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Retail Accelerator Programs for Emerging CPG Brands

Retail Accelerator Programs for Emerging CPG Brands

Emerging consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands often face challenges when trying to establish a presence in the competitive retail landscape. That’s why we love seeing our brands partner with major retailers when looking into expansion. 

To support these up-and-coming companies, many retail giants have developed accelerator programs that provide resources, mentorship, and growth opportunities. At Lunr, we keep an eye out for strategic resources that support consumer brands and wanted to share some of the top accelerators we’ve been following - including programs from retailers like Target, Sephora, and Whole Foods. 

Target Accelerator Programs

Target has a long history of supporting emerging brands, and their accelerator programs are a testament to that commitment. With two distinct programs, Forward Founders and Takeoff, Target offers tailored support for CPG brands at different stages of their journey, helping them navigate the retail landscape and achieve success.

Target Forward Founders

  • Objective: Supporting early-stage CPG companies in preparing for retail success
  • Program Details: 10-week virtual program with weekly group sessions and one-on-one meetings focusing on retail readiness, leveraging data, and connecting with industry leaders
  • Benefits: $5,000 stipend, networking opportunities with industry experts and other founders
  • Eligibility: Must have a physical CPG product ready to sell, not be a current Target vendor, and sell direct-to-consumer or in limited retail spaces
  • Application Deadline: Applications for upcoming programs will open in 2024. Connect with the team and get free resources
  • More Details:

Target Takeoff

  • Objective: Helping mature CPG companies scale for mass retail environments
  • Program Details: 5-week program with sessions focused on market planning, buyer interaction, and pitch preparation
  • Benefits: Direct interaction with Target buyers and mentors, culminating in a pitch event
  • Eligibility: Must have a registered business entity, a physical product in specific categories, and not be a current Target vendor
  • Application Deadline: Applications for upcoming programs will open in 2024. Connect with the team to get free resources
  • More Details:

Walmart Start

Walmart Start is an exciting opportunity for emerging beauty brands to tap into Walmart's vast retail ecosystem. By focusing on innovative and uniquely priced products, this program helps promising beauty startups gain exposure, receive mentorship, and maximize their growth potential.

  • Objective: Supporting emerging beauty brands with innovative or uniquely priced products
  • Eligibility: Brands should be beyond the concept phase, with established manufacturing relationships and digital capabilities
  • Program Details: Mentoring, financial investment, and strategic advice to maximize growth potential within Walmart's retail environment
  • Selection and Success: Highly selective program; chosen brands enjoy significant exposure and sales growth
  • Program Reach: Brands typically start in 500 to 1,000 Walmart stores, with potential for further expansion
  • Application Deadline: Applications open until May 24, 2024. Apply now
  • More Details:

Kroger Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator

Kroger's Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator is a game-changer for local and regional food producers. This program not only discovers innovative products across various categories but also provides selected suppliers with access to Kroger's extensive distribution network, enabling them to significantly increase their market presence.

  • Objective: Discovering and supporting local and regional food producers
  • Program Details: Seeks innovative products in categories such as produce, floral, deli, bakery, dairy, meat, and seafood
  • Benefits: Selected suppliers can dramatically increase their market presence by accessing Kroger's vast distribution network
  • Eligibility: Local and regional food producers with innovative products
  • Application Deadline: Watch website for 2024 application details
  • More Details:

Sephora Accelerate

Sephora Accelerate is more than just a business accelerator; it's a community of like-minded beauty brand founders who are passionate about sustainability and inclusivity. Through bootcamps, mentorship, and potential funding, this program empowers innovative brands to make a positive impact in the beauty industry.

  • Objective: Cultivating a community of innovative beauty brand founders focused on sustainability and inclusivity
  • Program Details: Provides support through bootcamps, mentorship, and potential funding
  • Benefits: Insights from industry leaders and the potential for featuring in Sephora's global retail network
  • Eligibility: Beauty brand founders prioritizing diversity and sustainability
  • Application Deadline: Sephora Accelerate 2025 will open in Fall of 2024
  • More Details:

Ulta MUSE Accelerator

Ulta Beauty's MUSE Accelerator is a beacon of hope for underrepresented founders in the beauty industry, particularly those of color. By providing in-depth training, tools, and expertise, this program helps diverse founders build strong brands and connects them with industry experts and potential retail opportunities at Ulta Beauty stores.

  • Objective: Uplifting underrepresented founders in beauty, focusing on founders of color
  • Program Details: Offers in-depth training, tools, and expertise to help build brands
  • Benefits: Opportunity to connect with industry experts and potentially place products in Ulta Beauty stores
  • Eligibility: Underrepresented founders in beauty, particularly founders of color
  • Application Deadline: The 2024 cohort will open in late spring/early summer of 2024
  • More Details:

Sprouts Forager Program

Sprouts is known for being a go-to retailer for launching innovative brands, and their Forager Program is designed to discover and nurture these emerging CPG companies. By partnering with young brands from product development to marketing and merchandising, Sprouts provides a unique opportunity for many of these products to be sold exclusively in their stores.

  • Objective: Identifying and supporting innovative, often first-to-market CPG brands
  • Program Details: Brands submit new and unique items for consideration, and selected products are featured on "New for You!" Innovation Centers for a 90-day trial period
  • Benefits: Exclusive placement in Sprouts stores, support from product development through marketing and merchandising, and potential for long-term shelf placement based on performance
  • Eligibility: Innovative CPG brands with unique, often first-to-market products
  • Application deadline: Rolling admissions
  • More Details:

Whole Foods LEAP Program

Whole Foods Market's LEAP Program is a perfect fit for small and emerging suppliers who are ready to take their organic or natural products to the next level. With guidance on navigating the complex grocery market and the potential to feature products in Whole Foods stores, this program is a launching pad for brands that align with Whole Foods' values.

  • Objective: Supporting small and emerging suppliers ready to scale
  • Program Details: Offers guidance on navigating the grocery market, focusing on organic and natural products
  • Benefits: Potential to feature products in Whole Foods stores
  • Eligibility: Small and emerging suppliers with organic or natural products, ready to scale
  • Application Deadline: 2024 applications closed but keep an eye out for March 2025
  • More Details:

Accelerate Success

Retail accelerator programs provide emerging CPG brands with invaluable support, resources, and opportunities for growth. By exploring specific offerings from major retailers, CPG founders and CFOs can make informed decisions about which accelerators best suit their needs. Participating in these programs can lead to increased visibility, expert guidance, and the chance to take their brands to the next level in the retail landscape.

At Lunr Capital, we are committed to supporting emerging CPG brands in their journey to success. If you are a founder or CFO of a growing CPG business, we invite you to reach out to us to learn how our financial solutions can complement these programs and help take your brand to the next level.