Ask @RetailPhil: What Aloe Vera Can Teach You About Pitching to Retailers

This week we learned that industry heavy-hitters Walmart, CVS and Target are all facing consumer complaints and lawsuits over selling aloe vera products which, according to independent testing, actually contain no aloe vera. You would think nothing gets a retailer into more trouble than a faulty claim on a product, but retailers actually take fire for all sorts of things. Incorrect claims on labels; a poorly made product; or brands that create social outrage. Retailers play a vital (albeit profitable) role as the middleman between brands and consumers. But should the retailer face the brunt of consumers’ complaints for all of these things, or should it be the brands themselves?



Retailers are easy to find and public-facing, which leads the public to believe they should know everything about the products they are listing. And for the most part, retailers do their best to thoroughly research the  brands they choose to carry. But take a second to think about this from the retailer’s perspective.

So next time you have a pitch meeting with a buyer, try to get inside their minds and make it as easy as possible for them to say yes”

A single buyer runs about five to eight categories within a store. They have to be an expert in eight industries at any given time, following the trends, key ingredients, labelling requirements, laws, and health and safety requirements for each. Once they know their industries like the back of their hand, they then have to think about ways to be competitive and find new and innovative products in them. Let’s do the math:

8 categories x 500 products each = 4,000 products to look after

That is a lot to keep track of while still safeguarding the interests of the public. These guys have a lot on their plates… or shelves, if you will. So next time you have a pitch meeting with a buyer, try to get inside their minds and make it as easy as possible for them to say “yes”. Sure, explain why your product is the next big thing to hit the market, but also consider:


  • Are you a reliable contact?
  • Is your product/prototype expertly crafted, or is this everyday quality?
  • Will you be able to keep up with manufacturing demand?
  • Will the buyer regret it if they pass on your product?


As the Retail Industry Manager at Hubba, Phil is responsible for uncovering both emerging trends and insights that may impact businesses engaged in commerce. With 20 years of experience under his belt, Phil helps brands and retailers adapt to the the new realities of retail and the next generation of commerce. Phil is a frequent speaker at industry events in Canada and the US, across multiple verticals, and is a featured writer in trade publications such Retail TouchPoints, Pet Product News, BikeBiz, and more.