Background and challenge

A leading manufacturer of branded vitamins, minerals and supplements had built a nicely growing business for a brand by selling via Amazon and direct-to-consumer (DTC), but had no presence in mainstream brick-and-mortar retailers such as Walmart, Target and Costco. The company believed the growth runway for the brand would be limited until it penetrated these channels, and asked L.E.K. Consulting to develop a strategy and execution roadmap to help the company achieve its aggressive growth goals for this up-and-coming brand.

With L.E.K.’s expertise, in a matter of months, the manufacturer was able to launch a promising online-only brand into one of the largest food/drug/mass (FDM) retailers in the U.S.

Approach and recommendations

We supported our client during three distinct phases: developing a where-to-play/how-to-win fact base, creating a go-to-market strategy and roadmap, and strategizing on channel entry and sell-in support.

Developing a where-to-play/how-to-win fact base

We conducted an extensive consumer research study to segment the food, drug, mass, club (FDMC) market by consumer type, separating the consumers by the relative focus on “ingredients” vs. “solutions” in their nutritional supplement purchasing. We analyzed these segments to identify what needs were being underserved by the current selection of vertical marketing system options in FDMC and how our client’s brand propositions could address these needs. We then analyzed nutritional supplement trends in brick-and-mortar retail — including lasting impacts from COVID-19 — that would create opportunities for the brand. Through retailer discussions, we further validated the case for unmet needs in their assortment and identified key drivers of success for new brands looking to gain traction.

We followed up by conducting a strategic segmentation of the nutritional supplement market to identify the most attractive categories (e.g., need states) for future growth, and assessed the competitive landscape facing the client’s brand and its relative competitive positioning to understand its “right to win” — i.e., how well positioned the brand was to gain market share.

Finally, we identified the categories, consumers, competitive segments and channels where the brand should play, including specific insights for how it could successfully gain share.

Creating a go-to-market strategy and roadmap

After identifying critical brand-building and channel-activation tactics for the brand to transition from DTC to brick-and-mortar retail, we developed the roadmap for strategy execution, including tasks, responsibilities and timelines across six key strategic initiatives:

  • Codifying brand fundamentals
  • Developing account-specific “pitch” decks
  • Budgeting specific brand-building and channel-activation activities
  • Cultivating online presence to support growth
  • Developing account-specific launch plans
  • Monitoring and refining ongoing brand-building efforts

We then turned our attention to strategizing entry into brick-and-mortar retailers.

Strategizing on channel entry and sell-in support

We worked to develop a compelling incrementality story for the brand’s entry into mass, grocery and club retail by understanding how consumers would react to the introduction of new options on the shelf compared with the existing assortment. We then partnered with the client’s sales leadership to develop a robust retail buyer presentation, supported by research with the retailers’ own customers.


The strategy developed by L.E.K. and the client team gave the client’s investors the confidence to provide the required funding for the growth plan, and the manufacturer was able to launch the brand into brick-and-mortar FDM stores in a short period of time. We identified over $100 million (MSP) of potential opportunity for the client. In addition, within six months of the project, the category incrementality story L.E.K. established for the brand helped the client secure thousands of points of distribution for multiple SKUs with one of the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailers. Thus, the brand was set up for tremendous future growth potential.

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