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HERE, THERE, EREWHON

Erewhon. The name of this upscale Southern California health food store sounds like a mystical land (it’s reportedly an anagram of Nowhere) and getting on its shelves—and in front of celebrities, power players, influencers, 1 percenters, and other customers who are ok with spending $20 on an organic soup geared for a specific diet—is just as much of a mystical endeavor.

Yet for all of its occult allure (and hilarious jokes on Twitter), Erewhon isn’t an impossible get. As with other stores from Whole Foods to Sprouts and big box retailers, getting into Erewhon requires persistence and patience. And a list of acceptable ingredients.

Travis Piéd of Lume started his collagen-infused granola snack in 2017 in San Diego with the initial goal of building the name in the area before expanding into retail. That meant knocking on doors of cafes and smaller markets, doing demos nearly every day and collecting feedback on taste and packaging. When a friend told him about the Erewhon market in Los Angeles, he had to check it out.

“A lot of my favorite brands, D2C natives, I found there,” Travis said of his first visit to Erewhon. “I loved the culture. It really felt like a hub for discovering new, innovative products and that stood out for me. That’s a part of Lume’s culture too, not only with the products we have now, but what we will put out in the future. They will be experimental and unique and I thought Erewhon embodied all those characteristics and qualities.”

Ashley Kohn, founder of Prevail Jerky, also sought out Erewhon for her product because their health-conscious values aligned. “Erewhon is known for its incredible high standards when it comes to food,” she said. “They have the same values and mission as our company and we knew that if we could get our product in front of their customers that it would be a great fit.” (Hear more from Travis about getting into Erewhon on our Instagram Live.)

Of course, the road to Erewhon is a long one. Persistence and patience are required. For Lume, the journey took more than a year before finally landing on the shelves last July. For Prevail, it took about a year. Michelle Razavi, co-founder of Elavi protein bars, said she learned to master the art of the follow-up in the nine months it took to land in Erewhon.

Here are a few more tried-and-true trail markers to follow on your Erewhon quest:

Apply online. This is step #1 but keep in mind that Erewhon has a long list of ingredients that are not allowed so be sure your product qualifies.

Stay in touch. Travis would drive two hours to Erewhon for a 10-minute meeting and then drive back home. He would drop off samples, then follow up with store managers with company updates, sales info and more.

Scope out the store. Study the layout of the store, Travis advised, to see where your product might be a good fit. That way during your next chat with a store manager, you have a specific location for your product.

Understand the target customer. The Erewhon customer is different from a convenience store customer, Travis said, adding that he designed his product for an Erewhon-specific customer.

Master the art of the follow-up. “Buyers are extremely busy and receive a ton of emails, so following up is key but you also don’t want to annoy them,” Michelle said. “I set reminders to check in every 10-14 days, and made sure I followed up with updates on our e-commerce sales + traction in each email.”

Consider a boutique broker. Dedication and persistence helps but so do brokers who also have close relationships with the buyers at Erewhon.

Prove yourselves elsewhere. For Travis and Lume, while Erewhon was an absolute goal, ramping up their D2C sales and gathering that feedback, was just as important, especially once Covid-19 hit and in-store demos were stopped. Then they could use that sales data to show Erewhon their trajectory.

“If your product is a right fit for them and you keep persisting and keep at it, there’s a good shot they will give you a chance,” he said.
Don't forget about D2C. While Erewhon does help its suppliers with tracking their performance and feedback through their CARE program (Create a Remarkable Experience platform), Lume is staying focused on D2C for the next 18-24 months, including integrating an SMS platform. That way they can collect their own data on their customers and use that to determine where to launch in retail next.

“For the next six months to a year, we’ll be honing in on digital channels, finding new audiences and seeing what works,” Travis said.
WHO'S MADE IT TO EREWHON?

📻 Erewhon in the Clubhouse 

CLUBHOUSE CHAT: The fine folks at Startup CPG are hosting a tips and tricks for getting into Erewhon chat tomorrow evening featuring Kabir Jain, Chief of Staff at Erewhon, along with a great group of F&B makers. If you want to have a listen, but don't have a Clubhouse invite yet, we have a few left, just mail us at makers@foodboro.com.

👀 As Seen on The Shelves

FRIENDS AT EREWHON: Check out some more food and beverage brands that have recently landed on the shelves at Erewhon from sips and sweets, to pantry staples and snacks. Have you conquered Erewhon? Share your story with us! 
 

⚡️ Foodboro Digital Cohort

READY, SET, COHORT: Time is running out to apply for our February '21 digital growth cohort! We have an awesome chance for our members to join a new cohort that will accelerate their digital growth together, powered by Shopify and our community. 

🧠 Reading Roundup: January 26, 2021


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