If you want to get a sense of the hot new trends in food, go to a trade show and count the number of young brands offering broadly similar products.
At the Speciality and Fine Food Fair in London recently, it was pretty evident that tea, nut butter, coconut (in various oils, creams and milks), popcorn-type snacks and anything that is free from gluten, sugar, dairy (and preferably raw) is hot right now. You can tell which are the bigger trends, simply by counting the sheer number of new brands offering the same product. (In case you’re wondering, tea won with a mere 16 different brands in the Small Producer section at the show).
But this got me thinking…with the same product idea being offered by so many different brands, surely they can’t all succeed?
So, what key elements are needed for a brand to not only be born, but actually flourish?
1. Relentless Consumer Focus
First and foremost, you need a good idea.
For it to be ‘good’ it needs to meet a real consumer need and ideally bring something new to the market. Simply deciding to make fudge because you like making fudge is generally not the strongest path to building a successful brand. To be truly successful you need to introduce something more than just a ‘me too’ product.
After all, if the consumer need for fudge is already met, then you’re fighting an uphill battle to get your fudge known and desired by consumers. It can be done by making your brand distinctive, but it’s generally sensible to offer something that has an actual degree of difference in the product.
Remember though, that the difference doesn’t need to be massive…
As an example, Troo has identified a need for granola that you bake at home rather than being pre-baked, so it’s fresher and fills your home with aroma. It’s a fairly simple difference, but one that attracts consumers seeking a different experience at breakfast and therefore allows the product to not only stand out, but also add incremental value to the retailer.
2. Build Appeal Through Branding
Branding is a really important part of making your offering distinctive. Now, I wouldn’t recommend having your brand as the only element which makes you different to your competitors – that’s why identifying a product benefit, no matter how small, is important. However, in a noisy market, clear and distinct branding that is designed to appeal to your chosen consumer emotionally, and communicated consistently through all elements, is a critical success factor in building a winning brand.
Innocent is a great example of a brand that has a consistent tone that appeals to its consumers. The chatty packs, ‘homemade’ adverts and promotions like the Big Knit all deliver a consistent tone of down-to-earth innocent fun.
A lot of the new brands I see have a product that meets a clear consumer need or current trend. And they’ve clearly spent time developing their brand; from the story of how it all came about to their packaging and messaging, ensuring consumer appeal. So, what is the magic ingredient that sees some brands succeed when others, who are equally on-trend and have clear appeal, fail over time?
When I was just starting out in marketing someone told me that marketing and building brands is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.
You can have the best idea, great branding and a superb team with you. All of these will get you a long way, but ultimately the one who wins the race is the one that keeps going – persisting when others have given up.
Continually pushing for new listings and more distribution. Relentlessly refining their product, brand and business in order to stay ahead of the pack.
After all, as everything continues to evolve, if you’re not growing, you’re declining and that’s just not sustainable!
What are my top tips for ensuring you continue to persevere?
1. Love what you do – Then it’s not really work and you’re likely to do more of it than others who are less ‘in love’ than you.
2. Resist the urge to compromise. Especially when things get difficult. Listen to your gut and do the right thing even if it’s hard work.
3. Breed ‘positive dissatisfaction’ within yourself and your business. Dissatisfaction in this context is very positive as constant small improvements accumulate over time and will help you leave the competition for dust.
Sorry if you were expecting easy to implement, magic ingredients…building a brand is hard work.
But, in my experience, the reward is definitely worth it!