When heading into a PLR (product line review), your first question should always be, “What problem are we solving for?”
For example, going into one PLR we learned there was a certain price point where the largest proportion of units were being sold. Our client’s products were high-end and therefore set well above that mid-point. That told us right away that our goal was to figure out how to walk that middle priceline up and convince the retailer how and why our client’s higher-priced units would sell better than the products currently on the shelf.
As a private brand, you may encounter the opposite situation. Perhaps your goal is to help consumers (and by extension, the retailer) see the value in offering a lower-priced brand.
When it comes to a PLR, your pain point and your goal—and therefore your story—are all situational. However, by starting with the end in mind (which is another way of saying, What’s the story we’re trying to tell?) you begin to see a path that shows you how to pull together and direct data.
Engage With Buyers—Early and Often
During a PLR, you’re presenting a family of products, hoping to gain shelf space for all your offerings. This involves a mix of data and research around pricing, consumer needs and awareness, competitive assessment and more.
At all times during your pitch, be thinking of ways to engage with the merchant, well ahead of the pitch. At one point, we asked for a pre-meeting with a retailer and led them through the following exercise:
We rolled out three long sheets of butcher paper on the table. On the first length of paper, we laid out the existing tool category line-up and wrote down the price points for each tool. On the second length of paper, we laid out a competing retailers line-up, complete with price points.
On the final length of paper, we laid out our preferred line-up, using our products over the incumbents. We didn’t include price points on this one, just product.
This was a simple way for us to open a dialog with the retailer for how much each of these tools should cost. It allowed us to see where our products stood in the mind of the retailer. For example, at one point one of the merchants pointed to one of our client’s tools, saying it wasn’t making any money because it was priced wrong. We said no problem and took it off the table. And quickly put it back on when the merchant said no, they wanted it to stay. This told us that even though they weren’t happy with the tool’s pricing, this was an important product for them.
You’re not going to get every product on the shelf, but exercises like the one above help. They engage the retailer early on in the PLR process, allowing you insights into what’s important to merchants and what they’re thinking.
In addition, exercises like this help guide your thought process about what would be a win. Before you enter the formal PLR pitch, you want a firm understanding of what a win looks like for you, and how much you’re willing to give around your product line.