It takes a phenomenal product to make it onto the shelves at Whole Foods Market—but it takes more than that to get a brand flying off their shelves. On April 20, 2021 Whole Foods Market (WFM) and Hot Bread Kitchen joined together to share technical details and support to help small business owners optimize sales and ensure success. This presentation was part of our ongoing work to support emerging brands and small food businesses in accessing new market opportunities.
John Lawson, the Senior Regional Grocery Buyer for Whole Foods Market Northeast and longtime Hot Bread Kitchen partner, provided information tailored for local and emerging brands in Whole Foods Market’s North East region, going in-depth on commonly asked questions and providing guidance for making the most of an opportunity with the grocery chain. Lawson, who has spent a decade on WFM’s North East regional buying team, shared his perspective on what makes for a successful relationship with the company and, most importantly, with customers. In a 40-minute presentation tailored for businesses that have already established a buying relationship with WFM, he gave an overview of the company’s local, regional, and global structure; offered strategic guidance on store placement and managing relationships with grocery leads; provided insight on merchandising and distribution; and shared tips for positioning one’s brand for growth at WFM.
During the presentation, Hot Bread Kitchen entrepreneurs learned about key metrics WFM uses to manage its buying and grocery operations, while Lawson offered several pieces of advice to guide small businesses through their relationship with the market, including:
- Reviewing WFM’s quality standards in detail
- Tactics and questions for approaching pricing as a reflection of product value
- Information about offering demos, including guidance for how best to share their products with audiences and connect with new customers
- Tips for leveraging social media and “meeting the customer where they are, on their terms”
- Step-by-step guidance for using WFM systems and datas to businesses’ advantage in planning
As a reflection of WFM and Hot Bread Kitchen’s shared value of helping small businesses flourish, Lawson underscored the need for collaboration among brands. Throughout his presentation, he encouraged entrepreneurs to connect with one another, collaborate, and develop partnerships that will ultimately position each business for growth–advice we heartily echo!
Resources from Lawson’s presentation are now available for all Hot Bread Kitchen entrepreneurs to access, which we believe will facilitate more brands’ access to Whole Foods Market’s shelves. Special thanks to John Lawson and the WFM North East Regional team for their support, assistance, and investment in our members.