Ask @RetailPhil: How to Connect CPG Brands and Retailers
Recently, I had a chance to chat with Keith Anderson at Profitero. We discussed the challenge in managing and centralizing product content, the critical role of analytics when it comes to developing and managing content, as well as some of the biggest opportunities and challenges for CPG brands in e-commerce.
The recap below is a shortened version of our conversation. Want to know more? Head over to the podcast to hear the whole thing!
KA: We often start just by getting to know the guest a bit. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to Hubba?
RP: I met our CEO Ben when I was at Target. As a sales and marketer, I’ve always felt that content, whether it be structured content or marketing content, was always a little crazy to compile and to be able to share with a retailer. Then I really felt that problem when we were at Target. When I met Ben, I was super excited that at the heart of getting content write in, getting materials back and forth from vendor to retailer, that at the heart of it, it was the consumer who suffers, because they can’t search for products properly. It really got me excited. We’re growing like crazy now.
KA: Can you just give us a little overview and background on what Hubba is and what Hubba does?
RP: At the heart of Hubba, we connect brands and retailers. We help brands get all of their information into Hubba, and that would be anything from an image to long and short descriptions, UPC codes, anything that you struggle to communicate to a retailer, we would help connect you, so you’ve got one less hurdle to do. Then we also help retailers discover new brands and figure out what should be in their product assortments.
KA: Do you mind just going into a little bit of detail about where Hubba fits in that whole content management and syndication process, and then how do brands and retailers engage with Hubba, practically speaking and commercially?
RP: Right at the heart of it, Hubba is free. We are free for brands and retailers. We do have a monetary set up, so if you were a big brand and you had many brand managers that had to assemble content, then we would help you get a subscription per month fee. For most brands though, it is free. The reason we do that is we want brands to come here, because brands want to go where retailers are, and retailers want to go where brands are. This creates the perfect storm for folks to come in here, for brands to come in here, share their information, and then be able to share that with the retailer. We target both brands and retailers. We’re now growing into influencers. We have influencers who come in here and look to talk to brands or be able to share brand content, as well.
KA: You mentioned that some retailers use Hubba to discover new brands and discover new products. Tell me more about how that process works. Are they coming to Hubba and searching? What kind of information about a product can they find there?
RP: When we talk to retailers, in most of the CPG categories, 80 percent of a buyer’s assortment is spoken for. That’s where their value comes from. That’s how they make their profit. That’s how they plan their buy dollars. But there’s a good 20 percent, and that varies by category, that is really for surprising, delighting consumers and finding new products or new segments and new assortments that you can find new avenues to profit and new avenues to turn your category.
On Hubba, a retailer has the ability to sort by category and just see what’s in Hubba, what’s new. They also get a chance to see what’s trending. We have folks that will like products and vote on them and comment about them. That allows a retailer to be able to keep track of things that potentially could be movers that you could use in your next planogram update or your next program update.
KA: I get the sense Hubba approaches brands a little differently than some of the other companies, in terms of how you enter those companies and how you support them. Can you talk a little bit about what’s different about Hubba’s approach?
RP: The first thing to know about Hubba is that we are made up of folks that have been in the industry, that know the industry. We emphasize that value and community are two key pillars in the way Hubba does things. Value is really key. You have to be able to see value out of Hubba immediately. While most brands say that they love that, most brands don’t necessarily grasp what that means right away. We keep it very low-tech. Anybody can get into Hubba. A very typical scenario is for a salesperson to come in and realize right away that this solves their immediate issues of just being able to share with a retailer.
We can see a brand up and running in anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour. … We get folks that ask us as well, “Is there a template I have to fill in? Is there a form?”. We always say the same thing, which is, “No, you don’t. What you need to think about is what do you get asked for the most in a day?” There’s always one image, one dimension, one spec, that you get a dozen calls for a day. That should be where you start. That should be the first thing you put into Hubba, because the minute you share that, those phone calls go away. They can now go into Hubba and just pull that stuff and then get back to their day.
The second piece is community and helping brands connect with retailers of their choice. Whether they’re looking for small, medium or large-sized retailers, I have a conversation with them. We figure out what works for them. Then we go out and find those folks in the Hubba community who fit the description of who they want and connect them. A lot of brands have trouble with that. Almost the very first question I have is, “What does this cost? Why are you guys doing this?” The answer is always the same, which is we know the problems that are out there. We know how to solve them, and we want the community to thrive. But they’re always shocked when I say there’s no cost to it.
KA: We’ve focused naturally on product content, but in the broader set of strategies and tactics for e-commerce from a CPG brand’s perspective, what do you see as some of the biggest opportunities and some of the key challenges?
RP: A whole bunch of things come to mind right away. You’d think that companies that have been in business such a long time are quick to react, but I think one of the biggest problems is just adoption. Learning how to play in a different field. I think CPG companies in particular have been very good at learning how to get their fair share of business in a brick and mortar store, but also to be able to get more than their fair share of attention from retailers.
Retailers on a similar scale are very used to getting more than their fair share of attention and knowing how to ask for things in such a way that brands can’t say no. I think in the new world, CPG companies are struggling just to figure out how you structure your e-commerce business, so that you actually understand what you’re measuring and how you move forward, and then getting a vision of what’s to come is definitely a struggle, as well.
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