A recipe for suc­cess: how to start a health food brand

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Small Business Connect - By Ha­jra Rahim

WHEN launch­ing a health food brand, while it’s tempt­ing to shout about what makes you dif­fer­ent, fo­cus­ing on a diet or health term can ac­tu­ally be a bur­den, says Suzie Walker, of snack brand The Pri­mal Pantry.

“Many health food prod­ucts come to mar­ket tar­geted at a niche au­di­ence, but that can limit you,” she ex­plains, giv­ing the ex­am­ple of launch­ing a bar with “pa­leo” on the pack­ag­ing.

She later found through con­sumer tests that it con­fused peo­ple. “Some thought that it was an in­gre­di­ent or that it con­tained meat,” she says, adding that it be­came a some­what neg­a­tive term. “Peo­ple fol­low­ing a pa­leo diet would have found us quickly, but oth­ers were less likely to.”

The com­pany re­cently re­moved the word from its pack­ag­ing, which Ms Walker thinks will open it up to a wider au­di­ence.

“You want to avoid putting ‘fad’ words in your brand­ing, so that you’re not lim­it­ing your­self to one as­pect of the mar­ket – you give your­self room to ex­pand the prod­uct range,” she says.

Re­search your in­gre­di­ents

Oliver Dickinson, founder of health drink com­pany WOW, says that it’s best to find a happy medium be­tween de­liv­er­ing a qual­ity prod­uct and an ex­pected price point.

“We spent a lot of time sourc­ing our chia seeds – and the dif­fer­ence in terms of qual­ity and price was enor­mous,” he ex­plains.

Make ev­ery penny count

Once you’ve got your prod­uct and pack­ag­ing sorted, the next chal­lenge is get­ting it in shops, says Mr Dickinson.

“Buy­ers will only work with you if you can demon­strate that your prod­uct has a proven rate of sale,” he ex­plains. “They want to know that you won’t sud­denly close.”

Do this by start­ing small and fo­cus­ing on get­ting it right. Smaller shops know their cus­tomers bet­ter (so can give good prod­uct feed­back) and are more open to sug­ges­tions on things such as win­dow dis­plays.

They also have faster turn­around times. “They can place an or­der the same day that they see you and have stock on the shelf within 24 hours,” he says. “The big su­per­mar­kets only up­date their range once a year.”

Al­ways ne­go­ti­ate, he says: “We once ne­go­ti­ated a sav­ing of 4p per bot­tle.”

Com­mu­ni­cate through pack­ag­ing

With health food shelves ex­tremely crowded, it’s key to com­mu­ni­cate with the cus­tomer at the shelf, says Tom Oliver, of Tom Oliver Nu­tri­tion.

“Our Omega 3 sup­ple­ment is in a black box, which is unique for its cat­e­gory,” he ex­plains. “Its USPs are clearly high­lighted in yel­low cir­cles, with the health ben­e­fits also listed.”

Aim for con­sumers to be able to clearly see what your prod­uct is, what it does and how to use it at first glance, he says. “There are strict con­trols for health claims on pack­ag­ing, so ref­er­ence must be given to the Euro­pean Food Safety Au­thor­ity and its ap­proved claims for in­gre­di­ents.”

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