Can an individual make it into the UK’s competitive food or drink market? PART ONE
Why is it so hard?
Saturated market, rich global competitors and lack of trust from supermarkets all make breaking into the UK’s food and drink market extremely difficult. It isn’t just the obvious reasons as outlined above though, the big companies have an advantage in many areas that you wouldn’t even think possible. Take for example ethics; having very good ethical standards is a vital prerequisite to breaking into the modern market. You may wonder why coca cola and nestle can have terrible moral records and still boost huge profits and market domination? Surely this means good ethics only appeal to a niche group of customers? Well no, this isn’t the case, it’s simply because nestle and coca cola are already there and have people hooked on their products. Every so often in the newspaper and on TV a news article will highlight what they have done (remember Powdered milk to African mothers?) and there profits may take a slight hit but sooner or later they will recover. If you robbed water from an African village and left them in poverty then tried to sell it in a drink it would be picked up on, and the campaign of hate would be so strong that you would struggle to sell a single drink again. People would only associate your product with the news whilst they balance bad news for cocoa cola with the great tasting drink. Unfortunately a lot of people value the drink over their own moral compass. So an uneven playing field in ethical terms is just one reason why it’s so hard to beat the big boys, but it is possible to beat them.
How do you beat the big companies and break into the food and drink market then?
• Be different
This is obvious, but not as important as you think. Not everyone will find a new type of drink, such as a smoothie or energy drink that can break onto the market. You could just have a few new flavours or better quality ingredients. I think the fear of not being different enough puts a lot of entrepreneurs off, you don’t have to be so different just do it better. Lots of people sold ice cream because famous entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne did, was he put off?
• Have a budget
You may be thinking, the bigger the better, and you would be right to think this. That’s not to say it can’t be done with a small budget. You will need to persuade people to work for less. A good tip to achieve this is to go to a meeting with someone who you want to employ (on a freelance basis of course) and talk a lot about the project before discussing price, you have to sound very convincing and really show your passion. You would be surprised how much people go for someone who shows passion. You may only be knocking a few hundred off here and there but it does add up.
• Have contacts
No doubt this is very useful, it’s possible without them but it will be harder at the start. Of course if you know the manager of your local independent supermarket or even bored members on a high straight chain it will help. Be aware though lots of people will be positive about a business idea but when you ask for cash or real help they may not be so keen as to help. Never rely on anyone other than yourself.
• Be confident and never give up
This is the only point here I would say if you don’t have you will fail. Selling any product is a difficult task. People will look for faults in it and point them out to you gleefully to boost their own ego. You will have to accept rejection and come back stronger. I would list confidence as one of the most important traits to have in life, far more important than intelligence or background. In business its so important because you will never please everyone, people will question and criticize you, the moment you loose belief in yourself your in serious trouble. Of course listen to criticism and act accordingly but I can’t stress enough not taking it personally.
To be continued…
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