Are Shark Tank-like competitions a path to retail innovation?
Grocer Stew Leonard’s, The Meadows, an open-air shopping complex in St. Louis, and Title Nine, the women’s activewear chain based in Emeryville, CA, are all orchestrating competitions mimicking the hit show, Shark Tank, to discover fresh ideas.
The first-ever “Stew’s Tank” competition invited New York-based food companies to upload their “best sales pitch video” to Stew Leonard’s website. Selected vendors advanced to the next round to meet with the grocer’s buying team for a sales presentation. The grocer will test the products chosen by its buyers and track sales during June at the chain’s East Meadow store.
The best-sellers will then be judged by a panel of local chefs and Stew Leonard, Jr., CEO, and the winners will be added to all stores in New York and Connecticut in July.
“Stew Leonard’s launched rock star brands like Newman’s Own, Bear Naked Granola, Rao’s Marinara Sauce, and Long Island’s Butera’s Meatballs,” said Mr. Leonard. “My family and I are excited about Stew’s Tank and we can’t wait to taste our next best-selling product!”
The Meadows, owned by New York-based Cohen Equities, in late May launched its first RetailNEXT competition to find the “next big thing in retail.” The Meadows asked existing brick & mortar retailers, online retailers and start-ups currently in business to submit ideas for a new concept, meet with judges and conduct a final 10-minute presentation in front of a panel of retail experts, including Maxine Clark, founder, Build-A-Bear Workshop.
The winner will be assisted in launching their concept at The Meadows and earn free rent for a year. The Meadows’ statement read, “The goal of this competition is to accelerate successful concepts that will work, not only for the entrepreneurs, but also become a model for malls to find future tenants — in St. Louis and beyond.”
In September, Title Nine will launch its second Movers And Makers Pitchfest competition to give women entrepreneurs a chance to earn mentoring and a purchase order from Title Nine.
Shark Tank-style pitch competitions are fairly common at high schools and colleges, as well as at trade shows. Municipalities have also used them to explore new ideas.
- Stew’s Tank: On the Hunt for the Next Must-Have Hit Food Product – Stew Leonard’s
- The Meadows at Lake St. Louis Launches RetailNEXT to Search for “The Next Big Thing in Retail” – The Meadows/PRWeb
- RetailNEXT – The Meadows
- Movers & Makers Pitchfest – Title Nine
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Shark Tank-style pitch competitions as a way for retailers, shopping center owners or vendors to discover new ideas? Are such events likely a bigger PR benefit than a source for innovation? How can they be executed most effectively?