If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Remaining stagnant in growth is the equivalent of dying in business. When numbers are staying the same, declining numbers surely are soon to follow. When you consider the aging population that makes up the bulk of the customers in natural products retail establishments, your customer base must be replaced with the next generation in order to keep your business going.
So how do you attract and capture new customers and keep them coming back?
What marketing plan do you have?
If you’re like most independent retailers in our association, marketing is the thing you struggle with the most. If you want to attract new, younger customers, you need to step up your game. Often when money gets tight, marketing is the first thing to get cut, but this should not be the case.
We have several blogs on our website that address each of these topics more on an individual basis, but first and foremost, you have to take steps to become more present online.
The first step is enhancing your website. This is often the first place customers will visit before they visit your physical location. If your website is
a.) non-existent, b.) out of date, or c.) not targeting your customers in a meaningful way, this is the first step in reaching new customers.
If a customer searches “Health Food Store Near Me” and your site comes up first, you have a huge opportunity to capture that lead, but if your website is lacking, you may have just lost that customer. Not sure where to start when it comes to enhancing your website? Check out this blog.
You also need to be presenting value to your potential customers. You need to establish why your store is the best place in town for people to buy their products. That’s why it is important to understand your key differentiators and communicate those in your marketing efforts. Do you have the best prices? The most educated staff? The best customer experience? Know what you do best and market that!
If you have the best prices in town, maybe you need to send out a mailer with a coupon offering even more value. If you have the best educated staff, maybe you need to be investing in creating Youtube videos that showcase their knowledge. Whatever it is, lean into it and provide your customers value before they even make a purchase.
If you’ve made a good enough impression online to get that new customer to come into your store, be sure to provide an excellent experience for them. It’s amazing how simple things like shelves that have been cleaned and proper lighting can make a difference. But you want to create an environment that makes people want to come back over and over, a place where people want to bring their family and friends when they visit from out of town.
Much of this starts with your staff and making sure they are well trained to offer the best customer service, but a lot of this is how your store looks and feels to customers. Younger shoppers are very much into the “vibe” of a store. Even if you’re primarily a supplement store, think about how you can brighten up your space to make it inviting and easy to shop? Is there something fun you can offer like free kombucha on tap while you shop or partner with a local, organic coffee roaster and offer $1 cups of coffee?
If your store looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1992, then you’re probably not going to attract people that were born around that time. And yes, those people are very much your potential customer! In fact, a study was done that showed that 70% of millennials in the US take supplements!
Take pride in the appearance of your store and be willing to invest in renovations that will make it look good. Visit other health food stores for inspiration and know that simple changes like paint can make a huge difference. Your interior design says a lot about your brand image and the messaging you’re sending to your customers. We have an entire article dedicated to remodeling your store for you to reference.
You have to be price competitive in order to attract and keep new customers. This is something we’ve been speaking about for years ever since e-commerce really started to make a dent in natural products sales. With customers having the ability to check your prices with the push of a button, it is vital to be competitive.
Now you may be asking, “But certain brands don’t enforce MAP policy. What should I do about those brands to be competitive?” That’s ultimately for you to decide, but many SENPA retailers have chosen to cut ties with brands that refuse to enforce MAP and allow them to be competitive. Instead, they have chosen to work with brands that support independent retailers and allow them to compete with e-commerce giants rather than selling products at wholesale prices online.
We wrote a blog a while back about different pricing models to consider if you need help evaluating your pricing model and maybe want to consider trying something new to keep you competitive. Just know that if you are not price competitive, while a customer may make a purchase with you since they are already in the store, if they feel like they are being price-gouged, they will not return.
We’re here for you
As always, SENPA is here to be a resource for you. If you have questions about any of these concepts, we have over 60 years of combined experience and are more than happy to help. Also, we’d highly encourage you to attend SOHO events to network with retailers in person and get connected to other retailers that do these things really well.