Currently rolling out in the US after a successful initial launch in the UK, Nom Noms World Food is tapping into the “magic of storytelling” to market its fresh and frozen meals that are “developed for convenience” and “inspired by health and exotic flavors,” company CEO and founder Lisa Sohanpal said at FoodNavigator-USA’s FOOD FOR KIDS Summit in Chicago earlier this month.
As one of three winners of FoodNavigator-USA’s Trailblazer competition, Sohanpal explained to attendees that the inspiration for the brand came from her and her husband’s desire to feed their children “healthy, nutritious food, but also have them grow up and have a diverse palate.”
She noted the best way she has found to encourage her kids to try new foods is to share with them where the dish comes from, including the culture and eating patterns of people in different countries.
The brand does this through its colorful packaging, which includes short stories and interesting facts about the region from where the dish hails as well as quizzes and games that help teach children about other cultures while they eat.
“We have also taken it a step further by including in the pack a passport where [children] can get a visa stamp every time they try a different flavor from around the world,” and when they fill their passports they can send them off for a Mini Nom Noms lunch box, Sohanpal said.
“What we found is when kids engage in the food they are eating, they are more likely to finish that meal and remember it and want more of it than in normal situations where we might feel as parents like, ‘Eat your food! Eat your food!’ just so we can get dinner over and done with,” she told FoodNavigator-USA. “Now, though, we can create a talking point and give parents the tools to talk about the” different foods.
The company also is working on bringing to life stories about the cultures where the foods originated through virtual and augmented reality, Sohanpal said.
For example, in one story with an Indian-inspired meal, a “little boy wearing a turban invites you to his family home for dinner,” where the viewer will see the family eating similar foods that they are eating and can learn about the dishes that are consumed every day in other countries, she explained.
The virtual reality stories will also engage viewers by giving them a choice about where to go and what to do. In the example with the Indian boy, viewers will pass by children begging for food on the street on the way to the boy’s house, and they can choose to learn more about their experiences as well, she explained.
Nom Noms’ wider mission to feed hungry children in school
While learning about food insecurity might seem like a difficult dinner conversation to some, for Sohanpal it is a pivotal component of Nom Noms World Food’s core identity and mission.
“The why behind what we do at Nom Noms is really this: For every meal purchased, we feed a hungry child in India. And to date, we have proudly served well over 400,000 meals already,” Sohanpal said.
She explained that the meals are provided midday at school to children, many of whom walk upwards of 20 kilometers a day to attend class in part because they know they are guaranteed a meal sponsored by Nom Noms.
“We want to inspired the next generation to not only eat healthy, good food for themselves, but also see the difference they are making to some of the kids,” who because of the free meals are staying in school longer and pursuing dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers and dancers, Sohanpal said.
Expanding in the US
The young brand currently is focused on expanding distribution in the US without over-extending itself too quickly, Sohanpal said.
“We found in the UK, every time we launched we kept selling out of stock and it was really hard to anticipate so much attention to the brand and so much attraction without having a model that can deliver on it,” she said. “So, we learned on a smaller market and when we roll it out in the US, we are only working with partners that can help us not only start but also scale and grow.”
By working with trusted partners that can manage supply chain and manufacturing, Sohanpal said she is free to focus on consumer engagement and building community around the brand that will help drive consistent velocity.
“We want to create a Nom-bassador community to come on this journey with us and so when we bring out a new flavor, we have a group of consumers that are already inspired by the brand and can give us honest feedback,” she explained. This way, she added, “our learning curve is reduced and we can get to market much more quicker.”