Strategies to Maximize Ingredient-Retail Brand Partnerships

If you work in marketing or product development, incorporating an ingredient brand into your offerings might be a desirable consideration for an innovative retail brand partnership. After all, they provide an unmatched opportunity when it comes to differentiating your product, reaching previously untapped consumers, and accessing resources you might not have.
That’s because a great ingredient brand not only offers up credible benefits that can apply across many different industries and product categories, but can also help a host brand increase its value proposition. On the flip side, a host company can balance this out by offering visibility and legitimacy to the ingredient brand.
Regardless, it’s no secret that these mutually beneficial product collaborations between retailers and ingredient brands are complex. Making a partnership work requires more than a legally binding contract — even when the mutual benefits seem clear and easily attainable. To ensure a joint venture achieves your goals, you’ll need the help of both parties’ marketing departments.

The Value of Joint Marketing Strategies

After contracts are signed and the product goes into development, it’s tempting for each marketing team to focus independently on their objectives. After all, the other team has their preferred channels and processes, and vice versa.
In order to truly fuel consistent business growth, increase each brand’s profile, and turn occasional customers into loyalists, however, clear alignment is necessary to the success of the partnership. You’ve created a product together, and you’re both invested in its success.
Sure, the host brand takes the lead because it’s that company’s product. Regardless, the ingredient brand can help identify and articulate the key benefits of their technology, provide co-marketing support, and amplify the launch message.
Therefore, combine forces to appeal to something a little deeper. Marketing an ingredient-retail brand partnership is about marrying each party’s visual identity and language to jointly tell a story about a product that genuinely resonates. Forging a collaborative marketing strategy also enables both brands to leverage each other’s audiences through multichannel marketing, thereby expanding your audience exposure.
Simply consider a clothing partnership. Imagine that much-loved outdoors retailer REI partnered with GORE-TEX to create a jacket with its proprietary waterproof technology. GORE-TEX, like other ingredient brands, is a trusted, certified technology that’s meant to add functional performance benefits to REI’s end product. And though there’s likely some audience overlap, to truly maximize their reach, both marketing teams must explore how to sell this waterproof jacket together across channels.

3 Marketing Elements to Consider

If you’re a key player in a similar partnership, you can boost your chances of success by setting clear expectations. Then, you can get to work promoting the product in a way that serves both parties:

1. Outline exactly how the product, collection or line will change with the new partnership.

At the initial stages of an ingredient-retail brand partnership, your most critical to-do is defining your purpose. You likely have a general idea in mind of how an ingredient brand will level up your product, but be sure to also ask yourself the following questions to extract the nitty-gritty details:

  • What problem does our consumer face that’s not currently addressed by our offerings?
  • How does the ingredient brand solve this?
  • How is our joint way of solving the problem different or better than our competitors?
  • How do we best communicate this to consumers?

Having this framework as your North Star ensures you have something to look back on so you don’t stray too far from your original partnership goals.

2. Determine the key benefit of the partnership — and how that story will be told.

Next, narrow down the No. 1 benefit this partnership provides consumers. There are usually a few (whether that’s cutting-edge technology, health benefits, performance enhancements), but singling out the most impactful one helps focus your brand story.
Once this is complete, carefully map out how that story is relayed to consumers via lifestyle marketing. A powerful origin story that explains what the ingredient brand offers the retail partner (and therefore, the end consumer) will be what sets a final product apart.
Focus on simplicity and purpose here; engaging, motivating stories make users feel like buying a product is the right thing to do. Likewise, the origin story must make sense and have an emotional component to provide value. That way, target audiences have the “aha!” moment that allows them to see why the partnership developed.
For example, consider my company’s positioning for the CELLIANT-Sunlighten brand partnership. Both parties are known for using infrared technology to offer health and wellness benefits for their customers. The origin story capitalized on this “infrared meets infrared” effort and highlighted Sunlighten as the only sauna company to offer branded accessories infused with infrared textiles.

3. Figure out the perfect channels and tactics to use for marketing.

Again, every party in a partnership has its own ideas of what works and what doesn’t for its individual brand marketing — but every ingredient-retail brand partnership needs its own customized mix of channels and tactics to truly realize success.
Luckily, both parties’ strengths and specialties can be combined. Let’s say one party has a world-class public relations firm that helps create compelling press for its launches, and the other has a large social media footprint. In a collaborative partnership, both marketing teams feel comfortable sharing everything from insights to tools. When resources can flow between partners smoothly, campaigns can be created and deployed more efficiently.
At the same time, consider channels you might never have taken a second glance at before. Can you arrange for POP displays to draw more eyeballs? Hang tags that tell the partnership’s story in an intriguing way? Video efforts on social media? Think big — your efforts are sure to reward you and your partner in the long run.
When they’re done well and with great coordination between both marketing teams, retail company and ingredient brand partnerships can increase both parties’ buzz and profit margins. Just remember that marketers are at the heart of making the relationship a true success.
Charlotte Pratt leads global marketing at Hologenix, a materials science company dedicated to developing products that amplify human potential. CELLIANT®, its flagship technology, is an infrared ingredient brand that enhances textile-based products with health and wellness benefits across performance, recovery and sleep.  This article was originally published on