So, you’ve had that lightbulb moment. You’ve created a showstopping product that you can’t wait to get to market. But where do you start?
We know it can seem like there’s a mountain to climb before you get the opportunity to pitch your product. At DCP we work with exciting new food companies every day, to deliver an irresistible product to retailers, buyers and consumers alike. So, to support our fellow foodie pioneers, we put our strategic heads together and built a step by step guide to help your product reach its full potential.
Research, research, then some more research
It’s often said that we can be blinded by love. And when a product has been crafted by your own vision it can be hard to understand how people wouldn’t love it. But believe us… some won’t and there’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s a real danger to try to be everything to everybody, but it’s even more dangerous not to know who your target market is. When it comes to narrowing down your market you can never be too specific. A great example would be mid 20s university students looking for a healthy snack on the go but with very limited disposable income. This already gives an idea of the things that will be important for this consumer; convenience, health claims and cost.
It’s also important to assess your competition and their offering. Are there similar products on the market? If so what makes your product more desirable than the market leader? How will people be convinced to try your product over the competition? These are all questions that will need to have solid answers as not only will it help shape your brand communications, but it will be crucial to use when pitching to retailers.
The aim of the market research is to gain as much valuable, unbiased data about your product. This should help to identify improvements and exploit your sweet spots moving forward. Whether it be tweaks to the recipe, clearer claims, price point considerations, impacts on purchasing decisions, asking your key demographic for their feedback is priceless.
Determine Budget and Funding Opportunities
Once you have solid research behind you that suggests there’s a real gap in the market with sufficient demand for your product it’s time to start looking at the finances. There are some great government grants or local development funds available for exciting start-up businesses, so do your research to see if there’s some support you could tap into. However, with such elaborate costs involved in producing a new food product, it is more than likely you will be seeking external funding, whether through investors or banks.
There are the more practical manufacturing costs to consider such as raw materials, production, logistics, storage and distribution as well as the brand marketing that will require the help of an external agency or hiring a consultant to manage the process from concept through to delivery.
Developing a clear budget for all of the different costs involved in the start-up process is crucial. Do this before making any agreements with external companies so you can balance the costs throughout the different areas of the business. It would be catastrophic to spend all your budget on the highest quality manufacturing to then run out of money for marketing the product which ultimately drives the consumer to purchase.
Can you Scale Up Quickly?
Depending on how successful your product is, things could move very fast. It’s important to have a long-term plan in place to identify how you could meet increased demand could be met. Do you have the current facilities to manufacture the product or will you need to invest in bigger premises?
If you’re looking to employ a co-packer or contract manufacturer it’s crucial to check on their accreditations and for further peace of mind carry out your own audit to ensure they are producing food products to the highest possible standards.
Having a road map to how you’ll scale up from home kitchen to mass production can give you an idea of what resources you’ll need to invest in to support long-term growth.
Before you begin to think about at how your brand will look, it’s important to know where you want to sell it. ‘Place’ (distribution) should never be overlooked as an important aspect of your product marketing mix.
Take a look at where your competitors are selling and decide on whether to opt for similar sales outlets or take a completely new route to market. Take a look at where your competition is retailing online, maybe they have recently introduced home delivery or subscription-based ordering? By considering your key target retailers you can shape your brand communications and allocate marketing expenditure to the different channels.
If you’re looking to retail in Selfridges, Waitrose and Farm Stores then the brand will need to communicate high-end quality and a bespoke feel. But if you’re focused on the value end of the market, the brand must shout great value for money, with competitive pricing. This also helps to build your competitor intelligence. Do a sweep of the shelves in the stores you want to be in to see what you’re up against. This will help to identify design cues, price points and packaging formats as well as whether you think your product will stand up to the fierce competition.
We may be a little biased here, but we believe that branding can make or break a product. Your brand is not just the company logo. It is emotional, it can differentiate and evoke lifelong loyalty. It can permeate all levels of business and drive tangible measurable results.
The best place to start is to think about all your USPs, the things that make your product different from anything on the market. Think about why you started the company, what were your drivers and motivations for bringing this product to market? Then, budget dependent, look to hire a branding consultant or creative agency that can take everything you want to say and package this into a tangible brand.
It’s always good to think about your own story. The very best brands tell great stories. Stories can capture the imagination. They can speak directly to the consumer from behind a screen, on the go, or at that crucial purchase point in stores. They should always answer the question, why should I buy your product?
Research suggests that almost a third of product purchasing decisions are based on packaging with 66% of consumers claiming they have tried a new product simply because of the packaging. So yes, it’s kind of a big deal.
Use all the research gathered on your market and target consumer when creating your packaging design. What is important to them? Do they require specific features? How much do you want to spend on packaging materials? What will consumers do with the packaging at end of use? Sustainability is a growing concern amongst consumers, with food packaging being in the spotlight recently for excessive, polluting and non-recyclable packaging. So, if you’re consumers are eco-conscious it will be important to focus on sustainable materials. If you are in the health food market we’d definitely recommend checking out our top tips for health food branding that can help shape your packaging design.
Food Labelling Regulations
Meeting food safety standards by creating honest and clear labelling is crucial before taking your product to market. Your brand will need to show certain information, list ingredients and disclose allergen warnings, all of which may differ depending on which markets you serve.
Incorrect labelling can leave customers with severe health issues and in some extreme cases may even cause death. So, disclosing full ingredients, highlighting allergens and including other important information on your food packaging is paramount. As today’s consumer demands complete brand transparency and traceability, accurate and visible labelling grows ever more important for your packaging.
So, you’ve built your brand, aced your identity and created beautiful packaging all to wow your customers. But how will you let them know about it?
Identifying how best to spend your marketing budget is crucial. There are a million ways in which you can market your food product in today’s digital world, with social media, online advertising, editorials, sponsored content and influencers all ready to splash your cash. This is where food brands need to think strategically and focus on the marketing methods that will deliver the best return on investment.
Not all marketing activities need to be costly too. One of the best ways to create a buzz about your product is to get all of the above right and let word of mouth take the reins. Arguably there can be nothing more powerful than a friend’s recommendation for a great new product. This is something that market disrupters can truly capitalise on, as established brands play catch up spending millions to try and recreate genuine, authentic stories.
One of the biggest questions asked by our clients is how do I make my brand work across borders? If you’re planning long-term success, exporting will be high on the agenda.
There are countless traditional, cultural and behavioural differences to consider before your food product is ready for international markets. And anyone who has worked in translations understands the complexity of languages and cultures, with a plethora of multiple meanings for words and phrases. Without researching local knowledge, your product could unintentionally offend or mislead the consumer.
The importance of local market knowledge is crucial to the acceptance of your brand in international markets. Successful export brands adopt a “Glocal” approach to think globally and act locally, making changes to their ingredients, marketing, distribution channels, pack formats and price point accordingly.
Traditionally the product marketing mix consisted of product, place, price and promotion. Many marketers have added some more P’s along the way but one of the most underestimated components will always be ‘place’.
Planning where your product will be sold is crucial to its success, so look at maximising your distribution channels. These may differ depending on the type of product and packaging format. Maybe your product is a single serve size, perfect for on the go consumption, in which case, convenience stores and travel outlets such as train stations and airports would be perfect for you to capture the travelling consumer.
Online grocery sales are continuing to outpace physical store sales, so consider how best to sell your product online, whether through your own online store or selling to a retailer who can use their own established distribution channel.
Before investing in any new eCommerce system, make sure your supply chain can support this whether it be your own pick and pack system or appointing a logistics company to manage the flow of orders.