5 Keys To Success for New Brand Entrants During Covid-19

Small to medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. They contribute approximately 38.4% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP).[i] This is especially true in the Canadian grocery sector. For the 52-week period ending September 2019, the top 101+ brand’s growth contribution was 26.5% vs. 18.6% for the Top 20 brands. Overall, private label and smaller manufacturers were contributing 57% of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FCMG) growth during this period.[ii]

COVID-19 has changed the retail landscape and the way consumers shop for groceries. Today brands have less time than before to grab the consumer’s attention. This is especially true for new brand entrants. Unlike the Top 20 brands whose brand names are entrenched in our minds, new brands face a more un-settling future due to this pandemic. With this in mind, we present the 5 Keys to Success for New Brand Entrants during COVID-19.

success for new brand entrants

Brands Must Offer Unique Selling Proposition!

“One of the things to look at, particularly if you are a small to medium-sized retailer, is how are you different, how are you unique, how are you special? Because if you’re not, you’re a commodity. You’re interchangeable and you won’t make it through this.”

John Torella, Advisor, JC Williams Group, Retailer In-Sider, April 2020

Mr. Torella’s statement is on target regardless of the industry sector. Brands more than ever will have to offer a unique selling proposition. In addition, for those in the food sector, how does your brand promote good health as the NDP Group reveals 80% of consumers have adopted a “food as medicine” approach to eating.[iii]

Brands Must be Competitively Priced!

Before COVID-19, 70% of Canadians were seeking to save money on FMCG spending[iv]. Now that we are in the midst of this epidemic, they are having to tighten their wallets. New brand entrants must retail in general +/- $0.25 of the average category retail to warrant consumer purchase. With food prices forecasted to increase 2% to 4%[v] this year and having to navigate through this pandemic, consumers will have less money to purchase on those brands that are not competitively priced.

Brands Must Generate Brand Awareness!

Due to this pandemic, more and more Canadians have limited their time in the grocery stores or have purchased online. With this shift, the task of attracting the consumer’s attention has become more difficult due to the limited time in the grocery store or the increasing level of competition online which dilutes the messaging. It is critical that new market entrants generate brand awareness via social media, trade shows, and influencer marketing campaign to stimulate trial purchases and having those consumers become brand ambassadors. Those companies that don’t rethink their brand strategies to generate new awareness will be left on the shelves.

“The shift to tried and true products that deliver is going to stick. It’s something we’ve seen in past recessionary behaviour. Many consumers are not going to have the discretionary funds to try new things all the time.”

Risa Duesing, Head of Consumer Insights, Tyson Foods, Food Business News, April 29, 2020

Brands – Do Not Forget About the Environment!

Despite COVID-19, consumers are still concerned about the environment. It is paramount brands do not put this matter on the back burner. A recent study undertaken by global management and consulting firm Kearney revealed nearly 50% of consumers say the pandemic has made them more concerned about the environment. “The number of consumers who take the environment into consideration when making purchases has

increased since last year, and ever since the pandemic started”. For example, in 2019 – 71%.

March 2020 – 78%, April 2020 – 83% [vi]

Brands Must Earn the Trust of the Consumer!

The definition of Trust: “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something”. This is paramount for all brands, especially new brand entrants as we make our way through this pandemic. Yet, only 34% of all consumers trust the brands they use the most,[vii] and only 48% of Canadians feel businesses are doing a good job of protecting essential employees who may be at risk of exposure to the virus.[viii] During this period giving back to a specific cause that helps others is a strong way to build that trust factor. Food Distribution Guy is a strong supporter of Jack Russell Rescue (not for profit agency that finds new homes for abandoned and abused Jack Russell Terriers) and our local United Church and their food bank.


Richard Baker is the Founder and President of Food Distribution Guy. Seek assistance Getting and Staying Listed, forward us an email: richard@fooddistributionguy.com. We are here to help your brand succeed!


[i] The Canadian Small Business Stats Everyone Should Know, www.blog.wagepoint.com, October 2019

[ii] Disruption in Canadian Retail, Nielsen, Carman Allison, Qtr. 3, 2019

[iii] Majority of Consumers Use Food as Medicine, www.specialtyfood.com, August 2019

[iv] The Store of Tomorrow, Nielsen, Carman Allison, November 2019

[v] Canada’s Food Price Report 2020, Agri Foods Analytics Lab.

[vi] Consumers Still Care About Sustainability Amid Pandemic, www.grocerydrive.com, April 2020

[vii] Brand Trust is More Important Than Ever for Consumers, www.business2community.com, August 2019

[viii] Telco and CPG Sectors Have Gotten Big Boosts in Consumer Trust, www.strategyonline.ca, May 2020