Being on the Shelf is Not a Marketing Event: How to Get Noticed in the 22-Minute Supermarket Sprint

Supermarket cooler with various products

By Tim Forrest, Transforming Food Brands with Over $20M Raised and Nearly $1B in Growth

In the competitive world of food marketing, merely getting your product on supermarket shelves is no longer the coup d’état it once was. The modern consumer is both time-crunched and overwhelmed with choices. In an environment where the average consumer spends less than 22 minutes in a supermarket that likely has over 50,000 items, your product could be one of many that shoppers whiz by without so much as a glance. Simply put, being on the shelf is not a marketing event. Let’s delve into why this is true and what strategies are effective in this fast-paced scenario.

The Shopper’s Dilemma

Imagine being a consumer walking by more than 30 items every second. They’re focused, list in hand, and possibly distracted by a mobile phone. With such limited time and such an array of options, your product can easily be relegated to the background. However, top supermarkets aren’t just looking for new products; they are looking for innovative products that not only add value to their respective shopper but are also known by consumers and have compelling marketing tactics to drive foot traffic.

Case Studies: Stand-Out Products and Their Marketing Programs

1. Beyond Meat: The Power of Influencer Marketing

Beyond Meat, a plant-based meat substitute, disrupted the supermarket aisles by aligning with influential celebrities and athletes who advocate for a plant-based diet. Television spots and social media endorsements from these figures helped Beyond Meat get beyond the shelf and into consumer consciousness.

2. Oatly: Guerilla Marketing

Oatly’s oat milk has found its way into coffee shops and supermarkets alike, but it wasn’t just its product driving sales. The company employed guerilla marketing tactics, putting up billboards in high-traffic areas and even launching a ‘help the post-milk generation’ campaign. The creative marketing approach not only increased visibility but also drove consumers into stores asking for Oatly by name.

3. Halo Top: Social Media Engagement

Low-calorie, high-protein Halo Top ice cream dominated supermarket freezers thanks to its Instagram-friendly packaging and consumer-driven social media campaigns. User-generated content, like sharing photos of the product, helped the brand garner attention in a saturated market.

Strategies to Gain Visibility

1. Customer-Centricity: Understanding your target customer’s needs and crafting your marketing message around that is vital. If your product offers convenience, make that the focus of your marketing campaign.

2. Unique In-Store Experiences: Consider partnerships with supermarkets for in-store events that encourage trial and interaction with your product.

3. Digital Ecosystem: Leverage technology to create an online-offline loop, driving awareness and excitement online that translates into in-store purchases.

4. Data-Driven Approach: Employ real-time data analytics to gauge customer response and adapt your marketing strategies accordingly.

5. Sustainability Messaging: Given the increasing focus on sustainability, especially within the U.S. market, messages around sustainability can add a layer of value that extends beyond the product itself.


The key takeaway here is to never underestimate the power of strong, innovative marketing tactics. The goal is to have customers seek out your product intentionally, not stumble upon it by accident. Your product shouldn’t just exist; it should insist on being noticed and in-mind prior to the store visit.

Your path to disrupting legacy brands begins with understanding that visibility is more than shelf space—it’s a multi-dimensional strategy aimed at capturing consumer attention in a world where they are overwhelmed with options. So, the next time you toast to your product being on supermarket shelves, remember that the real work has only just begun.

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Don’t leave money on the table. Transform your food brand today.


Who is Tim“Hi I’m Tim, and I love the food business! I’ve been helping large and small companies and entrepreneurs achieve success for decades. My consulting projects have contributed to major successes for my clients, including many with 100%+ year-over-year growth rates. I enjoy sharing my expertise, and hope you find these blog posts enlightening. Please reach out to me with any questions or comments.”

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