Attracting Partners For Co-Op Advertising

We published a blog a while back about how to start a co-op advertising program in your store. This is a great way to generate revenue while simultaneously strengthening your relationships with your supply partners. 

But what do supply partners look for in retailers when deciding to participate in a co-op advertising program? 

We asked some of our supply partners what they look for. Please note, that every vendor is different. This is not a comprehensive list. We surveyed six of our supply members with a vast history of participating in these programs for their thoughts. 

Every Store Is Different

Some of the supply members we surveyed could not provide definite answers about co-op because of this fact. Every store is different. Each level of partnership will vary from store to store. If Store A does $100,000 in sales of Brand X and Store B across town does $200,000 with the same brand, you’re likely not going to have the same level of partnership. 

Budgets are typically allocated based on the previous year’s sales and projections on the next year. Some stores won’t get any co-op money even if they do well with a brand. It really just depends. 

I have seen stores that are looking to expand and grow a line that are on a mission to succeed and so the co-op dollars are not necessarily related to the percentage of dollars spent but rather an investment in future sales,” stated one of our broker members in southwest Florida. 

So again, every store is different and every brand is different. Make sure you ask your individual reps and brokers about this. And remember, just because they don’t participate now, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Keep asking your reps about if they want to participate later on. For reasons outlined below, you may just need to prove yourself a little bit more. 

What Brands Look For In Retail Partners

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about the money when it comes to determining what stores will be selected as co-op partners. 

“What we look for is partnership and shared enthusiasm. I ask myself questions like – Does the account have all or most of our SKUs? Are they participating in our promo program? Are they allowing us to educate their staff? A good representation of products and staff support gives better yields on our co-op dollars spent. I look for stores that “get” our company mission and are seeking the same from vendors,” said a brand based in Texas. 

You could pick up a line at SOHO Expo and get that company to participate in co-op advertising after a matter of months. If they see you are super on-board with their brand and are excited about it, they could participate without hardly any sales to back it up. 

This sentiment was shared by another broker in Florida. “I would add that there is an X factor beyond dollars spent and the number of SKUs carried on the shelf. Vendors want a reason to say YES. Vendors are looking to participate in a well laid out plan where they can see the store is actively behind a marketing or advertising strategy.”

The reverse could be true of the example of the stores noted above. The store that does $200,000 in sales for Brand X could be on a slow decline and the store that does $100,000 in sales for the same brand could snag more co-op dollars if they have the characteristics and passion that brands are seeking. 

So, don’t let your sales be a discouragement. There are other ways to attract those brands to your store. 

What Is The ROI?

Everyone wants a good return on investment with any ad that they run. Your brands feel the same about co-op. Oftentimes brands will look for some form of buy in with the co-op ad.

Be ready to make deals with your brands. If you are not willing to buy into their promos, pass along line-drive discounts, etc., you may have a hard time landing those co-op dollars. Or you may not be able to renew them.  

One broker in southeast Florida said, “The return does not have to be anything huge but enough to make sure that whatever product is being advertised has a strong enough presence on the shelf to ensure that the advertising will be successful.”

Make sure you are sending sales reports to your brands following their promos and offering insights to them. If they performed well, tell them what worked well. If they didn’t have a great ROI that month or declined, that’s okay! Just offer suggestions for how to improve next time. For example, coordinate a training prior to the next ad to help staff sell the products better. 

What Brands Really Want 

At the end of the day, brands want their products to get in the hands of the people who need them. They do that by promoting brand awareness and retailer support. Co-op is a great way to do that. 

By being passionate, strategic, and willing to work with your brands, you will be very surprised at how many brands will be willing to partner with you in this way. 

We hope you can take some of this information and implement it to further the growth of your store and the brands you carry. 



SENPA is a non-profit organization with a core focus on strengthening the success of independent natural retailers and aligned manufacturers, while nourishing their human connection with consumers. We are a leading voice, supporter and advocate for the natural-products industry, rooted in the experience of enhanced health and the power of personal relationships.

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