We wrote about the soft-launch of Basemakers, a merchandising company started jointly by Just Chill founder Max Baumann and Minta founder Jenia Kokotuha, in late May; Baumann stopped by the BevNET office recently to fill in some of the broad strokes outlined in the first story.
Baumann told us that the service is starting out in natural and specialty hotbeds Southern California and Denver, with the intent on expanding into contiguous areas like San Francisco, Portland, and the Pacific Northwest in the months to come. It’s a quick expansion dependent on the service proving to be an asset for its clients. He revealed a fourth client, Runa, along with the two founding brands and HiBall Energy Drinks; all four have strong natural and specialty ties but try to run thin staffs against a national footprint.
The key, he said, is to offer high-quality merchandising upgrades for brands based on their promotional schedules, so that when Basemaker representatives hit the stores, they are able to build attractive end-cap displays to draw attention to the products. While a small brand might not be able to earn an endcap on its own, in combination with other Basemaker clients, they can create an impactful assortment that can lift them all.
“When we’re in stores, other brands are dominating us, so why don’t we split a merchandiser?” Baumann said. “The long-term vision is that we want gorcery managers to see a Basemakers logo on a hat and say, ‘this guy has brands that sell, and he knows what he’s doing with them. And he has the compelling data to back it up.’”
That data will come from a kind of tech-supported joint merchandising strategy; the company is using a service developed jointly with field marketing software firm Repsly to refine the displays store-by-store and make the case for brands with grocery managers by documenting extra lift during promotional periods.
Another in-store strategy is to move brands that are on or approaching scheduled promos into valuable cold-box real estate; the idea there is to leverage relationships with store managers to allow those brands to maximize their promotional period — something that is hard to do if you aren’t working with a high-touch broker or DSD network that guarantees that kind of service.
“We’re offering merchandising at the store level,” he said. “We can be most impactful there, not necessarily on a chain call.”
The idea is that combining displays and promotions at the same time can create powerful results, but that kind of work, for smaller brands, is best outsourced, particularly if they are largely working through networks of natural and specialty accounts.
“It’s tons of labor and man-work,” he said. “DSD’s can’t handle [merchandising] with all of their stores.”