This article is contributed by Megha Rawal, Founder of Mezmo Candy.
The present-day food industry is the result of food startups and companies which popped up in the '90s. Quite a few multinational companies started around the same time which is now a famous brand and go-to option for people of all age groups alike across the globe. What is it that made them famous? What is it that we as a better technologically equipped generation are not able to understand? What was the success mantra which is still working for them?
There’s one answer to all these questions. What separated the MNCs from the startups is that they provided cost-efficient solutions and constantly evolved/improvised their products with the changing needs and mindset of the 21st-century consumer. This is exactly what made them a popular household name and helped them flourish in domestic and international markets. Venturing into a food industry is always a good idea because this business will never be saturated. We all love food and we need to eat to survive.
What you are offering to your customers is what makes the difference for your brand. If you are providing a specific food item, you will be catering to a niche audience, if you have general food products, your quality, quantity, and price factor come into the picture to decide the success graph. Generally speaking, niche products are less price-sensitive than general mass-market products.
You need a passion for food and hospitality when you decide to venture into this sector. Along with this, marketing is the tool you have to exfoliate to your advantage. There are numerous things that set you apart from your competitors, how well you leverage them for your benefit is what decides the success or failure of your brand.
Speaking about the same, Megha Rawal, founder of Mezmo Candy says, “First and foremost, make a business plan. Weighing out the pros and cons of entering a new business is the vital step. Give ample thought to your customer value proposition (CVP). What are the profit areas and what can be risky, what will connect with the audience, and what will face hesitant acceptance, how much time will the licensing and paperwork take, literally everything has to go in the plan along with a strong backup plan. Having another plan is smart work as you are ready with options if the first one doesn’t work out. Calculate the timeframe for the return on your investment and proceed accordingly".
Market research is very important, especially if your product is niche. For B2C products, conduct a survey over a minimum of 150 people belonging to mixed groups. Depending on the result of the survey your CVP may need modifications.
Begin trials of your product, rope in open-minded chefs and food technologists who are willing to experiment and give life to your product. Tasting sessions can commence with your friends, family, and connoisseurs of taste. You will have to go through numerous rounds of trials till you perfect your products. Lock in the items which you think will definitely work. They are called safe bets as it appeals to one and all. Add a few items which will please a selected crowd and a few options for the people who love trying something new. If you want to be in the D2C space, having a good shelf life is very important.
It's best to keep your costs low and aim for a lean start-up. Moving on, creating your brand positioning and story is very important. So outsource it to the best because it is very important to make a powerful first impression of your product. Your packaging has to be very attractive to pull prospective clients towards trying your product. Market it the right way and see how the word spreads.
With a bad experience, you not only lose one customer, but a series of them as word of mouth creates a huge impact. Their experience will be shared with their friends and just like that, you will lose out on a chunk of potential customers.
Knowing your competition is something you have to do before you even start contemplating any other possibilities. Identifying your few key strengths and reiterating those will create a brand recall. What you can do better than your peers' matters when you are calculating the success rate. What is profitable for them might not necessarily be profitable for you and the determination of the same is a part of being an entrepreneur.
No one has had it easy and neither will you. The time will test you, demand a lot more than you could ever imagine you are capable of, take you to a point where you would feel completely saturated and feel like giving up, but in that exact moment, if you manage to keep your calm and be level-headed and pivot, that’s the battle half won. Passion and perseverance are two things that need to be in abundance in an entrepreneur’s life. Consistency, concentration, and cooperation are the 3Cs of success that you will have to embrace. The key is to manage your lows and bounce back to keep that fire burning inside you. Going might get tough, and the fire will mellow down, but don’t forget that embers are enough to ignite a fire again.