Five Ways Smaller Brands Can Manage a Stockpiling Event

By Ray Florio, Growth Consulting, IRI


In previous posts in this blog series, I shared the short- and long-term effects of stockpiling behavior and offered tips to market leaders on how to manage the potential pitfalls of a stockpiling event. In this post, we’ll explore several ways that smaller CPG manufacturers and lower-penetration brands can manage the unique opportunity a stockpiling event creates for them.

1. Pursue new distribution as retailers run short on inventory, filling gaps in supply.

Stockpiling has already resulted in some stores with bare shelves. Even in otherwise well-supplied areas, some staples are running short. And if some of the worst fears about supply chain distributions become reality, a broad selection of retailers will suddenly be open to stocking alternative brands on their shelves. For small manufacturers, this is an opportunity to build a new customer base and to build relationships with retailers that could lead to longer-term distribution arrangements.

2. Do not take price for short-term financial gain as supply tightens.

Long-term financial success will come from strengthening the perception of your brand. Although most retailers know not to price gouge during a crisis, a lack of pricing compliance can lead to the perception that this undesirable behavior is occurring. For instance, if there is significant pricing variance across stores, and the lower-priced stores sell out, shoppers may believe the other stores simply raised price to drive extra profit. It is of the utmost importance to identify the true variance in price, store by store, and make a compelling case for retailers to align pricing to avoid a situation that will hurt both them and the manufacturer.

3. Advertise the suitability for stockpiling needs outside of category buyers.

Buying for stockpiling is different than buying for a normal purchase cycle. Shoppers will buy products and brands based on their suitability to remain viable through longer-term storage. From an advertising perspective, this will require a quick but different outreach than trying to sway existing category buyers. Given this is above and beyond traditional marketing, budgets will be limited, requiring a very focused approach to specific niches. Identifying where and who to target will be vital to success.

4. Demonstrate reliability and consistency among retailers, especially new banners.

If a smaller brand wants to fill a supply gap from a market leader and turn that to long-term shelf space at a retailer, the manufacturer must be certain not to overextend itself. The worst possible scenario is one where a small brand gets the opportunity to fill in supply gaps across several new banners but can barely fulfill its role in one additional retailer. That will likely result in several retailers rejecting the brand in the future. Avoiding this means properly quantifying the potential demand from all the above efforts and making an informed decision about just how much is feasible.

5. Invest in targeted consumer assistance in hardest-hit areas.

Lastly, like large brands, small brands should invest in highly targeted consumer assistance in the hardest-hit areas. It’s good for the brand. And most importantly, it’s good for the communities in the most need.

For a deeper look into how stockpiling during COVID-19 will impact your brand, contact me at

Other Articles in the Series:
CPG Stockpiling: What to Expect Now and When It’s Over
Four Ways Larger CPGs Can Best Manage a Grocery Stockpiling Event










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