Most of us dream of being super healthy and fit.
More and more people dream of creating a health food or drinks brand in this dynamic market sector.
Navigating this market with its constantly shifting trends can be tricky. Here are some principles and practical tips for starting a new business; one that has the potential to grow healthily too.
Define your idea
Start by define your ‘what’ and most importantly identifying your ‘why’. As Simon Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” The ‘why’ is critical as it will form the foundation of your brand story and the passion that drives you.
My ‘what’ is simple – fresh juice. My ‘why’ is being healthy, fewer hours shopping, and less time in the kitchen putting together ingredients to make fresh juice for my family. INIU was born to avoid having to choose between convenience and healthy eating. I located and solved a problem on a small scale.
Expand your idea
The next important step that you can take with your idea was asking “why keep this idea small?” Ask where and when. How big can your idea get? Keep stretching it to find out where it breaks (hypothetically).
For example, I wanted to think globally because, as a father of four, I can’t help but think about the future. And I’m aware of the impact that the processed foods and livestock farming industries have on our health and the health of our planet. The possibility of impacting that is part of the legacy I’d love to leave for my children.
Future-proof your idea
Then ask are there new markets you can push into in the future?
For example, with INIU, we can potential expand with tasty, nutritious and sustainable snacking products. Don’t think big – think huge!
Once you have your what, why, where and when – ask yourself, “what would just one step before that huge idea look like? And one step before that?” And so on. With these answers you’ll have created your plan.
Finding a market
To figure this out you need to test your idea or product on as many different and diverse people as possible. So gather your friends. Get them to try the product and give you feedback. Listen to the feedback and learn from it. Analyse what they actually expect from your product or one like it. Adapt if necessary.
Even with a small test-group, if people are willing to buy your product, it suggests that you could have a market.
Investing in market research is an investment in the fine-tuning of your product and for example testing with larger focus groups. Everything you learn will contribute to your marketing plan
Learn from your competitors, locating pitfalls, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses. If you can get a hold of their annual reports, you can see their plans for the future and their past successes. If you can draw parallels while avoiding repetition, this research will be invaluable to moulding your business plan and possible future product development.
Making the product
Having validated your idea, you need to figure out how and where to produce it.
In our case, to get the recipes right we worked with several professional nutritionists. Experts can help you balance ingredient combinations so that they not only taste great but are also good for you. Even if you think you have the knowledge in-house, bringing external expertise into the process is a good idea; you don’t know what you don’t know!
Your brand identity
You’re not just launching another drink or food item, you are launching a new brand with its own identity. It’s important to start thinking about this early and to trademark it so that no copycats can steal the results of your hard work.
Part of creating your brand identity requires knowing what makes you different to (and hopefully better than) everything else out there. This differentiation will be vital for targeting your chosen consumers. Your brand, its story and potential are all part of what they’re buying into. The way to introduce this story and your brand’s personality to consumers is through marketing.
With limited resources you need an effective way to reach your target market. Work with influencers who truly believe in your product. Treat your loyal customers well and nurture that special relationship so they become brand ambassadors, sharing your message over social media. It’s true – there’s no better marketing than word of mouth. However, look at options for PR, social media, blogging, YouTube, paid advertising and exhibitions too. Although your budget dictates a lot of what you can and can’t do – it’s best to consider every option and to understand its benefits, challenges and costs. Then you can make sensible, helpful decisions.
Get stand-out packing
Your packaging is a consumer’s first impression of your product and plays a vital role in making your brand recognisable. It needs to stand out from your competitors. Go to a wide variety of shops; study your competitors again. How your design will fit within and stand out once on the shelf?
While initially you might be tempted to DIY your packaging, I would strongly advise against it. Get it done professionally; keep working with the designers until you’re happy that it has your voice, style and individuality.
There are practical considerations: how the packaging will handle when delivered by post; and how the product will interact with the packaging? You don’t want packaging that’s easily damaged or looks tatty quickly. And with a health product it’s likely that customers will expect both the product and the packing to be environmentally friendly.
The business of business
Work on your finances, particularly your pricing and cashflow. Understand all your costs and margins. You won’t expect profit immediately, but you need to plan your financials as if your survival depends on it, because it does.
To attract retailers you need a clear USP. Leveraging customer feedback and demonstrating demand will improve your chances of bagging a retail contract. Retailers need to be confident that it will sell – not just take up valuable shelf space.
The retailer route takes resources; time to negotiate these contracts and the facilities to meet their volume demand. There may be other channels, including direct to consumers, which will get your product out there.
Team and teamwork
If you try do it all on your own, it will not only take you longer, you’ll find every struggle will be tougher. You’ll very quickly find yourself second guessing every decision. The key to scaling up quickly is utilising the experience, knowledge and innovation of others.
Find highly skilled people, with an incredible work ethic, who are passionate about the brand. Look for people who are different from you, and have complementary skills.
As the great Pelé said: “No individual can win a game by himself.”
About the author
João Gouveiais the founder of INIU – a range of functional fruit and vegetable juices that are 100% natural, with no added sugar, preservatives or other additives. Cryogenically frozen, INIU juices retain up to 99% of their nutrients and taste; as good as if you’d made them yourself. Store the juice in your freezer and when you’re ready simply add water and blend. A fresh, 100% natural juice with all the best bits of nature in under a minute.
Launched in Portugal in 2017, INIU was nominated for the Innovation Award at the Food Entrepreneur Show 2018 in London and is now launching in the UK. INIU’s mission is to develop products built on the foundations of health and convenience.