Secret Sauce: 10 Tips for Getting Your Product into Whole Foods is a guest series by the founders of Bandar Foods. Follow along as Dan and Lalit share their tips and tricks for starting and growing a specialty food company. That’s it – you now have the basic understanding of how to create new food products, get them into stores, and help them sell off shelves. Rinse and repeat. Now, grow your food brand for the rest of your life. Seriously, this never stops. Coca Cola products can be found in nearly every store on the planet, and they still spend billions of dollars annually on advertising and marketing. You’ll get there soon. For many entrepreneurs, the most fun part of starting a food company is nurturing and supporting the brand through all its stages of growth.

Honestly, as a small brand ourselves, we’re learning this as we go. We constantly ask for meetings with mentors to get advice on how to become the next giant food brand. This will take years. Think of how long the world’s biggest food brands – Heinz, Nestle, Cheerios – have been at the game. Here are the general buckets to ponder how to get there.

“Owning” an Aisle

The best brands are the clear category leaders that become synonymous with their category. Can you imagine seeing a chip aisle without Doritos? How to get there?

  • More target customers: Maybe your pasta sauce is currently targeting young parents, can you expand your reach to millennials or an older demographic?
  • Line expansion: As long as your products are selling well, getting more flavors, pack configurations or sizes can help you gain more shelf space in your category. Oreos has done this so well, even the Pope likes them.

Expanding to Multiple Aisles

  • Multiple placements in a store: Huy Fong Sriracha is a great product that can be found in the international aisle, the hot sauce aisle, and sometimes in the meat or deli department next to the other condiments. Expand the usage occasions of your products.
  • Brand expansion: A stellar brand can use its well-established qualities to expand into different categories. Chex started as a popular cereal before multiplying its brand equity with Chex Mix in the salty snack set of every convenience store in the country.

Lifestyle Brand

  • Establishing a unique personality: Great brands don’t need to be for everyone. Just like how the most enduring musical artists have a weirdness (Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Kanye?) that endears them to their fans, the best brands find ways to enthrall their target consumers – and forget everyone else. Red Bull has quirky and extreme branding tied to action sports, while Chester Cheetah is like the coolest cat ever. Maybe your mother doesn’t love these brands, but that’s why they have loyal followings.
  • Building a strong relationship with your customers: Social media makes this easier than ever. Focus on engagement rates and not just number of followers.

Again, there are countless ways to build a brand. There’s no right or wrong way. Expand outside of grocery into gas stations, or be a staple in college cafeterias. The best part about food is that everyone needs to eat. Brand building is supposed to be fun and we’re doing our best to grow. Excited to share our journey with you – and please share yours with us. Email us at monkey@bandarfoods.com to let us know how you’re doing. Best of luck. Go crush it!

Don’t miss the earlier posts in our Secret Sauce series!

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