23 August 2018, 09:37 AM
  • The first part of bringing a product to market? Coming up with a genuinely new concept, as Richard Horwell of Brand Relations explains
Coming up with an innovative idea

Richard Horwell is the owner of Brand Relations, a specialist food and drink marketing and branding company based in London, that has been behind the launch and development of over 80 brands in the UK market in the last 10 years. Richard has also built up and sold companies of his own in this sector during this time, plus has over 30 years experience in marketing FMCG brands around the world, having lived and worked in the US, Australia and the Middle East

Over the last 10 years I have seen hundreds of entrepreneurs walk through the doors of my office with what they feel is a life-changing idea. Unfortunately, most of them have not researched either their target market or the mistakes made by previous brands in the same space, because it’s almost impossible these days to find something truly unique and untried in the food and drink sector.

To create the future for a new product you need to look at its past and what has worked for similar brands worldwide; that way you can make it bigger and better than ever before. The second thing to consider is your target market - just because your friends and family tell you the idea is brilliant that doesn’t mean it’s commercially viable. You need to find your target audience and narrow it down, and you need to understand what they want and what they are looking for in your product, as without this information you can waste a lot of money on marketing that goes nowhere.

Yes, I own a branding company so I am biased, but some of the best products I have seen have woeful packaging and silly names. Understanding your audience can help you communicate your message via the packaging and branding, telling your target consumer what they want to hear and why they should try your brand over all of the others. This doesn’t mean throwing large amounts of money at an agency, it just means understanding your brand, which again comes down to market research and knowing what has succeeded and what has failed – and most importantly, why.

I have always believed being disruptive in a category works. Catching a consumer’s eye is hard enough, so try to distance yourself from the competition; don’t try to look like a ‘me too’ for the bigger brands – these days consumers can see right through that – besides, you’d only end up looking like a supermarket own-label.

Because a category is booming doesn’t necessarily mean there is room for another brand – energy drinks and Kombucha tea are two products that spring to mind – instead, try to be the first in your category or close to, because it’s almost impossible to get buyers to switch brands over little differences, and if a previous brand has failed for them there is no chance they will try it again.

It’s a tough road launching a new food or drink brand in the UK, and there is no doubt one of the biggest reasons for failure is money. Without adequate funding, preferably from investors, then the chances are you will fail and use up your life savings. Make sure you build a proper business plan and understand how much you will need and where this money will come from.

I really admire the people that start this journey and I enjoy helping wherever I can. It isn’t just for the money that I started Brand Relations, it’s about the thrill of taking brands from ZERO to HERO. That’s why I enjoy going to work every day and so should every entrepreneur out there.

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