Bay Food Brokerage has served as Tommee Tippee’s Publix broker since September 2020. During that time, we’re proud to have helped this global baby product brand get several items onto shelves of the largest regional grocery chain in the Southeast.
And, we’re especially grateful to Justin Glance, Tommee Tippee’s Director of Sales & Business Development, for sharing his perspective of our partnership in this blog post.
About Tommee Tippee
Based in the United Kingdom, Tommee Tippee is a global brand that has a mission to become the world’s most loved baby company and sells baby products in over 65 countries. Products range from baby bottles to toddler cups to breastfeeding and diaper-changing products. Tommee Tippee is committed to bringing innovative products to life that help moms and dads enjoy the rollercoaster ride of bringing up baby.
Tommee Tippee’s simple, intuitive and innovative products have made it the number-one-selling baby product brand in the U.K. and Australia.
The Opportunity: Publix, the Largest Regional Grocer in the Southeast
Tommee Tippee entered the U.S. market around 10 years ago.
“We launched in the U.S. with specialty retailers like Babies “R” Us,” Justin said. “Then, we secured mass accounts with Walmart and Target. For us, grocery was the final frontier to maximize opportunities in the U.S. So, we eventually shifted our focus to food retailers.”
According to Justin, Tommee Tippee got onto shelves in Kroger early on, as well as Ahold and regional grocers H-E-B and Meijer. But Publix, which has over 1,300 stores throughout the Southeast, was “hard to crack.”
“The Publix buyer for baby products was happy with his category’s growth and wasn’t looking to set up new manufacturers,” Justin said. “They turned us down for about five years.”
Tommee Tippee had been trying to make headway with Publix by leveraging their internal sales team. Leaders eventually realized it was time to try working with a retail food broker.
Justin’s predecessor began the search for a Publix broker. Another vendor to Publix had recommended she contact Bay Food Brokerage and a national broker. Tommee Tippee was impressed with Bay Food’s regional expertise and depth of service at Publix. The company hired Bay Food Brokerage as its Publix broker in September 2020.
The Results: Getting Six Products into Publix
Bay Food Account Executive Greg Betz and the Bay Food team began making plans to pitch Tommee Tippee’s products to Publix. Knowing they would find similar hurdles in the baby category, the team focused on the therapeutic category.
“This was during the height of the pandemic,” Greg said. “We saw an opportunity to fill a void with another buyer and get two baby thermometers on Publix’s shelves. It got Tommee Tippee a foot in the door.”
The buyer in the therapeutics category agreed to bring in Tommee Tippee’s thermometers if the baby product brand went through food distributor KeHE, which was already set up in Publix’s system.
“We didn’t have a relationship with KeHE at that point,” Justin said. “Greg was really helpful in assisting with getting us set up and managing that relationship. This got our Publix business off the ground, just not in the way we thought it would.”
Tommee Tippee became an active vendor with Publix with the thermometer products. Then, Greg and the team pitched the baby products buyer again. The plan included an instant redeemable coupon (IRC) promotional plan for two baby bottle and two toddler cup products.
However, the factory wasn’t going to be able to add the IRCs to the packaging and deliver the products to Publix in time for launch. So, Greg and the Bay Food team offered a solution: the printer would send the IRCs to Bay Food’s office. Then, Bay Food would distribute the coupons to its retail representatives to apply the coupons to the products at the stores.
“I think one of the reasons we were able to close the deal this year is the fact that Greg did a good job explaining the services that Bay Food offered to the buyer, like Bay Food’s retail reps’ ability to directly touch the products,” Justin said. “As far as a launch plan goes, it’s almost critical to have that support to get off the ground and running fast.”
Today, Tommee Tippee has six products in Publix stores.
“Getting into Publix was significant – it’s a big volume for us to have that many doors,” Justin said. “Finally achieving this was noticed all the way up through the company.”
The Experience: A Proactive and Persistent Publix Broker Partner
“This is really a story of stick-to-itiveness,” Justin said. “Greg and the Bay Food team pursued every angle. They also did a great job of explaining to the buyer the value their retail reps bring in-store.”
Justin also lauded the Bay Food team’s strong communications skills and fact-based approach to setting realistic expectations. He said he and Tommee Tippee appreciate the “soft-skills” a regional broker like Bay Food brings to manufacturers.
“Bay Food understands Publix deeply, knows the market, has relationships with buyers and distributors,” Justin said. “And, they know what levers to pull promotionally. These are the things that matter in the end. It’s why we work with regional brokers rather than using a national broker model.”