8th & Walton Works to Get Products on Retail Shelves

by Melissa Ibbotson  on Monday, Apr. 9, 2012 12:00 am  

A Harvard Business School study has shown that a great majority of new products fail, but a Bentonville company, 8th & Walton, is working to change that.

Founder Matt Fifer has joined with others to create the Consumer Product Innovation Lab and a workshop called Selling to the Masses meant to help get new products onto retailers' shelves.

Fifer said the program had "the potential to dramatically increase the success rate of the more than 30,000 consumer products that go to market each year by arming early-stage companies with the tools, resources and connections they will need to go to market."

Selling to the Masses is a three-day workshop during which entrepreneurs will hear from experts in the field, network with others and apply to work with Fifer and the CPI Lab advisory board. The board consists of Bob Connolly, executive vice president of merchandising at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.; Tom Muccio, president of Global Customer Teams at Proctor & Gamble; Andy Murray, founder of Saatchi & Saatchi X; and Lois Mikita, senior vice president of GMM Apparel & Home at Wal-Mart.

"Every person who attends [the workshop] will be given an application for the lab," Fifer said. "We will be receiving applications from people at every stage, ... nothing but a great idea sketched on a napkin to a working prototype."

Fifer said he and the board would then invest their own money into the ideas they choose while working with the company to get products to consumers. He said their decision would be based on a number of factors, including product readiness, organizational readiness, safety and other criteria.

The group will make its determination based on "the best of the best," according to Fifer. "Is it a truly innovative product that people are going to want to buy?"

One of the biggest pluses Fifer said he was bringing to these companies was his location.

"We have the benefit of being headquartered in Bentonville, which is not only home to the world's largest retailer, but also to more than 1,200 of the most successful consumer brand teams, which also have a presence here," he said. "There is nowhere in the world with a greater concentration of knowledge and experience when it comes to taking consumer products to market."

Selling to the Masses is held six times a year in Bentonville. One-day workshops will also be held in Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and other cities throughout the year.

For more information, visit SellingtotheMasses.com or email Fifer at Matt@101-Ventures.com.



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