GreenSpace Brands’ shares are soaring as the firm wins at a role in Canada that SpitfireGlobal long ago urged USA firms to take- ‘Consolidator’ of on-trend ideas.
There’s nothing really revolutionary about the ‘Consolidator’ role- one could argue that P&G and Unlilever are more truly buyers (consolidators) of brands created by others, more so than inventors of new brands.
From 2004 to 2012, SpitfireGlobal pushed companies to fill a gap & be a ‘Consolidator’ in then-new all-natural products; eg sourcing & managing chemical-free & 100% natural ingredient items in Pet Products. Sadly, the companies we pushed thought it too high-risk. It’s nice to see one company has seized the gap (the stock market richly rewarded GreenSpace!)
What does a Consolidator do? At minimum, they …
1. ‘validate’ each supplier’s fit & legitimacy (sustainability, logistical capabilities, etc);
2. administer supplier actions to fit Key Account’s mission, vision, core values, priorities & logistics updates (allowable ship formats, new DC locations, new Vendor forms & certifications); and
3. provide efficient ‘single source’ shipping (eg full truckloads vs multiple part-loads or depot-drop nuisances).
What changes created the Consolidator opportunity? Two big changes:
(i) Retailers destaffed so heavily that many now lack staff on hand who know how to fill out their own New Product forms ( I kid you not!); consequently, they ‘outsourced’ duties to ‘Rep agencies’ who play a growing ‘defacto staff’ role that includes seeking new Vendors, qualifying them, managing category entry, promotion & merchandising activity (far beyond just Control Label decisions). That Rep agency role expansion happened in most categories!
(ii) Now add to this: the complication of traditional-thinking, risk averse Retailers trying to stay abreast of a fast-growing, fast changing, fragmented & risky field such as Natural products-and you have even more reason to hire a Consolidator to answer questions such as “Is this new one-off product line supplier capable of supplying us in full & on-time?”, “Are they aware what’s important to us?”, “Are they legitimately using all natural ingredients, processes?” The risk of selecting an unethical or inept supplier is huge! Because it’s the Retailer who takes the business hit &/or reputation hit, if a supplier fails to deliver, either figuratively or literally.
Are YOU ready to be a Consolidator? It’s not a role for a newbee or casual opportunist: you must know the market & respect the consumer’s preferences. That’s why GreenSpace won; they started as a Natural item supplier who understood Natural consumers’ preferences to be non-negotiable (unlike a baking soda firm that blew a foray into the Natural Products pet category after misreading Natural consumers preferences as ‘optional but not necessary’).
What will you do as a Consolidator? That varies according to how much the Retailer can handle in house & which duties can be done by other Reps/Partners. The firms we advised had to be ready to step up & handle duties as diverse as: document inspection, site inspection, process audits, assistance to ‘remedy or re-source’ any iffy or non-compliant ingredients, graphics upgrades, revised inner pack & outer packs counts & configurations, first-ever logistics models to allow consolidated shipping (many of the small firms had never needed to understand basic Big Retailer logistics -pallet height limits, truck fit calculations, Retailer logistics software, forecasting promotion load inventory, etc).
Yes- there is some hand-holding required! There’s good reason Retailers hesitate to find & teach unsophisticated firms on Big League Basics.
Are you up to it? Consider: (a) Is the category in which you compete growing quickly (perhaps a bit chaotically?) eg SuperFoods, Craft Beer, Vintage/Hand-Crafted decor, All-Natural, Fair Trade, User Sourced… (b) Are Retailers slow to jump on the trend, due to staffing constraints &/or supplier risks? (c) Do you know that segment’s consumer needs?
If you answered Yes to (a), (b) and (c) -maybe you should think beyond your own business. You might fill a Greater Gap. Seize an opportunity outlined long ago by Spitfire Global, captured successfully by GreenSpace. Be a Consolidator!