It's time to be honest with you about the business side of Goodbye- and why that matters to you and all of us
I need to tell you a little about what is happening here at Goodbye. Since March we have been running between 40% and 50% down on last year. We knew that our products were tied to tourism and outdoor recreation. We just didn't know how much.
I don't want to add to your stress with this information, but I use our story as a way to let you know how powerful you are. So stay with me.
For the past 20 years, my husband John and I have guided our business with self-funded, consistent growth, offering a new product every other year or so. When we celebrated our 20 years in business in December, I really felt like I was putting a cherry on top. We had done the hard work, and now we could just enjoy the coming years of running the business. The kids are older, the business is more established and trusted - that makes it easier.
But as you know, Covid does not make it easier.
By April we had re-written our budget and applied to the bank for funding. We decided to close our online shop up in April/May (even though we were classified as an essential service) as it was coming into winter. I focused on supporting other Kiwi businesses through our blog instead.
In May we had a new plan, new products in development and the funding to get through a low. And by the beginning of June, we were in crisis, again.
In our annual review with one of the supermarket chains in June, we were told that all five of our Goodbye OUCH products in lip care and sun care were likely to be 'de-listed'. It used to be 'deleted' but perhaps the new term 'de-listing' is considered somehow less unpleasant. It's not.
Even though our nationwide data showed that Goodbye OUCH is growing, and achieved the #1 selling natural lip balm in the country in March 2020 for the second year, the supermarket applied its own specific metrics. There was no consideration for the fact that we were the only certified natural brand on shelf, the only NZ made brand on shelf or the only lip balm not packaged in plastic.
We've been in supermarkets a long time. I have always felt grateful that a Ma and Pa start up in New Zealand could do what we had done - becoming a nationwide brand with Goodbye SANDFLY in 2009, then a nationwide brand with Goodbye OUCH in 2015. There's been some hair raising moments along the way. But nothing prepared me for the meetings that happened in June.
At every level, in every meeting during this time I heard the same thing, 'We just provide what the customer wants.'
In the face of the most New Zealand-proud, buy local, support local, buy value, support ethical, and the most extraordinary time I have ever witnessed in retail, our products were seen as expendable.
Our negotiations resulted in four of our five products remaining on shelf. For now. Our products will be reviewed again in February.
Here's where you come in.
Not just for us, but for many small NZ businesses. As our natural segment has grown, so has the desire from multi-national companies to join us in this space. They have large budgets and are driven by market share (that's how they think of you) in order to deliver more profit to their shareholders.
Retail chains and brands pay a lot of attention to what and how you buy. They can tell you how many lip balms you buy every year. They can tell how loyal you are to brands and how much you want things to be on special before you are motivated to purchase. They match that up with how much money they make from your purchase and, bingo, there's the decision for what stays on shelf and what goes.
We can't compete on how much money we can give to the stores to 'buy' shelf space. Our pockets will never be as deep as a big brand looking for that shelf space. We can only stay there if enough customers buy our products.
You are a dollar voter. You can use your dollar in the most influential and beneficial way. Every purchase you make, makes a difference.
I've always trusted that when people are ready to understand the value that we offer, they will find us. I still trust that.
But, if I stay quiet, our products will quietly disappear from the shelf. The first natural sunscreen in supermarkets. The number one selling natural lip balm. The only lip balm that is NOT in plastic. The only natural SPF lip balm. The only certified natural skin care in supermarkets. New Zealand made. A business that gives back through One Percent for the Planet. These are now endangered species.
It's easy to feel powerless in these times. Covid is shaking us all, everywhere in the world. But we are actually powerful in the most everyday way.
What we buy is what stays on shelf. It invites innovation and development for MORE of that. Our dollars shape the world. If you want local, healthier, better packaged, more ethical products, vote them onto the shelf. Buy them. Celebrate them.
Choose to Change
This is one of our four truth statements that drive our business. It is the activism side of our business. For us as the business, we choose to change by driving our business as a vehicle for service, always considering the sustainability and ethics of each aspect. It's our journey.
It is also the promise that we've made to work to empower you. In the past we've done this solely through the products that we make and our messages of wellness.
As of this moment, Choose to Change is also letting you know that every dollar you spend has incredible power.
Thirteen weeks is all it takes to change the data picture at supermarkets.
Take a look at your shopping basket and see where your vote is going. And why. Look up the businesses that are behind the products that you buy each week. Then, if you are not completely happy with your audit, #choosetochange
With respect, Becky Cashman- Founder and Product Maker
This was a hard post to write- it's hard to let people behind the optimism of the brand, to reveal more of the landscape, which still includes optimism, but a much grittier version of it. Business is not always fun. You may find that this is all too much, and it's not my intention to burden you, in any way. Not even to get you to buy our beautiful products. It's my intention to let you know that, whatever is happening in your world, you have more power than you perhaps know. And the more that you know it, the better focused your decisions become, and the more influence you have. You shape this world.
Image: Becky looks out to the ocean on a winter's evening- Takou Bay, Northland, New Zealand
Join the Conversation
Thank you for all the ways you support local, support small, support ethical. In your own way, amplify this message. Share, use #choosetochange hashtag, talk to the people around you. We are connected by nature, and together we make life better.
There are many wonderful things happening in this time. I have made so many new connections in these past few months. I'm making new products, which makes me very happy. I cannot wait to introduce you!
A heads up, start thinking about getting your camera going for a 30-second testimonial.