5 essential factors to help boost your chances of succeeding in a thriving industry
By: Victoria Walling
The healthy food and beverage industry has experienced significant growth over the past few years, and while there are many entrepreneurs looking to enter this space, there are several challenges that brands face today. In the past few articles, we’ve talked about why focusing on just being healthy is not enough and how to leverage on the hierarchy of product differentiation to help brands gain more clarity, set themselves apart from the rest, and eventually succeed in the cutthroat industry.
Before even jumping into the whole purchasing process, operations building, and crafting your brand, you will need to identify your niche. This is crucial to your success so you can help differentiate yourself from competitors and appeal to a specific target audience. The industry is vast, and there are many different areas that entrepreneurs like you can focus on, from plant-based products, animal-free dairy, organic to functional foods. It’s equally important to have that driving passion for what you do, to be able to understand your ideal customers, and to ensure that you will address and fulfill a need.
However, it will take a lot of work to overcome hurdles in the healthy F& industry and there are several steps that business owners can take to ensure their venture's success.
#1: Conduct Market Research, Product Testing, and Continuous Innovation
It is essential to conduct market research as it helps you understand the current trends and demand in the market and identify gaps that you can fill. Doing both market research and product market fit testing ensure the viability of your product once it launches in the market.
The results of your market research will help you make informed decisions about your upcoming products, branding strategy, and marketing efforts. This can be conducted through methods such as surveys, focus group discussions, and online research.
Amy Keller of Climate Candy in her podcast episode in Brand Start Goes Healthy shared that her biggest lesson in her entrepreneurial journey is making sure to do research first and testing three main components – market, product, and messaging. Some questions to consider:
Are you serving an existing market or are they considered early-adopters?
How healthy is your product? What are its best ingredients that will answer a need?
How do you effectively convey what your product is? What messages do you put out?
In any entrepreneurial journey, continuous innovation and improvement are needed to succeed and keep up with the times. The healthy food and beverage industry is constantly evolving, and consumers are always looking for new and exciting products that meet their needs and preferences. It is then crucial to continuously experiment with new ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques to create new and innovative products.
Don’t forget to also collect feedback from your customers because by listening to them and staying updated with the latest trends and technologies, you can continuously improve your business to stay ahead of the competition.
#2: Develop Your Brand and Strong Online Presence
A strong brand is required in the healthy Food & Beverage industry where competition is fierce. Regardless what industry you’re in, developing a strong brand and remaining true to your brand identity is crucial for visibility and tribe building. Your brand should communicate your unique selling proposition, values, and promise to your intended target audience. Your brand messages should also be consistent across all your marketing materials, including your website, social media, product packaging, and advertising efforts.
Your brand identity, promise, and voice should also reflect your target audience's values and lifestyle. For example, if your target audience is health-conscious millennials, your brand should emphasize transparency, sustainability, and ethical sourcing. If your target audience are busy professionals, your brand should emphasize convenience and efficiency.
Pricklee Cactus Water, a one-of-its-kind product brings a cool and differentiated brand to the market for people to feel healthier, happier, and live a more sustainable life. Co-Founder Kun Yang stressed in his interview in our Brand Start Goes Healthy podcast how his team had to re-visit their branding efforts after 2.5 years in the market. For him, undergoing a brand refresh was an exercise focused in refining their brand direction with the goal of gaining competitive advantage and improved market relevance.
They re-discovered who they were as a product and redesigned their visual identity, condensing and simplifying their messaging in their packaging to just two seconds. Don’t forget, you only have about 2-5 seconds to capture the attention of potential customers, so your goal is to champion your brand messages starting with your product packaging.
Once you’ve pinned down your brand, it’s also important to evaluate the touchpoints where consumers can find you. Having a strong online presence is essential to success so a well-designed website and active social media accounts can help you reach a wider audience, build brand awareness, and engage with your customers. This means that even before consumers get to retail stores, they can find you online and read more about you to make informed decisions when they purchase.
#3 Focus on Quality and Taste
Quality and taste are essential factors that determine your success in the healthy F&B industry. Consumers are increasingly health-conscious, but they still want products that taste good and satisfy their cravings. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on the quality of your ingredients and the taste of your products.
Using high-quality, fresh, and seasonal ingredients will ensure that your products are as flavorful and nutritious as possible. Texture is also something that many consider when they purchase healthy food items. If you’re in the alt meat space, for example, does your product feel the same as traditional beef jerky, chicken nuggets, sausages, burgers? You can also experiment with different cooking techniques and flavor profiles to create unique and delicious products.
Flavor and texture can help differentiate healthy food products from their less healthy counterparts. By making healthy food that taste good and have an appealing texture, you can create a unique selling point for your brand. This can help attract customers who are looking for healthier options but do not want to compromise on taste.
#4 Emphasize Transparency and Prioritize Sustainability
Transparency is becoming increasingly important in the healthy Food & Beverage industry, as consumers are becoming more concerned about where their food comes from and how it is made. Therefore, it is advisable to be transparent about your ingredients, sourcing, and manufacturing processes.
One way to emphasize transparency is to use clear and concise labeling on your products. This should include information about your ingredients, nutritional value, and any allergens. Another method to further be transparent and build trust is to include more detailed information about your sourcing and manufacturing processes on your website, social media, or even as a QR code in your product label.
Sustainability has likewise become increasingly relevant to consumers, and healthy food and beverage brands should prioritize being sustainable in day-to-day operations. When you talk about sustainability, it could include sourcing ingredients from sustainable sources, reducing waste, and using eco-friendly packaging.
Businesses that prioritize sustainability can attract environmentally conscious consumers and further improve their reputation and increase market share.
#5 Collaborate with Industry Partners
Partnering with other businesses and organizations can help you expand your reach, build credibility, and create new opportunities for growth. Tying up with the right suppliers can ensure that you have access to high quality ingredients, while connecting with trusted distributors can help increase reach and access to new markets. You can likewise work with health and wellness organizations to participate in events and sponsorships.
Genius Juice Founder and CEO Alex Bayer shared in a LinkedIn post that when partnering with retailers, ensure they also offer high margins for you so that you can expect ROI within 12 months.
Thriving in a cutthroat industry as the healthy food and beverage sector is a challenge for any business. Knowing these crucial factors that can help affect the way you do business will help you achieve your goals much more strategically.
Remember that it’s never a one-size-fits all solution to building a brand, creating a winning product, and acing the selling game. It’s all a compound of many factors that have to be considered so you win the hearts of your target audience and build loyalty for your healthy product.