When the online business, which launched in 2008, first moved into retail in 2015, the core challenge was how to select which of its 150 or so variants to include in a retail range. “We wanted variety and balance,” said head of design Elena Edwards.
But where to go, in terms of impulse-buy retail packaging, from the characteristic corrugated board trays it uses for home delivery sales? “We wanted to use a plastic tray, the brown kraft look that we knew people associated with the brand, as well as a window,” Edwards explained.
With pressure growing on retailers to take unhealthy snacks away from checkouts, it was Boots that first approached Graze to provide portion packs. By July 2015, an initial range of 12 products was in Boots, WH Smith and Sainsbury.
The brand-owner worked with small design agency Family (and friends) on making the range easier for consumers to navigate. As agency founder Derek Johnston explained, most brands have different challenges when they first go into retail.
‘Starting from scratch’
“It wasn’t about starting from scratch, but about taking a well-established brand into a new channel,” he said.
This also meant that the brand felt it did not need to get everything right first time, both in terms of the range and how it was presented. In November 2017, the company said it had 7M consumers on its database.
Graze explained that, because it manufactured “everything itself”, it was able to apply a ‘Test & Learn’ approach to its product range. This approach has been extended to retail packaging and graphic design.
“Sophisticated technology means we can continue to iterate our product and packaging without it heavily impacting on our supply chain,” said Edwards. “We have an in-house data team that can very quickly provide insight when we launch new products.”
With the retail introduction, this meant that rates of sale could be measured against expected sales, with stock-keeping units (SKUs) flagged if they were causing concern, and tracked weekly.
“We started preparing what the replacement SKUs would be if we wanted to switch,” she explained. “Within 12 weeks, we agreed with buyers to delist the two weakest SKUs and replace them.”
Graze has felt equally free to change its strategy with front-of-pack claims, choosing to move away from a strict limit of one main claim or benefit once the retail brand was better established.
It also introduced colour-coded, themed ‘pillars’ through the range, across areas such as protein, treats, dried fruit-based and flapjacks.
Today, other challenges include one that is familiar for many successful brands: retailer own-label lookalike products.
“The speed with which we are able to launch new options is a major selling point for us,” said Edwards. The brand has already introduced larger pouches. “In January, we are launching new options. Our aim is to invade the main aisle!”
‘Test & Learn’ might not be for everyone, she admitted. “This is an approach we’ve consciously decided to adopt: a focus on fast pace rather than ‘perfection’. It may not work for every brand, but it definitely works for us.”