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After years working with FMCG giants like Kellogg’s and PepsiCo, Australian business woman Nicky Jackson took product development into her own hands with the launch of an organic skincare range for kids called Dermababy in 2013. But back then, it wasn’t easy to get recognised as a smaller supplier. 

“I found it virtually impossible to get the attention of buyers because I wasn’t coming from  a big multinational,” Jackson said. 

“The market was shifting, there was a movement away from big national brands 

at the time, but there wasn’t a solution for brands to connect with retailers; you had to have an established relationship, or go through an agent or broker.”

Her struggles to launch the product inspired the creation of product sourcing marketplace RangeMe in 2014, a place where retailers can discover emerging suppliers and products.

Now Jackson’s RangeMe marketplace is a connection point for over 15,000 retailers  including Walmart, Sephora, Walgreens, Petco, 7-Eleven and Albertsons and 200,000 global innovative and emerging product suppliers.

With 75 per cent of the top 100 retailers in the US under its belt, RangeMe launched in the UK and APAC earlier this year, and most recently has expanded across the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) region.

“The Benelux region represents a powerful economic area in Europe with a strong, well-organised retail sector,” said Jackson, founder and CEO of RangeMe. “Like in most countries, there is a significant shift to online and retailers will be keen to stay on top of the latest demands and trends. 

What’s trending in FMCG?

Representing more than 750,000 products, RangeMe has a bird’s-eye view of key trends in various markets. In the US, a key focus is on supporting diverse- and minority-owned businesses. In August, beauty giant Sephora launched a campaign to celebrate Black-owned brands in the business, including Fenty Beauty, Pattern, Bread Beauty Supply, Briogeo and more. 

“There’s a lot of focus on minority-owned businesses in the US, and diverse-owned businesses; we’re seeing a lot of traction with our retail partners,” Jackson said. 

“America was very big on localisation, and local sourcing, I can see that now in the UK and I can see that in Australia working with Coles supermarkets, they are very focused on local sourcing, where they are opening local stores.”

Jackson said that Walmart’s ‘Made in America’ campaign, which was designed to source more locally-made products, had around 6000 submissions. They met virtually with 800 suppliers and around 40 made it onto the shelves. 

In the UK, Jackson said many retailers including Asda are launching incubator programs to help onboard innovative suppliers.

“They are realising the need for innovation and discovery of new suppliers for consumers,” she said. 

“The market has shifted in Australia too; there are more trending brands hitting the shelves.”

Growth of private label

While private label is continuing to grow globally, Jackson says the UK and Europe still lead the way. 

“Private label is very well developed [in the UK and Europe] compared to Australia and the US. The US is one step ahead of Australia when it comes to private label,” Jackson said. 

“When I was a child, private label was embarrassing. Now private label is something to be celebrated because often the most unique products are coming out of private label.”

For the private label brands of today, it’s about developing class and premiumness within the brand, according to Jackson. 

Point of difference 

So, what does a supplier need to stand out?

For natural, organic food products to be successful in the US, it’s essential to be USDA Organic certified, Jackson explains. 

“You need that if you want to be considered,” she said. “The sustainability angle is another big tick, having a unique ingredient, another tick. And then there’s the obvious factors like it has to be tasty.”

According to Jackson, it’s all about having a point of difference. 

“Gone are the days where you could have a ‘me-too’ product. What about your product is going to be different, what’s going to set it apart? Has it a specific patent and is it the only one in the market that actually does it? A retailer is looking for that one thing that sets a supplier apart, they have to layer their value and USP.”

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