Launching a Food Brand? Here’s What You Need to Do

by | Jun 22, 2022 | food retail

A business owner launching a food brand.

Launching a food brand is no easy task. After all, over 50% of startup brands fail within five years. If you want to launch a food brand specifically, it’s critical to understand your audience and market to perform the necessary reconnaissance to propel your food brand into the green long-term. 

Key Takeaways

  • Defining a food philosophy is key to building a brand identity
  • To win consumers over, you need to understand their preferences and attitudes
  • It is essential to leverage social media when launching a food brand 

Focus on Food Philosophy 

Your food philosophy is your brand’s point of view on food from a social, wellness, ethical, and environmental standpoint. It will serve as a core tenant of your brand identity. Brand identity is all about providing a point of view to influence consumer perception. A core ingredient in launching a food brand is communicating how your brand thinks about food. 

Your food philosophy may influence how you market or define your target audience. It may affect how you source your ingredients or which retailers you partner with, and how your brand communicates that philosophy will determine how consumers view your business. 

Determine Your Business Type 

Before your food brand launches, you’ll need to determine what type of business your brand will be. There are two types of companies to choose from, growth businesses and lifestyle businesses. 

Growth Business

Growth businesses are focused on scalability. These types of businesses attract angel investors and equity firms because they focus on boosting the value of the business as quickly as possible and, in many cases, selling the business for profit. Growth businesses usually depend on technology and may be vertically integrated with adjacent businesses. 

Lifestyle Business

Lifestyle businesses are focused on maintaining the lifestyle of an entrepreneur. Financially, these businesses depend on debt from banks to get started. These businesses are equally focused on profitability, albeit at a more incremental pace. Recent trends show that entrepreneurs are leaning more towards lifestyle businesses as business sizes across the nation shrink

Build a Business Plan  

Building a business plan will clarify each necessary step you’ll need to launch your food brand and in which order to take the steps. A business plan demands that you answer fundamental questions about your product to help you determine your brand’s success to failure ratio. 

Nail Your Niche

You must gather a thorough understanding of your potential customer base and identify what problem your food brand is solving within the market. Doing so is critical to the success of your business, as 42% of companies fail due to not fulfilling a need in the market. 

Statistics showing reasons for startup enterprise failure

Image Courtesy of Finances Online

To launch a food brand that will win consumers over, you need to understand their preferences, attitudes, and needs. Additionally, this research will help you identify who your competitors are and how you can differentiate your food brand from others. There are several strategies to nail your niche:

  • Utilizing surveys to identify the characteristics of your niche 
  • Follow food trends to analyze the market changes
  • Study online communities to see what people are saying about the market and your competitors 

Perform Market Reconnaissance 

Market reconnaissance requires you to collect relevant information regarding your market and your competitors to determine your product’s market size, category specifications, and cross-over potential. You’ll also need to study those competitors you identified in the step above. You can explore supermarkets, online retailers, blogs, and the international market and connect with people in your food brand industry to gather more intel. 

Dive into the Details 

There is a bevy of details to consider when launching a food brand.  You should consider your unit economics to determine if your product will be profitable or not. Unit economics are the direct costs of producing your final product from inception to implementation. You’ll need to consider all costs associated with sourcing ingredients, production, packaging and labeling, logistics, storage, distribution, slotting fees, and marketing. 

Costs are not the only metrics for consideration. It is equally as important to consider the practicality of how you will handle each step of the process of launching a food brand. Below are some questions that you may want to ask:

  • What are the challenges of securing my supply chain?
  • Where will I source my product ingredients from? 
  • What pricing is appropriate for my product? 
  • What are the standards of my co-packer? 
  • Can my product survive at its Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) based on the Costs of Goods Sold (COGS) it takes to manufacture it? 

Put Your Idea to the Test  

Developing a food brand from concept to retail product may prove unwise without testing it within the market first. You can test your product with consumers without the overhead costs of mass production by gathering samples. You can enter trade shows and food festivals, sell to independent retailers or organize giveaways to gauge how consumers interact with your product. 

Have a questionnaire prepared to determine how your target audience rates your product on taste, price, packaging, and brand message. During the testing phase, you have the prime opportunity to communicate your brand’s food philosophy and brand identity. You’ll need to record all this information for future reference to inform strategies down the line, such as reward incentives or shifting price points to attract new customers. 

Leverage Social Media 

Launching a new food brand requires a strong social media presence to display your new food or drink products. You can upload photos and videos to create a visual presence with your online audience.  You can even directly involve your audience to participate in brand decisions. For example, you could release a poll that would allow them to vote on different flavors or packaging. 

The more social media channels your food brand is active on, the more potential customers and feedback you can attract. Your website will serve as the bedrock of your marketing campaign, and you can utilize social media to drive traffic to your website to communicate your brand’s story in full. Additionally, you can include a call to action, encouraging consumers to contact you or directing them to where your products are sold. 

Statistics of selling on social media platforms

Image Courtesy of Sprout Social

Raise Additional Funding 

Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to vet your audience, market, expenses, and product responses, you can turn your attention toward financing. You can ratify your business plan and pitch deck to secure new investors based on product responses. 

You can employ several strategies to obtain the funding required to launch your food brand to the next level.

  • Secure a grant or loan by speaking to local authorities seeking to fund new businesses. 
  • Create a partnership by ‘white labeling’ your product. 
  • Launch a crowdfunding campaign in exchange for small equity stakes in your business. You could also reward investors in other ways, such as discounts and loyalty promotions.  

Get Your Product Retail Ready

This vital step includes quality assurance and perfecting product recipes and descriptions. You’ll want to ensure that your food brand meets any food safety requirements, certifications, and mandates from a legal standpoint. 

You may want to consult with food scientists about any nutritional claims associated with your product. Remember, even after your product hits the shelves, you’ll want to continually monitor the consumer’s feedback to refine your food brand and lower costs. 

Launching Your Food Brand with Ease Thanks to SIAL America

SIAL America brings together food industry professionals of all experience levels that can prove invaluable to your process. 

Learn more about why you should attend SIAL America 2023 and how you can increase your chances of success by networking with food branding professionals worldwide.