People Buy People First.

It’s a philosophy that has remained with me for more than 30 years since I first heard the phrase used by my first ever boss at Shell UK Oil. I knew this instinctively, but crystallising it into one succinct mantra, as he did, was powerful and instructive and is essential in business partnership selection.

Food and drink brands need the right sales partner for the best chance of success. But, for a nascent brand or an international entrant, finding the best development partner in the busy food and drink sector is a little bit like the online dating game. You need to choose and invest in your network very carefully if you don’t want to be left on the proverbial (retail) shelf.

Prospective clients who decide to check us out are advised quite openly that we are looking equally hard at them because we can only work with a select few if the relationship is going to be emotionally and commercially rewarding for both parties.

We have to feel the passion and match this with pragmatism – just the same as dating!

For us to succeed in bringing newcomers to market, we have developed a similar approach to many dating sites. Because people really do buy people first.

This isn’t airy-fairy management psychobabble. It’s a legitimate leadership insight.

It’s a position that we have actively crafted over time and one that we continue to fine tune as we work with partners and suppliers to develop and bring new concepts to market.

The four cornerstones are pretty straight forward.

  1. The chemistry has to be right
  2. Values have to be shared
  3. Integrity counts because that’s what builds connections and business
  4. And, unlike some other available matchmaking services, both partners need to be in it for the longer term

Add to that knowledge brought by an experienced team and you’re well on your way.

We recently had conversations with a kombucha brand looking for a UK launch. As talks progressed, it became very apparent that our ways of thinking were substantially different.

While we were seeking a long-term relationship based on a shared passion and vision, our would be suitor was looking for a one-time, quick hit, so it wasn’t going to work.

The problem is that the UK food market is highly complex, so you need to think strategically about the kind of relationship that will see you through.

We know that how people feel is central to all of this. The way someone feels affects how they behave which in turn affects the results they achieve. The people buy people first approach not only helps people think differently about the consumer, it also helps them think differently about themselves and the service they give.

We in turn are required to understand someone’s problems, the emotions that govern their decision making process and then provide the solutions to solve those problems.

Do this and you will take plenty of the risk out of your business enterprise.

A good starting point is to establish and agree on three key elements.

Our job is then to work up the evidence because without these three you are never going to know if your product, concept, idea will work.

Why? This is your belief, the internal cause or purpose

What? This is your true differentiator, the gap in the market

How? This is the process, the actions taken to realise the Why

We are putting ourselves through the very same steps with the launch of our new bone broth range, BOOSH.

Belief. We have a clear product purpose which is built entirely around bringing to mass market the nourishing, health benefits of bone broth. That translates into a clear set of grounded reasons why consumers should buy it.

Gap in the Market. BOOSH meets consumer lifestyle expectations and values, and retailer demand for an accessibly priced quality product. It is the perfect fit for ambient shelves and those retailers looking for that “magic every day” touch.

It’s very early days but we have Passion and Process in our corner. BOOSH is a joint venture with a manufacturer who shares our vision to democratise healthy, nutritious food. I for one would ultimately like to see bone broth on the menus of hospitals for elderly and seriously ill people. That’s just one democratic goal. Applying some lipstick to the chilled sauce shelf is next.

A better version of ourselves

We always hope that whether people choose to work with us or not, they will part with more knowledge than they arrived with.

Serendipity definitely came into play soon after my first failed kombucha date. On exploring the recent Lunch! show, I came across a different supplier with an incredible cross generational backstory and a similar vision to match. In our first meeting, the energy was palpable, the shared passion unleashed. I’m confident on this occasion that our stars will happily align.

All of the above plays to the People Buy People proposition and is one of the reasons why we chose to rebrand ourselves this year.

It was about becoming a better version of ourselves, because in the end that’s what matters most to us and to the new age consumer.  Collectively, we are the difference.

Are we right for you? Take the Product Chain Chemistry Test and find out

By Fiona Esom

Fiona Esom