Claire Nuttall, founder of The Brand Incubator, gives advice on making contact with buyers, what they look for in a supplier, and how to develop a win-win relationship.


When making an initial approach to a buyer, do your homework and ensure you have a view on what their strategy for the category is compared with other retailers’ strategies for the same category. A catch-all perspective might not be enough, so be specific to them and show you want to be taken seriously.

Send an email and follow up with samples presented in a way that really reflects what you want your brand to convey. Just bagging up a few samples and sending them through the post is not going to get you noticed or taken seriously.

It is important that any initial email or communication should not be long-winded and self-indulgent about you or your brand. It needs to be attention-grabbing and crisp in its detail and emphasis, otherwise it will not cut through and may not even get read.

Persistence, without hassling, is also key. Do not expect miracles to happen within moments of you sending things through.

Buyers look for genuine passion and a desire from the supplier to work together in a win-win relationship. They want to see a real strategy and what you would be replacing or bringing to the category – help them understand your role and how you can help them grow their business.

For example: What will make you unique in that category and differentiate vs the current offer? How will you deliver clear incremental growth to the category? Do you have a clear understanding and justification of the recommended retail price? Can you demonstrate a clear, deep understanding of who is and will be your target consumer?

Underpin this with data/research that shows the value of your brand as perceived by your target audience in a way that is relevant to their strategy and brand, not just any other retailer. The more specific to them you can be, the better.

Once a listing is secured, build your relationship with a buyer by understanding their objectives and try to address those aspirations.

Think about your brand, but also be conscious that buyers are growing a category, not just your brand in isolation. Be clever when promoting – any ways that break the norms and deliver improved results would be advantageous.

Also, anticipate challenges and be open about them before they become a problem. Don’t just land a problem; buyers need solutions, so as much support as you can give is always appreciated.