Just over two years since launching its line of high-fat, meat-based purees for babies first online and later in retail, Serenity Kids has climbed to seventh place in the baby food category in the natural channel and is “only a few thousand dollars [in sales] away from overtaking” sixth place, company co-founder Joe Carr told FoodNavigator-USA.
“And that is with only about 50% distribution” in stores in the channel, compared to more established players with broader distribution and consumer brand recognition, he added.
The company also claims to hold the fourth position in dollars per distribution, in part because its higher price point can generate a higher ring, acknowledged Carr. But, he added, the company also earned this spot because the brand has “garnered incredible loyalty” among consumers who are willing to go out of their way to stores to buy the product and when they find it they tend to buy in bulk.
Carr’s wife and co-founder Serenity Carr confirmed the brand’s consumer “loyalty was demonstrated right in front of my eyes” at a Whole Foods recently when another shopper reached around her to grab “the whole fleet” of Serenity Kids’ salmon baby food pouched puree with an explanation that it was her son’s favorite and sold out everywhere else.
“Not only that, but the five salmon pouches, which were the only ones that were left, were the only thing she bought,” Serenity Carr added.
Bold flavors expand appeal to toddlers
Serenity Carr said she and her husband hope to engender a similar level of loyalty in parents of older children with the launch of their new line of toddler pouched purees with bone broth, which launched online Oct. 1 and will be available exclusively at Whole Foods Market Oct. 15 before rolling out at additional retailers in January.
The new line includes a Turkey Bolognese that mimics the taste of marinara sauce with oregano, basil and tomato, a Beef Pot Roast that Serenity Carr says “tastes just like mashed potatoes and gravy” with an added hit of umami from mushrooms, and a Turmeric Chicken that builds on the flavors of carrot and celery in classic chicken soup with an additional “zing” of ginger and turmeric.
“All three of them are strong flavors that contribute to children’s development in the flavor window, which starts around four months and goes all the way to 18 months,” Serenity Carr said.
The bold flavor profiles are designed not only to expand young palates so children can enjoy more flavors when they are older, but also potentially improve their long-term health. Serenity Carr pointed to research that shows young children who are exposed to a wider range of flavors, including savory, tend to be less obese later in life.
Beyond the bold flavors, the toddler purees offer an additional gram of “easily digestible” protein compared to the baby food pouches and amino acids from the bone broth, Serenity Carr said. In addition, they include many of the same ingredients as the company’s original baby food line, including regenerative meat or wild caught or wild raised meat, poultry or seafood, organic vegetables and healthy fats.
Unlike the baby food pouches that are designed to be a meal, the new pouches for toddlers are positioned as a stand-alone snack that is more nutrient dense than many toddler snacks, such as puffs or fruit puree pouches, or act as a supplement to be paired with solid foods at mealtime.
In the latter case, Serenity Carr adds the toddler purees are particularly useful for children in a “picky eating phase” because they can be the main source of nutrients during meals when a child only wants to eat cashews, for example.
Tapping into the ancestral health movement
Much of the consumer loyalty Serenity Kids’ has earned in its short time on shelf has come from offering products unlike others on the market – so ones that are high in healthy fats, protein and nutrients, and low in sugar while still being convenient, according to the Carrs. But, they add, it also comes from their involvement with the close-knit ancestral wellness community, which may be niche, but also is willing to spend more on high quality foods, and share with others when they like products.
“The paleo and ancestral health movement, which I’ve been a part of for the last 10 years, is strongest online,” where it started and where early adapters were “really able to build a bond and learn from each other by sharing our online journey,” Serenity Carr said. She added that “a lot of people find us online still, and so that is why we have decided to keep up and leverage that community we are already a part of … to build our brand.”
Serenity Kids supports the community in part through its blog, which details nutritional research and advice, including an upcoming post about the benefits of bone broth – the star ingredient in its new line.
An omnichannel marketing approach
From there the company built a network of more than 900 moms, influencers, health practitioners and birthing experts who help spread the word about the brand by committing to share product and coupons with at least 10 other parents or caregivers in exchange for free samples and coupons, Joe Carr said.
Beyond this network of “mombassadors,” the company is teaming with a fleet of high profile and well respected influencers to support the launch of the new toddler purees and it will promote the products heavily in Whole Foods in October and again in January, he added.
Finally, the company is reaching out to online shoppers by offering rebates through Ibotta, advertising on Instacart and through some retailers’ online shopping apps, Joe Carr said.
[Editor's Note: If you are interested in children's nutrition, please join FoodNavigator-USA's virtual Food For Kids Summit discussion on the topic Nov. 18 at 12 CT. Find out all the details and register HERE.]