaining, how to get the consumer to buy the product, that's what's so challenging for them. And,

Chris Spear:

you know, what have you seen or learned about? market it? You know, like packaging, and thinking before I go food and grocery stores like I think about beer now, like you buy beer based on the label, like can art is special, right? Like, I feel like you go in any beer store now. Maybe not where you are, we go in and there's like 5000 cans and like, I'm so overwhelmed, I don't even know what to do. And you just buy one that has like the cool looking art and in some regards, it's the same I feel when you go in the grocery store and I'm looking at, you know, pasta and beyond the Barilla and the store brand like how do you stand out if you're a smaller new brand that maybe people haven't been aware of? Well, that's

Tony Moore:

definitely one of the takeaways that that I've had was first of all, how do brands compete on shelf you know how in Yes, you have just literally seconds you know to grab a consumers attention like you say with the beer, there are literally 50 Different brands so yes, you're gonna read the label you're gonna look at you know, what's in it you might look at you know, the ABV to see Is it strong is it week you know, that might, you might be dry, you might gravitate toward you know, an IPA or a pilsner. So you kind of know how to filter things down. And I think that's how it is for consumers, they know they're looking for something, and you have to make sure you are messaging right away what your special mission or purpose is. So for example, I've had some brands that they are wanting to reduce the amount of sugar. So it's very, very clear, like no sugar added, that that's the main message that they want the consumer to get inside of half a second. So maybe that's important to them and their family. So then that catches their eye, and then they're going to look at the brand. Now here's the interesting part. In retail. If if you're a company and you want to have a presence in retail, you might consider expanding your skews to have multiple flavors, so you have a broader shelf presence in one place, rather than I want to have no sugar, but I want to do it in tomato sauce. And I want to do it in bars over on the cereal aisle. And in I don't know a condiment. Well

Chris Spear:

how much does the brand have control over that versus the store because I'm still kind of annoyed that my grocery store this might go to change their layout last year and I still can't find anything and things are not in places where they make sense to me. And as you talk about specialty things let's say you have tomato sauce and you're no sugar added Well now they might have taken that and put that in the natural section. So I'm going down the aisle looking for marinara sauce I've got the prey goes and raccoons and the Rouse and whatever but this other brand is a natural they have no preservatives they have no sugar and they've decided to put them in the quote unquote like natural foods section. I'm not I'm not looking there. I'm not going to find it you know and I think that's one of the challenges too is placement in the store. My Store will put things in very random places where they decide this product is going on an end cap but it's the end cap of an aisle I don't go down why is my salsa? Not with salsa but it's with some other thing you know, I'm sure you encounter that. Yeah, I

Tony Moore:

think that's that's by design that they want to be in a particular place in the store.

Chris Spear:

I think that maybe you're losing out on some potential business for someone who's not actively seeking that out. And but then there's other products that are double exposed to because I have seen that thing where maybe that let's go back to that marinara sauce. They might have like one row in the marinara sauce aisle but then have a bigger display over in the natural food sections.

Tony Moore:

Yes, he did to me that cut that's that hurts the brand in my opinion because when you're a shopper and you go down and you see one SKU two flavors, it looks really small on shelf. Go down the snack aisle. You sit once someone mentioned this to me, I was totally blown away. Cheez Its have been around for over 100 years. I was like what? Really?

Chris Spear:

I never would have guessed by the way, my all time number one favorite snack. We talked about it on your podcast about Yes, I know that. I would crush a whole box right now I can't buy a box without almost eating a whole box. in one setting, and how many flavors do they have? Probably 12. Yeah, now it used to be just regular and then they branched into like a low fat and now it's like there's like the duo's and there's a bacon one or it's like a bacon cheddar box and all this stuff. Yeah, they've totally expanded Oreos. Oh my god. Why do we need we don't need in my opinion 16 flavors of Oreos right now because again, the originals the best. I don't like the double stuff too much cream. I don't like the thins the cookies not big enough. I think they nailed it the first time. I don't want pumpkin spice Oreos. I definitely hate the vanilla ones. But no, I liked the vanilla. Don't want to get sidetrack there. I love the cheese. It's 100 years old. This

Tony Moore:

one said, No, but you bring up a good point. And this is something that I want to make very clear. These are your multi national enormous brands. Okay. So what they do, and all retailers charge slotting fees. So these these brands have to pay to be on shelf. So if I'm Nabisco, or I'm Kellogg's, and I've got this fantastic brand, and people love me, if they can buy that whole shelf, that is that fewer spots that these other challenger brands can come in. So I do think that's kind of a double edge or kind of a strategy that they use, yes, we're going to introduce more skews to keep our consumers happy. But the more space they buy, and the more they push, that's just smaller and smaller and smaller space, which is why they may have to go to natural you're not going to find the cheese it on the natural side. Now, I do want to say, so when these brands eat these emerging brands, they do get into a Gelson. Or they get into a fresh market someplace they're really, really excited about. You can't just rely on your packaging. You know, yes, you've got to kind of tie into what does that store do for its customer like I shop at Publix when I'm in Atlanta, and Publix, they're known for their BOGO days. So if you want to attract a customer, you better play in their trade promotion. So they've got the BOGOs Yes, it's going to cost you an arm and a leg, you're going to lose money. But it doesn't go on for a long time. But someone will try and sample you. Now, outside of a BOGO or, you know, kind of special shopper days. It's in store demos, Chris. That's the that's the key for the CPG brands and beverage brands. You've got to do brand ambassadors are those in store demos.

Chris Spear:

I don't see any besides Costco, I can't remember the last time someone was in a grocery store, I shopping, sampling anything, except for when I go to Costco and Trader Joe's has like that little station where they have like the coffee. And there's usually one or two things there. But none of the stores I shop at do sampling at all that I've ever seen.

Tony Moore:

Well, now that we've mentioned it, I've guaranteed you're probably going to start looking for it more and more. And Costco does have it they do have an internal program. But you'll find a lot of sampling at these smaller kind of co op and natural grocery stores, they definitely use it, I think it is harder and your big, big chains, just because of like all the new rules around things that happened a couple years ago, they're kind of funny about the food. So that has hurt I think brands, but really that is the key is getting getting a brand ambassador at a store kind of labeled up, you know, wearing some logos, having a beautiful table with your beverages out there, you know, encouraging people to come up and try and engage that customer I mean, liquid to lips. That is that is how it sells if you're not selling liquid, you know, it's links to lips, whatever it whatever you're selling, you gotta get it in the mouth.

Chris Spear:

What percentage of businesses I mean, I'm sure you don't know, but like, how many of them have brand ambassadors like percentage wise? Is it something that's standard is a rarity? Is it growing? I mean, what are you seeing with

Tony Moore:

that? What's an excellent question? I don't know if you know this, but that's actually one of our, like, primary revenue models, you know, that I've uncovered is that these brands do need a brand ambassador. So we actually go out and recruit and interview and get brand ambassadors to go in these locations. So I think you're very small companies, they do their own sampling, so the owner so it's, you know, you understand this, you know, you have you hustle quite a bit I know your listeners know, it's, you know, you've got a great format that what you're doing, but That's you, right, you're going and you're doing it so for a lot of these, you know entrepreneurs, they are the first ones that do it, but now I will I will challenge you think about a farmers market.

Chris Spear:

I was just farmers market was the first thing on the tip of my mind because like we have a I've recently switched somewhat to decaf coffee and at the market last year there was a new company and they exclusively do decaf coffee. You know, it's literally the husband and wife who are the owners. They're there at the tent. Of course. What do they have? They have airpots full of their decaf coffee. Hey, are you interested in decaf? Oh, actually I am. Although I don't think there's a great decaf. You got to try our stuff here have a cup. You know, there's a this season, there's a new kombucha company and they're there with their draft guns and they've got their, you know, four kinds and you can have if you want all four samples of that and try the kombucha and then you end up buying a $9 bottle of kombucha you know, and instead of

Tony Moore:

the three shifts you use right now, Chris? Yeah, it really is. Yeah,

Chris Spear:

I'm drinking my kombucha right now. off camera here. So I've got mine. Yeah, Kombucha

Tony Moore:

is huge fermentation, there's a lot of a lot of people are entering that whole gut health space, that's a space that's just seems to be going, you know, from products to supplement that that's crazy. But yeah, you'll see a lot of sampling there. And it, it's so important, because the founders or whoever's involved, you know, in r&d, they're getting that immediate feedback. I was recently over in Asheville, I drove a couple hours over to meet with a client and she was going to do some sampling, I wanted to be there with her. Because I wanted to really see, you know, her operation and how it worked. And she's got six skews, but you'll want we only had four that day, and one of them was not doing well. And you could see right away, when people tried it, it didn't go. But the others great feedback, consumers were talking. And as we were selling right there, people were buying buying it right off the table, I would do it, this was a beverage, I'd go over to the beverage, I'll take them from the shelf cold and bring them back to the table so we could sell more. And that one was not moving, and it was fully stocked. And the other ones were wearing down. So now she can see. Now she knows this thing is these other three are really moving. And when she goes to reorder or works without buyer, you know, maybe she just doesn't use that shelf space.

Chris Spear:

So is there any discussion about why it's not buying? Like, is there an interaction with the customer saying, hey, out of curiosity, is there could you tell me why you're not interested in this? Or if you sample that, like what it is like, because that is an opportunity. And you know, not everyone's going to be truthful and say, you know, oh, it's just not my biased or whatever. Yeah, no, I

Tony Moore:

mean, yes, they don't want to offend or anything like that. But you could see the faces they would they would they crinkle their nose or something like that one. They don't like that one. It had some and I'm like surely even saying this, right? Really, boys. It was

Chris Spear:

the rooibos tea. Yeah, it's like African bark.

Tony Moore:

Bingo. And it's, it's very nuanced. It's got a lot of different layers, lots of different dimension, I love it. And see, there you go. But she you've got a sophisticated palette. So you would appreciate that. But other people were drawn to the, you know, the lemon lime, or the ginger. It was they understood it. And so there you go, it's kind of knowing, you know, your market. So. So that's hugely important. And that's why, in some ways, you know, direct consumer is great for a brand to kind of figure out what consumers like how to position it. But at the same time, it's very hard to say, say, to sell DTC beverage, because you got to pay for shipping.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, it's like any, anytime you have to pay, I mean, there are a lot of products that I love, that I paid for shipping, again, going back to this masa product, you know, when I first started getting it, a bag, you know, I'm just gonna throw out rough numbers, like a two pound bag was like $8. And then it's like,$7 shipping. So it's now like,$15. Now that they're in Whole Foods, it's literally the same price I think it might be, it's probably like $2 more. So it's probably like $6 from their website, and like now $8 at Whole Foods, but I'm not paying the shipping on that, you know, I've ordered Rancho Gordo beans, all these things that I really love. And these brains, I like supporting the grits coming from South Carolina. But the shipping is what kills it. Because quite often it's double, if not more than the actual price of the product. And that gets hard. It's a hard pill to swallow, you know, to end up paying that then you factor in the cost and this, you know, $3 a pound masa is now six or $7 a pound.

Tony Moore:

Yeah, the cost of shipping. On top of all the other, you know, increases, you know, are the inputs that keep going up to make a product, make direct to consumer challenging, particularly if you have a heavy product, but and I wanted to say this too, because I know, you know, there's a lot of listeners out there that they think they've got a great idea, and they want to bring it to market. Right? I mean, that's naturally like, Can this go? I think one of the great things about direct to consumer particularly say the Amazon space, is you can research your idea to see what products exist in your category or in your idea. So when you're searching, you might not find a lot of great options out there. So that kind of gives you a tip like, this is an underserved space and look at how with the few that are out there, look how they're being positioned. What we have, or what we're envisioning would be so much better than this. So it kind of gives you a clue as well. I know companies that literally they go whitespace hunting.

Chris Spear:

Interesting. They so they don't, they don't come out saying I want to make a chili spice, they look at things that are lacking in the market, reverse engineer and then say there isn't this, let's make that. Yes.

Tony Moore:

And I do think that if again, this is from talking to many people who who've been successful and who've also lost and not had direct to consumer work, is they'll they've made something and then they try to find out, well, where can I put it, who needs it. And they've discovered, it's almost better to, like you say, kind of reverse engineer it, like we're doing something pretty special. Here, we've got a product or we have some kind of functional ingredient, you know, like ashwagandha has been pretty popular. You know, I know, it's tricky to put claims out there for calming and you know, these kinds of things. So you kind of have to be careful with how you label things. But I think consumers are getting pretty smart, you know, they they might see an adaptogen and they can go research it. And it's like studies show or studies suggest, you know, kind of let it speak for itself without you putting the claim out there. Because eventually you might get crushed when the FDA. So that's

Chris Spear:

really hard though, because like I have a friend who sells. He works for all these functional mushroom companies. And they have mushroom teas and mushroom coffees and things of that nature. And they're not supposed to talk about the health benefits. But if you're selling a coffee for, you know,$20 a pound when good coffee already exists at a half the price point, what is the selling point, if the if the selling point, what you're trying to do is convince them that it's good for you, and that there's health properties without saying that there's health property. So then it's interesting, the way you kind of have to tiptoe around that from a marketing standpoint. But

Tony Moore:

Chris, some people don't tiptoe around it. Some people just go ahead and make the claim.

Chris Spear:

And a lot of it's anecdotal. I mean, he says, My wife had diabetes. And she started drinking this product. And she stopped taking metformin and has lost weight. Like we're not making a health claim. We're just saying my wife was overweight, she started taking this product, she lost weight, she is now not on diabetes medicine. Take that as a testimonial. It's a testimonial and working on testimonials like that. So yeah, I want to I want to backtrack on something while it's on my mind. And I hadn't even really thought about this. But it's something that I find a little frustrating when we talk about, you know, the number of you know, whatever products whether it be pretzels or something in the store stalks, the rise of the store brand because I don't always think it's bad. I mean, someone's obviously co packing for them anyway. And it's probably a good product. But I think when you have a product that you love, and you're there systematically being removed from stores that only one brand and I'm going to talk about hummus because my favorite brand for years was tribe hummus can't find it anywhere because I feel sobre one the commercial hummus wars and then every store now has their hummus you go to Wegmans, there's Wegmans makes tons of hummus. Safeway has hummus Weiss has hummus and then they're going to bring in one brand. And it's going to be sobre. And they're my least favorite hummus brand. I don't like the texture and the taste. And the one that I liked is essentially now gone from sources like one that must be crushing to a business because they used to be in every grocery store. But you're just seeing you know, I went into Wegmans the other day and now they don't have the Stacy's pita chips in the big bags. They have the Wegmans branded pita chips and they're they're not the same. So can you talk on that a little bit?

Tony Moore:

Well, it's really not an area that we've really discussed much on the podcast, but really sounds to me like that's a foodservice play now at this point, yeah, it's almost like, if you like, you've got all this manufacturing capability, you've been building this, you know, branded product, and now they're going with that store brand. You like you say you either have to go white label yourself, or you just take your great tasting stuff on to, you know, into the food service circuit. Now, that's hard,

Chris Spear:

though. Like it almost means like, you have to be the best of the best like of all the stores are now having store brands, it's like, I almost at times want to go to stores that don't have a store brand or don't have as many, because I do like seeing all those different things and not just necessarily getting the store brand of all that stuff. But I'm just seeing more of this, like the store having every single they're making ketchup, they're making hummus, they're making barbecue sauce, and then they're just gonna bring in, you know, a couple types of others and it's kind of like the cream rises to the top or whatever their strategy is. They're only going to bring in three barbecue sauces, and I like the one that's now not in any stores. Oh, that's not

Tony Moore:

a bad idea with the barbecue sauces because I'm sorry, I don't need 50 choices.

Chris Spear:

There are a lot of barbecue sauces. That one is overwhelming. Doubt

Tony Moore:

one isn't overwhelming. Now I'm not really sure I have an answer. for you on that one, I think it's obviously somehow a margin play for them. Yeah. It's got to be it's got to be good business for them. Oh,

Chris Spear:

I'm sure I mean, if you're packaging your own thing and then selling it at a lower price point, I mean, I grocery shop a lot based on price right. And some of those things don't matter. At the end of the day for most people, Stacy's pita chips Wegmans pita chips, they're about the same. If I can get the Wegmans one for $1.50 less a bag, I'm gonna get them right, I have no brand, which comes back to brand. And we talked about this when I was on your show, how do you build brand loyalty? And some brands do that really well, and some doubt and I think in what's becoming a crowded market, what's your marketing look like? And why are people loyal to your brand?

Tony Moore:

Well, well, I one of the reasons people will order your brand is they, they it doesn't change, it doesn't change. And that's what's been happening in the food system. They keep processing and reengineering. And taking out the good things and adding all the things in that aren't good. And suddenly your product has changed. But how if we do go back to the to the in store, kind of white labeled solution. Again, at Ingalls I believe they're there in store brand is called lens, if I'm not mistaken. And I don't see lens as a high quality brand. So there might be some products or categories that, let's say, like a noodle or pasta noodle, right? Maybe I'm going to spend more on a premium sauce. But I see these lens noodles. And I say, you know, there's not a whole lot of difference. So I'm gonna save a little bit of money into that. Now, if you go to a luxury grocery store, and I don't know what Gelson is, is, but I bet you the margins are incredible for Galson to have a white label brand in there made, you know, from a co Packer put under their name, because now it's a premium store. So they can they can charge that much more. Absolutely, I think, I think it is a I truly think that's, that's how maybe how they're combating inflation

Chris Spear:

is just something I know every time I go to the store, I noticed that quite often there's a brand that I love and have been loyal to, that's no longer there. And it's been replaced by storebrand.

Tony Moore:

Well, but listen, but there's been a lot of fallout, though. There's been a lot of fallout in the past couple years, it's not just brands that have disappeared, you've had, you know, great restaurants, lots of places have gone under, so there could be more to it, you know, than just

Chris Spear:

their swag. And maybe, you know, I don't investigate and maybe the brands like just cease to exist, like they're not even in business anymore. That's, ya know, always a possibility. It's very possibility

Tony Moore:

because particularly, what's what's happened is, the challenge is on the CO Packer side and on the distributor side, because your big big brands demand and get all the distribution runs that they need inside that CO Packer. So if you've got a smaller brand, and you can't offer them enough runtime ml cues is what they have, if you don't, if you can't meet that minimum threshold anymore, they're just going to replace you with the big brands so that they could be losing, you know, time in the CO Packer. And right now distributors have an incredible amount of power in this game. So you might have a great product, but the distributor is not willing to take on any more of it. And you're just shut out, you're shut out from the distributor.

Chris Spear:

I find this to be incredibly interesting. And, you know, when I worked in restaurants, you know, we dealt with like Cisco's and distribution houses and things of that nature. And the same thing, products that I wanted that were, you know, not available or supposedly available. And they just you could tell they didn't want to do the work to get it. You know, I had friends who had a local farm, and they have were, you know, raising the best pork and they said, Yes, we can do it through Cisco, but it's a drop ship. And just I could tell my company didn't want to do it because they weren't getting the the incentive prices, they would rather have us use a Hatfield product, which was a spec house, my distributor didn't really want to get it because it meant special ordering, even though I knew that you could get it. I felt like I was swimming upstream just trying to get this product. And then eventually I think the partnership didn't work out. And it was just worth it for them to just get it in local markets have their own delivery and not deal with the mass distribution.

Tony Moore:

And that has been the bane of so many of these food service providers or I should say manufacturers that want to get in. So this has been a real interesting conversation honestly, because do you as a salesperson, do you go around the distributor and piss them off and go to the restaurant and show them something different veterans special? You You're a great example. Someone sales rep, you know walks in to your nursing home facility or your you know, whatever facility you're in, I

Chris Spear:

can talk to you exactly about that. So when I worked at the retirement community, we were a Sodexo account Sodexo. I was contracted with Cisco. We are supposed to use spec products, Sodexo specs out, I get it. They want, you know, they have pricing specials they have, you know, whatever incentives for buying product. What we actually did was our general manager opened accounts under her name separately. And would we would pay the bills that way. So you know, there was a handful of places we used to like to buy things from or companies that we used to work with. And we would want them and we could not get them good because in the program couldn't get them in the program. My district manager for Sodexo wouldn't let us get them or Cisco didn't stalk them. So we actually had our client open up accounts with like a another small food distributor in town who did stock these products who didn't work with Sodexo accounts, and then we would just go to this warehouse, it was a small food purveyor in town, and then we would just take those invoices over and the client would direct pay them and it didn't go through CXOs procurement management. Maybe I'm exposing a big deal here. Like no one's heard this. But you know, that's the kind of things that first time you know, it was just things like, let's just say I like Duke's mayonnaise, and I hate like white label mayonnaise, I think it's gross. I've never had a white label mayonnaise, I like I'm a Dukes, Hellman's, or nothing kind of guy. But we're contracted to use like Cisco Imperial mayo, but we could get Dukes from performance food group. So like that was one of those things that we knew we were always going to get there. So we had like, dozens of items that we would not buy through Cisco, that we just called in an order. So you know, our PFG account was under our clients name, and we would order from them and get it. So this stuff has always been interesting to me and how it works. And I don't think these are things you really even know when you're just starting out in the food industry or even yours. No idea. It's like understanding how this all works. No,

Tony Moore:

exactly. It's almost like in beer, you know, the three tier system, it's kind of very similar in some ways with with food. But the advantage of food services that you can do incredible volume. And you don't have to go through the hoops of dealing with buyers and slotting fees and returns, as you do in retail and grocery. I've got a friend who is in food service. And I won't mention the name of the grocer, but they have a huge hot bar. And from what I understand, you can do millions, literally millions in revenue from one SKU on a hot bar. Now, you are talking about a great business now is it? You know, are you out there in r&d? Are you coming up with these great new products that? No, you're not, you know, it's a fantastic product that no one has any idea who the brand is behind it. Right. So it's totally, totally hidden. And I should I know we're talking about collaborations, but I should just say, if you've got people out there that are looking to get into something that they want to get on shelf or DTC. Truly, it's got to be different, better or special, it's got to absolutely taste phenomenal. And if you have a mission or purpose that really needs to become like the North Star of like, why you're doing it and messaging it. Like I had one brand, who his his mission was kind of to carry on his his mother's mission of bringing everyone to the table, it doesn't matter who you are, what your background is, you are coming to the table, and we are taking care of you. Now, he also has no very low sugar. But the mission behind the company is that table, and it resonates through everything that they say and is very clear. And that is what helps them on shelf. And I wanted to say that earlier, but I just throw it in there. Well, I

Chris Spear:

think that's actually a great place to leave the episode today. Because that's really great advice to anyone who's looking to start, you know, maybe getting into this, you know, area of food production. So if you're okay, I think that was kind of like your closing closing sentences there. Unless you have anything else is there anything else you want to leave our listeners with? Before we get out of here today? I will just

Tony Moore:

say one final thing food is so Instagrammable. And I it's not to say that you would make a product or have something that is Instagrammable. But I did have a guest on recently. And their food is so Instagrammable. And they have what's known as brand ambassadors or affiliates. And these are people who create UGC, user generated content. They all get their affiliate codes, and they'll make something they'll bake something using this product. And it's absolutely gorgeous. We'll take lots of pictures. It goes over Facebook, Instagram, and everyone's like, Oh my god, this is so great. And they'll see a little link like hey, if you'd like to buy this, click on this link. So they've they've have literally built an ambassador program with 2600 ambassadors. See, this is a small like four person team. Not only are they in Whole Foods, and they did launch and target, they have an army of influencers out there. micro micro, just, you know,

Chris Spear:

I do a lot of that I've told a lot of people, it's great side income, I mean, I have links that I put up, I actually have, like a partners page on my website. And it links out whether you know, some of it's through ShareASale. Some of it is people selling things on Amazon, and it's an Amazon storefront, and it's nice, oh, you bought the corto olive oil, cool, I get $18 Every time someone buys a box acordo olive oil, I'll talk numbers out there, it's part of their affiliate program through ShareASale, I literally don't have to do anything, the more you work, the more you get, if I make recipes with it, tag them and put the link, you know, in my Instagram bio, I'm gonna get more sales, but like, it's a product I use anyway. And if I can get 18 bucks every time someone buys a box of that oil, awesome, you know, that helps keep the podcast going.

Tony Moore:

What a huge that is that is absolutely perfect. That's exactly what if I was a chef I'd be doing is I would like show like, this is the meal I just made. It was fantastic. Look at all this. And I'd even have a list on the side. These could you you've mentioned several times and products that you are ordering, I would literally tag all those and have affiliate codes for all of them. Because how much nicer would that be? One button, and it loads into the Instacart? Yep.

Chris Spear:

been doing that for a while now. So it's a you know, it's a whole new world out there. And the food influencer is real. It is I still have to keep my date, I still have to keep my day and night job. So how's that level? Yeah, hey, that's,

Tony Moore:

you know, inflation is real. But I think it's the it's the genuineness of it. And that's what's so unique about it. My final comment on that program is that it takes a lot of work, but you have to nurture these ambassadors, and they become great feedback tools. For example, that olive oil company, maybe you know, that may not be the best example maybe you know, at certain temperatures, you know, it smokes too much or something they would want to bring you in to some kind of a panel. Chris, how have you been using it? How's it holding up? dieted. Maybe they can take it back into r&d, because you are their customer. So it's like you're the customer, but you're also the sales funnel. And companies that realize that and maximize that can expand their footprint and scale without actually having to hire people. Because you just you just pay them on percent of sales. Yeah.

Chris Spear:

And it's people who are usually already loyalty around like, I don't do this with anything I haven't used or love, right? It's like you use this product. You're like, oh, wow, like, I wonder if they have an affiliate program. Because I use it all the time. I'm already developing recipes with it, I'm already sharing, quite often a brand will reach out to me and want a recipe to share on their website. And I'm not already in their affiliate program. It's like, Whoa, I guess I'm missing the boat here. Because like, the brand likes what I'm creating, and I'm not getting anything for it. Like, I need to look into Hey, do you? Yeah, I'll love to share that recipe with you. Do you have an affiliate program? Bingo.

Tony Moore:

And actually, that's the strategy that these brands have is they go on Insta, and they see who is promoting us? Who is tagging us? And they'll DM them and say, Have you considered being part of our program? Because you obviously love our products? And we'd love your content?

Chris Spear:

Yes. Well, that's a whole other episode. We've touched on it across many episodes. But that the the affiliate partnership is something that I, you know, think I'll continue talking about because it's it's growing, and a lot of people have asked for that to be decoded a little bit. So I think that will be coming in the future. At some point. I think this was a great episode, I was really interested, I don't know, or hadn't known much about, you know, CPG and direct to consumer and that kind of stuff. And just kind of talking about, you know, getting into the nitty gritty about some of those grocery store items and such. So thanks so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it. Chris,

Tony Moore:

my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. And, you know, looking forward to doing another one with you at some point.

Chris Spear:

Yeah, sounds great. We'll get that on the books. And as always, this has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. Thanks so much, and have a great week. You're still here, the podcasts over. If you are indeed still here. Thanks for taking the time to listen to the show. I'd love to direct you to one place and that's chefs without restaurants.org. From there, you'll be able to join our email newsletter. Get connected in our free Facebook group, and join our personal chef catering and food truck database so I can help get you more job leads. And you'll also find a link to our sponsor page where you'll find products and services I love. You pay nothing additional to use these links, but I may get a small commission which helps keep the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast and organization running. You might even get a discount for using some of these links. As always, you can reach out to me on Instagram at Chefs Without Restaurants or send me an email at chefs without restaurants@gmail.com Thanks so much.

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