Land Your Product in Stores with Tips from Brookstone’s Chief Innovation Officer

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Ever wanted to land your product in a retail store? Brookstone Chief Innovation Officer, Lauren van Heerden, sees a lot of product pitches, and it’s her team’s job to identify the ones that can become “Retail Ready” for Brookstone customers.

At a recent panel discussion hosted by Indiegogo, van Heerden shared tips with campaigners looking to make the leap onto Brookstone retail shelves and online. Learn how you can be featured by Brookstone, and perfect your pitch and product for a retail environment:

Pitch products that fit a major Brookstone product category

Before you make the pitch, make sure to determine if there’s a product fit between your company and the retail environment. Brookstone looks for useful innovations across three key consumer categories:

  1. Healthy Lifestyle – Does your product help people perform at their best, relieve stress, or get a better night’s sleep?   Brookstone customers are health-minded and always on the hunt for new ways to live better.
  2. Social Lifestyle – Brookstone customers love to have fun and entertain their friends. Does your product make it easier to listen to music or throw a better party? Does it help people break away from the dull and ordinary?fizzics-beer-ontap
  3. Travel Lifestyle – Brookstone customers are expert travelers. Does your product help them travel faster, easier and more comfortably?

Design for the Brookstone customer

The Brookstone target customer is between the ages of 20 and 55, expects to be wowed, is health conscious and loves to impress those in her social circles. A Brookstone product has to be simply amazing in its function, yet amazingly simple in its operation.

Make sure your product has the “wow” moment

Brookstone’s core strength is giving customers amazing interactive product experiences, or “wow” moments. When Brookstone evaluates products, they always ask, “What’s the ‘plus one’? What is the new feature that makes the product better and more entertaining than others in its category?”

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Keep these characteristics in mind: A Brookstone product solves a problem, is easily demonstrable, and is made for real people, not scientists.

Understand the difference between a Big Box and Specialty retailer

I personally shop Target and other big boxes,” says van Heerden. “We all do. But generally, I’m shopping for known commodities. I don’t need help. If you’re the maker of a new, innovative item, however, your product likely needs the sort of up-close personal sales support of a specialty retailer like Brookstone.”

Since Brookstone stores are so much smaller than big box stores, each product on our shelves gets a lot more personal attention. One of our stores may have 300 products vs. 50,000. Our customers expect their shopping experience with us to be fun, interactive, and educational. By being more selective in our product assortment and only carrying products in our stores that naturally generate conversations, we’re able to give consumers a fulfilling, individualized experience and really explain the ways in which a particular item will make life better.

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What I often say to startups is that working with Brookstone can easily save you 6-12 months on the road to getting into retail, “ says van Heerden.  “This is due to many of the larger retailers having pre-defined calendar assortment dates as well as a strong bias toward products that require less explanation. Their sales force has to cover thousands of products, while we can devote more time to selling new innovations. In fact, that’s what customers expect from us.”

Set realistic expectations for multi-channel margin rates

Whether working with a maker that only has a basic product design and a campaign video, or one that has stocked inventory that’s ready to ship, van Heerden frequently encourages people to set realistic expectations regarding margin rates between selling directly on Amazon and selling in mall retail stores. All situations are different, but common considerations include:

  •      How proven is your product?
  •      How much sales force time is required?
  •      How much marketing is required on top of what already exists to generate demand?

Three quick tips to consider first

Van Heerden shared three pieces of advice for new makers:  

  1.     Don’t sell a product you can’t make.
  2.     Don’t make a product you can’t sell.
  3.     Work with partners who have a track record.

Submit your product with Brookstone + Indiegogo

Indiegogo teamed up with Brookstone to help Indiegogo entrepreneurs take their ideas from concept to market. Whether you’re just getting started on Indiegogo or you’ve already had a successful campaign, our partnership with Brookstone Launch will take your idea to the next level.

Submit your Indiegogo-funded product through Brookstone Launch for the opportunity to sell in Brookstone stores nationwide and online.