Investing in the Future of Food: Biena CEO shares tips for launching a product that is new to the category vs new to the world

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Investing in the Future of Food Snacks Expo west

Developing and launching a new product is never easy, but according to the CEO of the chickpea snack company Biena, the specific challenges entrepreneurs will face across sales, marketing and operations will vary significantly based on whether they are bringing to market something that is “new to the world” or simply new the category.

In this episode of Investing in the Future of Food, Poorvi Patodia shares lessons she learned while navigating each of these paths when she first launched her flagship roasted chickpea snacks and more recently when she introduced a new line of chickpea-based puffs.

“I have developed a framework that I am calling new to the world vs. new to the set and it is a framework that summarizes these years of learning around what it takes to win, or what your job is when you are pioneering a category vs playing in an established category,”​ she explained to FoodNavigator-USA.

New to the world

“On one side of the framework you have new to the world, which is when you are creating something totally new that doesn’t exist in the market you are operating in and it outlines your challenges when you are pioneering the category across sales, marketing and operations,”​ she said.

For example, she noted, when a product is new to the world, sales and marketing efforts will focus first on identifying where in a store retailers should stock the item and helping consumers understand what the product is and how to use it, she said.

When Patodia was helping to create the roasted chickpea snack segment she had to make clear that the product functioned like nuts, but was allergy-friendly. She also had to navigate how to market a snack that could be both savory and sweet.

“In operations, when you are new to the world, people may not know how to make your products. If you are working with a contract manufacturing partner, you are going to be teaching them how to fundamentally create this food or beverage,”​ she said.

In the case of Biena’s roasted chickpeas, this meant Patodia needed to call nut and coffee roasters to brainstorm ways to make her chickpeas crunchy but still soft enough to eat without rehydrating.

New to the set

When it comes to marketing a product that is new to the set – such as Biena’s chickpea-based better-for-you puffs – “all three of those challenges are polar opposite,”​ Patodia said.

“If you are playing in an established category … in sales there is already a very clear idea of where you belong in the store and so the sales challenge is and the marketing challenge is not really about explaining to people what this new thing is and educating, it is really more about … differentiation,”​ she said.

For her chickpea puffs, she had to explain to buyers how the snack had a better nutritional profile than classic puffs, but that they still delivered on the combination of crunch and melt-in-your mouth experience that consumers wanted from the category.

“In operations, you may not be the expert on how to create those products in terms of fundamentally creating it and making it. … Because you are playing in an established category, that is well known, if you are working with a contract manufacturing partner, they can probably tell you how to create this product,”​ she said.

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1 comment

Positioning is so key

Posted by kristi bridges,

Such a great article on how to think about bringing a new brand to market. Also great reminder of how important getting your positioning right from the start is.

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