Launching a new product into the food and drink category

I’ve had a number of requests recently for a list of all the key points to consider when launching a new product into the food and drink category so here they are:


  • Research your idea thoroughly.
  • Be clear about what need your product meets.
  • Understand and identify your proposition and positioning – particularly in relation to price.
  • Identify your audience and get to know them forensically – the same applies to your competitors.
  • Undertake store visits and produce comprehensive market maps. Pay careful attention to sub-category pricing and
    competitor intensity.
  • Tick ‘all the right boxes’ to optimise your idea by completing all the above – don’t compromise.

  • Make your product as good as it can be – and then go again – make it better still.
  • Taste, appearance, texture, aroma is everything – repeat purchasing relies on the product ‘hitting the spot’.
  • Don’t accept mediocre because your customers won’t.
  • Ensure you have a ‘minimum viable product’ before you go any further.
  • Consider your manufacturing opportunities – kitchen at home, rental kitchen, small scale outsource, large scale outsource.
  • Identify your structural packaging solution and MOQ’s before moving on to the next stage.

    Close up of line of drink fridges in retail store.


  • Seek expert help to create your brand strategy and to guide you through the technical and legal aspects of taking a product to market.
  • Work hard on creating compelling and succinct on-pack messaging – every single word counts. Be clear about your USP’s and how best to communicate them. Less is more.
  • Invest in excellent brand and packaging design undertaken by companies with a proven track record in food and drink packaging.
  • Prepare trial products and packaging for sampling and research.

  • Know your costs and margins. The pennies really do count.
  • Build a robust financial model (minimum two years projections, ideally five) with a realistic assessment of the funds required to take your product to market, provide marketing support and to provide all important working capital. Identify your working capital needs.

  • Retailers do not have infinite shelf space.
  • Understand what your target retailers are looking for and understand why they may stock you – which products will you replace and why?
  • Know their expected margins and brand support expectations.
  • Prepare a detailed marketing plan including price promotion activity.
  • If relying on web-based sales, you still need a marketing plan to create awareness and drive sales.

  • Be able to demonstrate proof of consumer demand to potential stockists through local sales/online and early marketing activity.
  • Build your social media following.
  • Attract as many ‘vocal and visible’, brand ambassadors as you can during this early phase.
  • Create an intense local, distribution hot spot to achieve high visibility and maximise repeat purchase opportunities – resist scattergun listings.
  • Out-think rather than out-spend your competitors – smarter marketing.
  1. BUILD

  • Grow your points of distribution and rate of sale.
  • Increase your brand noise and visibility.
  • Push hard early on with marketing activity or you may stall.
  • Re-invest early revenue gains to ‘bridge the chasm’ and grow your audience into the mainstream.

Last Updated on 17/03/2023 by Eddie Stableford

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