Sniffy Wiffy pitches cancer awareness skincare products to ASDA
I was delighted, as founder of Sniffy Wiffy Ltd, to be invited to attend ASDA's Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy 6-9 June 2017. This involved a jam-packed 4 days in Leeds at ASDA's Merchandising Centre of Excellence (MCE). The Academy was run in conjunction with Social Investment Scotland and gave valuable insight into all things retail. The emphasis, of course, was on #buysocial and it was an eye-opening experience to meet the other Social Enterprises in attendance, hearing about their journeys and very different social impacts. The product range was huge - candles, fairtrade sports balls, coffee, socks, gin and much more. The event was inspiring and insightful and I felt privileged to be given the opportunity to hear personal journeys of those who are now listed in ASDA, such as Alan Mahon of Brewgooder, and have dinner with SEUK patron Michael Sheen.
Although the Academy was hugely focused on offering advice and insights into all things retail, the opportunity to pitch to a group of ASDA buyers was I think, for many, the main focus - a nerve-provoking but amazing experience. Pitching took place in an auditorium at the MCE and each Social Enterprise had a strict 5 minute timeslot. This was followed by a Q&A session from the ASDA team and ranged from them asking some people quite challenging questions, complimenting others and in some cases no questions at all. The key was to be prepared for any eventuality - know your product inside out and be prepared for constructive criticism.
Pitching was also a useful exercise in terms of the feedback that was given afterwards - the need to provide buyers with the information that they need to be able to make informed decisions (such as any technical accreditation, commercial proposition, where your product would fit on their shelves and perhaps just as important - the need to smile!).
Perhaps the most vital piece of advice was to really get to grips with 'who is your customer'. The research that goes behind this at ASDA's MCE is mind-boggling and we benefitted from lectures delivered by the ASDA team on topics such as the growth and use of insight data, innovations and trends in retail, consumer purchasing and ethical buying behaviour as well as a branding and social media masterclass.
On a personal level, this event motivated and inspired me to have faith in the fact that what is currently a kitchen-table business run solely by myself does have legs and with the right mindset and resources can indeed grow into something that can have a wider social impact. Sniffy Wiffy's mission is to increase the number of ladies and gents who know about - and self-check for - the signs and symptoms of breast and testicular cancer, significantly raising awareness that a lump is most certainly not the only sign. We encourage an individual and hands-on approach in the fight against cancer by offering skincare products (including body lotion and hair & body wash) labelled with the various steps involved in performing a self breast/testicular check. Products are made using a maximum of only 6 main ingredients and all are SLS and paraben free. Included in my pitch was the fact that I have received emails from 2 women who, having bought one of my products, found what turned out to be breast cancer. I strongly believe that if I can achieve this by myself then having a huge corporate such as ASDA on board could have astounding results across the nation in terms of early detection, which is of course key to achieving more positive outcomes should you be diagnosed with cancer. I am now seeking ways in which to grow what I hope to become a Social Enterprise that finds a place on every bathroom shelf across the UK.
Sarah Parkins email@example.com 07852 223022