Corporate Eye

Brands Avoid the Fight for Shelf Space by Launching Ecommerce Sites

Crystal LightWhy fight for shelf space when you can bypass the middle man and sell directly to consumers? That’s exactly what more and more consumer product brands are realizing as the launch of the new Crystal Light ecommerce site demonstrates. Now, U.S. consumers can find the flavors of the powdered drink mix that they like and in the package sizes they want without leaving their homes by buying directly from Kraft Food Groups.

The strategy makes sense as store shelves get more crowded and niche products have a more difficult time acquiring facings. The challenges get even bigger when a product comes in multiple sizes and shapes, and if the product can be found in multiple sections of a single store, the fight for shelf space escalates to often insurmountable heights.

The new Crystal Light ecommerce site is sleak and promises more to come in the near future. According to the press release, the site launched with a limited selection of products:

“For years we have heard for some of our most loyal fans that they want easier access to the flavors they love, especially Crystal Light Pure,” said Adam Butler, Senior Brand Manager for Crystal Light.  “This new e-commerce platform enables us to make a wide variety of unique flavors and varieties readily available to fans anywhere in the country.”

Shop.CrystalLight.com will initially offer more than 20 different SKUs from four different platforms, including Base (8 flavors), Pure (5 flavors), Mocktails (5 flavors) and Energy (4 flavors) varieties. The online store will offer a number of products available exclusively at Shop.CrystalLight.com, including Mocktails Peach Bellini and Mocktails Pomtini. The site makes Crystal Light Pure, a fan favorite offering no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors and no preservatives, available nationwide. Additional flavors and varieties will be added to the e-store starting in 2014.

Making hard to find products available quickly and easily through direct purchase is a growing trend, and a product like Crystal Light is a natural fit for an ecommerce site. Shop.CrystalLight.com includes more than just links to purchase products. It also includes promotions to increase sales through its e-store. Visitors can share the site with friends to get special discounts, and they can get free shipping on their first order.

At launch, social features on the site are limited. Visitors can publish product reviews and share products through social media profiles, but I’m hoping there will be more community-building features added to the site in the future.

From loyal consumers’ perspectives, who can no longer find their favorite product flavors, sizes, or varieties in a local store, this type of site fills a big gap and meets their needs. As long as pricing and promotions stay competitive, Shop.CrystalLight.com and other e-stores like it should do just fine.

What do you think of niche consumer products selling directly to consumers through branded ecommerce sites?

Image: Kraft Food Groups

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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