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How to Build a Brand and Launch Products in the Food Business

Easy Applesauce to Go - Making Moms so Happy!

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GoGo squeeZ is the first squeezable based snack for kids on the go.

GoGo squeeZ is the first squeezable, re-sealable, no-mess, all-natural, applesauce based snack for kids (and big kids!) on the go.

GoGo squeeZ

GoGo squeeZ was introduced in the U.S. in 2008, making it the first squeezable, re-sealable, no-mess, all-natural, gluten-free, nut-free, and allergen-free applesauce based snack for kids (and big kids!) on the go. The company is the American version of its sister brand Pom'Potes in France, which is where GoGo squeeZ was created by its parent company, Materne. GoGo squeeZ's distribution is constantly growing, with more than 25,000 stores across the U.S. now carrying the products. Since 2008, more than 1.9 billion of these innovative pouches have been sold to families around the world to share at breakfast, in lunchboxes, in cars, on the go-go, at games, in the garden and always with a smile.

Meena Mansharamani, Managing Director of Materne NA, gave me insights into how they built their brand, saw the problem moms had for healthy snacks and how they launched successful products.

Highly Innovative Products -May Have Barriers to Consumer Acceptance

When GoGo squeeZ was launched in 2008, it had a novel and unfamiliar form (applesauce was always in jars or single serve plastic cups). Meena added, "When we launched at Whole Foods, we chose to be discovered vs. marketed to Moms. Shelf placement was critical for trial, and we were and are merchandised next to applesauce. If we had it in an obscure aisle/category it would have been harder to gain trial."

Far too often, parents face the compromise in snacks: convenience to match busy kids schedules vs. the healthy snack attributes moms seek. It appears GoGo squeeZ may have found the perfect "snack solution" for parents. The squeezable pouch and built-in straw make healthy snacking and playing on-the-go easy for kids.

When you are on the shelf, a brand needs to get off the shelf

Eye-Catching Packaging: One of their strategies here is to engage their brand evangelists. Their brand loyalists helped determine the playful and colorful look of their new package design that was launched in conjunction their newest (and seventh flavor), AppleMango.

Many brands today are "crowd sourcing" new product development since this gets consumers to have early buy-in and drives repeat purchases. Appealing to the Green-Minded: As part of their "doing good and doing well", GoGo squeeZ has partnered with upcycling pioneer, TerraCycle which they feel is a great attraction to parents… a snack that is both convenient and eco-friendly.

How are you using social media? Do you have specific programs to illustrate that really worked well?

Meena said, "GoGo squeeZ's social media is a constant driving force for the brand as we use our GoGo squeeZ Facebook page and Twitter (@GoGosqueeZ) to both keep our loyal consumers in the loop with the latest brand developments, while receiving valuable feedback from them as well."

"In the past, we have used our Facebook page to roll-out hints about GoGo squeeZ's latest flavors and new packaging, which has increased engagement significantly. We also found that our consumers take pride in their love of GoGo squeeZ, so we began featuring a photo of children and GoGo in action with our ongoing "squeeZ of the week" spotlight ."

They have a Cause Related Marketing component to their social media strategy which spreads the word about their Pass the Play mobile playground tour. Brand positioning with Social word of mouth supercharges how families can help spread the word… digitally! For every tweet with the #PassthePlay hashtag, GoGo squeeZ will donate $1 to their charity partner, The Fresh Air Fund.

According to Meena, "Content is integrated to our broader campaign 'Always Play' where we are committed to communicating the benefits of play and putting these words into action by inviting families to play. Kids need to get out and play vs. parking in front of computers and iPhones."

How About Mommy Bloggers or the food and health blogging community?

Mommy Bloggers are fast becoming a new product launch tactic in the food business. GoGo squeeZ started working with parent bloggers in a big way last year. They have their own team and agency partners focusing on digital engagement with their bloggers. They also had a significant presence at an important mommy blogger conference earlier this year, BlissDom in Nashville, TN, and they are constantly exploring new opportunities to network with blogger influencers at other events.

3 Tips for Building a Great Social Media Brand Plan

Here is my take on what you can learn from GoGo squeeZ and apply to smaller food businesses.

  • Social Authenticity - Take the lead from this brand and make all of your decisions based on how well they fit with your mission statement and your values.
  • Don't use social media as another channel for advertising and promotions. Use social media to engage with and learn from your consumers.
  • Make an effort to get to know the WHY? Make an effort to understand the true motivating factors that drives your brand. You can engage your social followers for new product ideas and ideas for your packaging to make your products pop off the shelf.
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