Investing in the Future of Food: Maximize memorability before distribution for long-term growth

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Investing in the Future of Food Marketing startups Entrepreneurship

Extensive distribution and strong memorability are two main drivers for CPG growth – unfortunately for most startups the first is often out of their financial reach, at least at first, forcing to them to go all in on the second.

Luckily this is a safe bet for most entrepreneurs, according to the founder of Premium Growth Solutions James Richardson, who explains in this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Investing in the Future of Food how startups can effectively maximize memorability.

“There are basically two levers of growth in consumer packaged goods: One is distribution, whether that is online or in brick-and-mortar, and there is memorability,”​ he said. “The problem for founders, who I work with, is that you just don’t have the resources of General Mills or Pepsi [which] when they decide that product number 2,433 is there next $100 million idea they are able to marshal together resources that you can only dream of to get it out there instantaneous into mass distribution.”

But that doesn’t mean the startups or founders are out of luck. Rather, Richardson argued that the second lever for growth – memorability – is much more effective at winning in the long-term because it engages consumers and creates a sense of loyalty.

“Memorability is about the symbolism, but also the sensory experience of your innovation – and those are things that good entrepreneur has just as much right to win and just as much ability to pull off as General Mills or Pepsi. Some would sit here and argue that they are more likely to pull off a more memorable experience, and I would agree with them,”​ he said.

In Richardson’s upcoming book, Ramping Your Brand: How to ride the killer CPG growth curve​, he lays out how entrepreneurs can create “tons of memorability”​ by selecting the right symbolic signals to weave into the product, package design, shelf placement – all of which will vary based on the product, the category and the target market. 

While customization is key, he acknowledges there are some universal strategies for building memorability – including creating a geo-targeted digital awareness campaign.

“Some of the best geo-targeted local launches I have seen and studied are in entrepreneurial brands,”​ which succeed by creating a “local vibe”​ that “works a lot better for the consumer [because] it is more relevant to them,”​ he said.

That is why, he said, he generally advises startups to focus on their local community and region before expanding nationally. If they create a strong foundation around their home base, those loyal fans will cheer on their local brand – giving it an authentic endorsement that is much more effective than a flashy logo sitting on a store shelf as illustrated by strong velocity and repeat purchases.

Richardson acknowledged that the cost of this strategy per consumer is much higher than large brand’s strategy to blitz everyone at once, but it also is more effective. In addition, he noted, it comes in “tiny snack size bites, which fit into your founder budget.”

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