To help you create your food or drink idea, I’ve put together this FAQ’s page which includes the topics about which I get asked most often. If you have any specific questions not answered here, feel free to ask.
Q. ‘What makes Brand Clock different to a food packaging design company?’
My work starts earlier in the process than is the case with a food packaging design company. I look at your product idea and every aspect of how best to bring your idea to market. This includes an in depth look at your product concept and market sector, developing your business plan and financials and identifying the best partners to help you. Our work together may progress to brand and packaging design but not until you have a minimum viable product, a route to market strategy and a robust commercial plan.
Q. ‘What is a minimum viable product?’
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of a product idea which satisfies all the criteria for further development. This includes identifying a real gap in the market, defining manufacturing feasibility, costs of product development, working capital requirements, customer reaction and routes to market.
Q. ‘How much does it cost to develop a food or drink product idea?’
There are a number of variables which impact on the cost of developing an idea through the minimum viable concept stage to full scale manufacturing. The more unique the idea, the more likely that costs will be higher but this isn’t always the case.
My initial phase of work with my clients includes a full product concept evaluation, following which guideline costs are determined, a full business plan created and working capital needs assessed.
Q. ‘I’d like to approach retailers but I don’t know how?’
Approaching retailers can seem daunting but like most things in life, with advance knowledge and proper planning, the task becomes not only easier but also more likely to succeed.
Start by identifying which retailer you feel is best suited to stocking your product. Visit a number of their stores and look at the fixture that’s relevant to you.
If possible, sneak a couple of photographs, paying attention to how much shelf space they’ve dedicated to your competitors: the brands, their colours, packaging formats, product volumes and prices.
Armed with this information, think about which of these products yours could replace and why a buyer would stock you. Don’t forget, retailers do not have elastic shelves so for every new product they list, they will take one out.
How can you become as attractive as possible? What colours and designs should you explore that will give you best impact from three feet away?
And most crucial of all, who are you targeting and why should they buy it?
- Check whether your product will attract VAT or is VAT exempt. This can make a big difference to your margin.
- How will stocking your product in place of others impact on the retailers sales?
- Is your product appropriately priced?
- Is your offer within the good, better or best price tiering?
- Are people likely to buy your product more often than others?
- Are you going for high turnover, low margin, or higher margin, lower turnover relative to other category products?
- Is your product higher priced and therefore providing a higher margin to the stockist?
- Do you know your costs inside out? Have you included logistics, distribution and of course your margin and retailer margin?
- As a quick rule of thumb, halve your proposed retail price to arrive at your selling price to the retailer.
- Will you attract new customers to the store?
- Is there potential to make your targeted retailer a destination store because of your product?
- How are you going to support your launch?
- What marketing activity will you undertake?
- What price promotion activity are you proposing?
- How does your proposed marketing activity compare to current sector products?
With this information in place, put together a compelling, brief presentation – PowerPoint is much better than Word for this. Use good quality images and include snippets of your brand strategy and background research.
Ideally limit your presentation to no more than ten slides and a maximum of 3.5 minutes reading time.
Then prepare your pitch – for email and telephone initially. Be compelling, use positive wording only, put yourself in the buyers shoes. How are you going to make their job easier and make their boss sing their praises by increasing their category revenue?
I mentor many clients to help them refine their pitch and to give them the confidence they need. And I frequently provide hands-on help with preparing pitches as well as attending them.
Q. ‘How long does it take to get a new food or drink product to launch?’
There are a number of variables which impact on the timeframe of developing an idea from a minimum viable concept through full scale manufacturing to launch.
I produce outline timings within my initial workshop and detailed stage by stage project timings follow once all stages of work are defined. Typically, projects can take from three months up to a year.
Q. ‘My food product is already on sale but I’m looking to scale up. What are the steps?’
One of the most exciting aspects of the food and drink sector is the huge variety of products on sale and the different stages of these brands in their life cycle.
Many start life in a home kitchen then move on to renting a commercial kitchen before looking for third party manufacturing or even setting up their own dedicated production facility.
Inevitably, the next step is likely to require investment to ensure adequate working capital to build stock in advance of sales. And to activate additional marketing to create consumer pull to match increased production volumes.
It’s important to understand what success looks like for you as this should shape how you approach the next stage.
You can bootstrap your idea, spending the absolute minimum or look to various opportunities to raise funds: bank loan, factoring, Innovate UK loan, Virgin Start Up loan and Kickstarter to name but a few.
But do consider that funding is the essential fuel to allow you to accelerate your business growth and reach your targets faster. If you starve it of funds then at best you’ll slow your growth and at worst you’ll stall and possibly fail.
Q. ‘I’m really excited about my food idea, but the food sector is new to me and I don’t know all the things I need to do or how to do them.’
Seeking expert help early in your business lifetime can accelerate your learning and understanding and ensure you avoid costly errors on the way. I support my clients every step of the journey with my expertise, discussing and agreeing on how to resolve each challenge as they arise.
Take a look at my article “I want to launch a new food idea but need expert help’ which describes all the various stages in detail.
Q. ‘I’m trying to understand all the things I need to include in my food labels, but I don’t know where to start.’
There are a myriad of regulations which govern the labelling of food, drink and health products. Many of these are product specific and relate to the presentation messaging of your brand concept.
In the UK, the Food Safety Agency governs the legislation set down by the EU and Trading Standards are responsible for enforcing the relevant regulations.
How much information you need to include on your packaging depends on whether your product is prepacked and designed for selling in retail or whether you are selling one to one from a market stall for example. It’s crucial of course that irrespective of where you are selling that any of the 14 major allergens are highlighted to consumers if they are present in your products.
Despite Brexit, we are still observing EU Food Law and there will be no change in governance until the start of 2021.
I have in-depth knowledge of food labelling legislation and can also advise best process and how to prepare information for Trading Standards feedback.
Q. ‘Demand for my food product is outstripping supply and I need a solution to increase volume fast.’
I help and advise clients on how best to scale-up their production volumes, and often this includes a temporary solution whilst a longer-term solution is put in place.
Of course it’s important to ensure that increasing volumes don’t impact negatively on margins beyond a level which is sustainable and I work with my clients to produce 5 year profit and loss and cashflow models to ensure that the impact of increasing volumes can be properly assessed.
Q. ‘I’ve got a fantastic idea for a super-healthy drink that everyone will love because it’s good for them.’
As I’ve mentioned, there are numerous regulations governing the labelling of food, drink and health products. Regulations in relation to any claim about improved health or good for health are particularly robust and care is needed to ensure that it is permissible to make such a claim in relation to your idea.
Any health claim made must be a permitted claim under European Food Safety Agency legislation and these often quote specific volumes or frequency of consumption in relation to a specific claim.
Fortified products can be particularly challenging as it must be demonstrated that the level of vitamins at the end of shelf life are equal to or in excess of the levels indicated within the labelling.
As many vitamins degrade over time, overage is a mechanism used to ensure that residual levels at end of shelf life match or exceed those quoted but in some instances this can add a significant cost to the ingredients.
I can advise on how to best approach this issue and guide you through permissible and appropriate claims for your product.
Q. ‘It’s been mentioned that I should research my food concept, is this a good idea?’
Research is a valuable tool but depending on the extent and complexity of the research objectives, costs can be considerable.
However, undertaking semi-informal research with local community groups or indeed friends and families can often give a steer around key considerations such as preferred taste, packaging formats, pricing and even possibly design ideas.
But do consider that results may not be entirely accurate as formal research requires a high number of respondents, particularly for question and answer style research undertaken online.
Trial sales are a very good way of gaining product feedback though, and they can also help in identifying most popular flavours and appropriate price points.
Q. ‘How much money is going to be needed to get my idea on sale?’
There isn’t a simple answer to this question as projects can be approached in a variety of different ways. For example, are you working full time on your project or all you still employed elsewhere? Does your idea need an unusual manufacturing solution which may involve capital equipment costs? Are you looking to launch slowly or to hit the ground running with good distribution at launch? Is your route to market online, via retail or both? What are the critical success factors to get your product on sale?
Q. ‘What is the most cost-effective way of promoting my brand?’
No one thing is going to provide the magic bullet in promoting your brand. But there are a number of approaches which are proven in their success which are very cost effective:
a) Send beautifully packaged products with a promo piece (and the items needed to consume it) to key journalists. So if you make muffins for example, send a pretty plate with the design chosen to complement your samples. Add a cake knife and a variety of tea bags. Most journalists find this irresistible and will very likely write a feature about you.
b) Get your friends and family to promote you via their social media network. This is a zero cost way of extending your reach and increasing your awareness via their connections.
c) Do samplings whenever and wherever you can. OK, you’ll have the cost of your products but this is a great way to engage consumers early on. If you are on sale, give them an info piece about where they can find you with your website details. Include a discount code off their next purchase. (N.B. A licence is required for sampling in public places so check with the local authority or property manager beforehand.)
d) Try to get your products into the hands of celebrities or sports personalities for a photo opportunity. In general sports personalities are an easier target. And they don’t have to be mega, just relevant and high profile in your launch area.
e) Location, location, location. If you can secure a region of London, your brand will fly. The intense population density of greater London means that brands can be successful by just focusing on this area. The important thing early on is to avoid scattergun activity and listings. You want would be consumers to see your product regularly so they can buy it often. So focus on outlets within a mile or so of each other and build from there. Extending your reach as you gain distribution. The other major urban conurbations are a good place to start too.
Take a look at Food Brand Strategist for some insights into how I help clients launch new food and drink products.
And take a look at BoomBod as an example of my work.