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The Natural/Organic/Product Myth

A Good Product Is Enough

25Jan

I’m a dreamer, an entrepreneur, a do gooder. I believe in the natural and organic space and movement. I’ve seen the world through Executives, Investors and Operators eyes for more than 15 years. I believe the world can be a better place than it is today. I believe the brands we’ll know 20-years from now will be markedly different from what we see today. Those are all good things. If you’ve got the next great product, make sure you’re ready for the ride by considering some things I’ve learned along the way.

The Opportunity is Huge

We've all seen the trends. The unabated move to natural and organics. The desire for functional foods, beverages and supplements. The millennials demanding transparency and authenticity. The move for truth in labeling. The backlash against traditional brands. The sky rocketing multiples (Hormel acquires Applegate, Hershey acquires Krave. White wave acquires Vega) when brands are acquired. The relative ease of acquiring capital spurred on by groups like CircleUp. The convergence of technology and social media. The dynamics look extremely attractive for the foodie, wellness connoisseur and in home 'mad scientist.' You've found your panacea. The best tasting xxxxx. The healthiest xxxx. The best solution to xxxx.

I’ve Seen a Lot of Things Come and Go

In 2012, I was fortunate enough to be featured in the NY Times article: getting your product on retail shelves. Suddenly, I was a 'guru' on getting products placed on store shelves. With that came a flood of entrepreneurs (one told me that Google Analytics showed I had 10,000+ searches a day on the article) each with their own fantastic new item. Truth be told, I tasted a lot of great food, sipped a lot of delicious drinks and rubbed a lot of tremendous products on my body. All of them from bright, passionate people.

Then, the awkward moment. I've done the hard work and come up with the next great xxxx. If you'll just make it for me and get it on the shelf. People will love it. They'll tell their friends. The money will be rolling in. 15-years ago, I might have agreed with you. I had the same mindset and uttered the same words. But, a close associate with a 30+ year history selling to leading retail chains said it best when I was completing due diligence on a new product that had approached me. 

'That category needs a new offering, undoubtedly. The store knows it and we know it. The problem is, we’ve seen 20+ great products come and go in that category. They (the buyer) need to believe in the product. But more importantly, they need to believe the company has legs and can make it happen.'

The Simple Reason. It Isn’t Just About Product.

In today’s world, it isn’t about the next great product, formulation or idea. That is a part in developing a business. But, it is only one part. After that, if someone is telling you the truth, there is a lot more work to build the business model and to do what most brands fail to do, build a movement, not a product.

Other Things To Make You Go AHHHHHH…

Movement building is a popular phrase in today’s business lexicon. It recognizes the need to go beyond simply a product or message. It takes its origins from religion, not-for-profits, social and political movements. You can build movements in many ways. Some, are built grassroots. Some are fueled by capital and advertising. But, the tying thread is that they are built with an underlying strategy and understanding of what is being pursued, which is connected to a mission/purpose, which is developed through every aspect of the business model and based on an understanding of the key fundamentals at play. The business model canvas recognizes those things as: the key partners (value creation partners), key activities (enabling and core processes and resources), value proposition (far beyond a physical product or service), customer relationships and the enabling competencies and channels, customer segments, revenue streams and cost structures.

Ground It With Real Expertise – Understand the Fundamentals

Most people I’ve run in to don’t have a full picture of what it will take to succeed following a conventional path. Don’t worry, 15-years ago, neither did I. I didn’t really know what it took to support 10,000+ stores and compete in a crowded field. I didn’t understand all of the players in the value chain and what 'piece of the action,' (margins) they took. I didn’t understand what the message needed to be and what the conversion rate will be (ie. How many people need to receive a message to induce the action you want via different advertising vehicles). I didn’t understand what that did to the cost structure and what resources were needed (capital, people, etcetera, btw, do you know the best ways to structure that for you?) if I followed that path. But, I did know to ask the questions so businesses could find ways to safely develop. I also knew, that if the idea was grounded with purpose/mission, it would find a way to succeed.

This shouldn't burst your bubble. It Should Help You Get Ready for a Tremendous Ride.

I don’t like bursting bubbles and the point of this post wasn’t to burst yours. In fact, my sincere hope is it will inspire you on. While a great product isn’t enough. It’s a good start. If your fortunate, like me, your passion and your mission will help you find the people and resources to help bring the rest together. You’re probably closer than you think and if you take the time to think things through, you’ll be glad that you did.

Sources

Brian Chossek has owned, served as an Executive and consulted with Founders and Investors in the Natural/Organic space for 15+ years. His work enables Entrepreneurs and Investors to safely reach the next level.

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