Over the past few years, we’ve seen a recurring trend of consumers that are drawn to small, emerging, innovative brands rather than large legacy companies. Every consumer is different, of course, but the general feel is that small challenger brands offer advantages as a supplier that some larger brands simply can’t match.

This is great news for brands currently selling at Walmart, or looking to launch at Walmart for the first time. As an emerging challenger brand, your consumer goods can actually leverage your small outsider status to strengthen your pitch to retailers. 

Here’s what those challenger brands are doing to win the battle for space on Walmart shelves.

Implementing Changes on the Fly

Perhaps the most valuable attribute of small challenger brands is their ability to move quickly and make changes in short order. When Walmart makes a request to change some aspect of your product—whether it’s the packaging, messaging or other criteria—they tend to value a supplier that is able to quickly apply that feedback.

Larger brands inevitably struggle to match these accelerated timelines to implement changes, largely because the decision-making processes at those companies are more complex and involve more steps and approvals before any action can be taken. 

A gourmet waffle company, for example, can change its packaging and branding much faster than competitor products from Kellogg’s can, due to the difference in size between these companies and the simpler process involved in modifying a product. Large organizations have more aspects of their business to consider even when making small changes, and in some cases a retailer’s requests may create friction with the established branding and the company’s retail goals.

Meanwhile, bigger companies inevitably have more red tape to deal with, which only gets in the way of fulfilling a buyer’s wishes. From a buyer’s perspective, speed matters. 

Engaging Consumers Through Disruptive Marketing

Certain product categories suffer from historical stagnancy and a lack of innovation. Eggs are a great example: For decades, eggs have been wrapped in the same packaging and marketed in a fairly simplistic way. If you go to a store and purchase a dozen eggs in 2019, they don’t look all that different from the eggs you would have purchased in 1989.

Unless you’re buying a carton from Happy Egg, that is. This challenger brand uses updated branding and a more compelling brand story to distinguish itself from the traditional approach to selling eggs in a grocery store. Now, when you go into a grocery store, it’s easy to spot Happy Egg products in their distinctive yellow cartons with trend-forward label designs even as you’re walking up to the eggs display. Happy Egg backs up the at-shelf impact with a brand story about how their hens roam on larger farms and are fed higher-nutrient feed, making their eggs “the free-est of the free range”.  

This is one reason Happy Egg ranks among the fastest-growing egg brands in the United States. A disruptive approach to marketing, aimed at increasing engagement with customers, is finding success in grocery stores just by taking a new approach to selling an old product.

Introducing Premium Products to a Category

Happy Egg’s success as a disruptive brand isn’t only enabled through its interesting packaging and distinctive product messaging. The company also took a popular challenge brand approach by introducing premium products into a category where those products were either nonexistent or underrepresented.

In Happy Egg’s case, it introduced free-range egg products that are closely woven together with the company’s brand narrative of supporting healthy, happy practices for raising chickens. By introducing a product that challenges the status quo, it can engage consumers by appealing to their desire for products that are both healthier for consumers and better for the world.

Small brands often worry that their lack of resources puts them at a disadvantage when trying to compete with larger, global brands that have an established base of consumers. But challenger brands can level the playing field by embracing the benefits of being a small upstart brand and using that size and agility to fulfill the wishes of their Walmart buyer.

To find out how your brand can make the most of its challenger status, request a consultation from Arena today.

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