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Author: Danielle Braga

CPG Marketing Lessons: Launching a Disruptive Brand

I recently led the development and launch of a disruptive brand in the health and wellness food and beverage space for the first time in my career. It was a very rewarding experience. As I think about what made this launch so successful, I want to share the 5 most important lessons I learned which I will apply to wherever my next opportunity lies and will also use to help others in the process of preparing for a new brand launch. Some of these lessons are obvious, but not to be overlooked!

  1. Education, Education, Education:  When you are a disruptive brand, you can never underestimate the importance of educating consumers on your product.  In our case, the product is refrigerated in a category that is filled with shelf-stable products.  We used search and social to tell and remind consumers to look for us in the refrigerated area of the store. This is still part of the brand’s core messaging almost a year after the launch.
  1. Highlight Only the Most Compelling Benefits:  This product has several nutritional benefits. It was tempting to talk about all of them, but we resisted and succeeded as a result.  We consistently spoke to the 3 most compelling benefits throughout all of our brand messaging across search, social and in-store and let the consumer discover the other benefits once they engaged online and in-store.
  1. Consumer-Friendly Packaging, in Design and Function:  Create packaging that is simple for consumers to open and reseal.  This one is obvious, but in a startup, things don’t always go as planned.  In our case, the package we launched with was suboptimal because we needed to commit to packaging equipment ahead of the design work.  We ended up with a clumsy package that consumers didn’t realize was resealable. Our customers communicated this to us and we immediately began work on an improved package.
  1. Don’t Give Up Despite Retailer Reluctance:  We were convinced that our disruptive product would sell much better if it was displayed on pegs so the compelling benefits were easy to spot, but most retailers merchandised us laying down in the well.  It took time and persistence, but when we were finally able to convince one of our retailers to display our package on pegs the velocity became significantly higher.  Once we had the data we were able to leverage it to influence other retailers.  Don’t give up on giving your brand its best chance of success!
  1. Embrace Your Fans:  One of the many nutritional benefits of our product was it was the only keto-friendly option in the category. Keto followers became our biggest fans, creating new uses and recipes themselves and posting to share with their fellow keto followers.  We embraced these fans and paid the most active ones a nominal amount to create several quick and easy at-home snacks when we all found ourselves at home back in March.  This gave us a ton of great content and strengthened our brand’s relationship with this community that continues to flourish as they have become passionate advocates.

While the product referenced is not plant-based, the lessons learned still apply! Check out Egglife here.

Chris Mahoney is a brand marketing executive with 20 years experience accelerating brands in the food, beverage and pet industries.  She has led brands at companies including MolsonCoors, Beam Suntory, Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Merrick Pet Care.  Most recently, Chris led the very successful launch of the egglife™ brand at EggLife Foods.

Chris is actively seeking new, disruptive projects and is excited to connect more deeply with the plant-based movement and market.

Connect with Chris Mahoney on LinkedIN


What’s Next in Plant-Based Catering?

The plant-based movement shows no signs of slowing down and that means even more choices for caterers that want to expand their plant-based offerings. To stay competitive in this ever-changing landscape, it helps to stay ahead of the hottest plant-based trends–from innovative ingredients and techniques to game-changing advances in flavorings and textures. Here are six catering trends to watch for 2023. 


Fun & nostalgia.

After a very challenging few years, people are yearning for carefree fun and whimsy. For kids and kids-at-heart, think dairy-free DIY sundae bars and ice-cream sandwiches made with products such as Ripple frozen desserts and dairy-free Eclipse ice-cream. A yearning for simpler times also means more comfort food. Classics like Sloppy Joes, Chicken Parm, sliders, and tacos made with proteins from companies like Before the Butcher, No Evil Foods, and Blackbird Foods are also popping up on catering menus across the country and will likely continue to be popular for the foreseeable future. 


Global cuisine.

Certified Master Chef James Corwell has seen growing interest in international dishes such as plant-based Chicken Tikka, Swiss Braised “Steak” with Mushroom Sauce, Dim Sum, and Coq au Vin. He says that to create the plant-based version of Steak Diane, for example, you need good vegan beef flavoring from yeast, mushroom stock, natural caramel color (optional), lentil cream, Dijon, shallots and mushrooms sautéed in a high quality vegan butter, salt, pepper and fresh tarragon.  


Plant-based corporate and institutional catering.

Hospitals, corporate catering, and schools are beginning to embrace more non-meat options, recognizing the health, environmental and bottom line benefits. “Personal awareness has been there but now more college and corporate campuses are bringing more and more vegan offerings than ever before,” says Corwell. One example:  Thanks to an initiative from Sodexo and the Humane Society of the United States, hundreds of university menus across the United States will increase their plant-based meal offerings to 42 percent of total meals by 2025. 


Next-level plant-based seafood.

The plant-based seafood category continues to push the envelope with companies like Good Catch Foods, which makes a variety of dishes from classic tuna in mayo to popcorn shrimp to salmon burgers. The Mind Blown Plant Based Seafood Company ups the ante with plant-based shrimp and scallops that’ll fit right in at your next beach themed soiree. Both are made with konjac, a root vegetable that is grown in parts of Asia 

Stellar sauces.

Want to serve a French-inspired feast with classically prepared sauces that don’t use animal products? Corwell says that yeast-derived flavors are getting better all the time, while mushroom powders help create depth of flavor similar to meat. He also says that “cream” from lentils that doesn’t taste like coconut is a game changer. “And never under estimate caramelized tomato paste, fresh herbs and classical aromatics like onion, carrot, celery and garlic, which are time tested and never go out of style,” he adds.  


All the Fixins’.

Sure, you can have your pick of plant-based burgers and “chicken” patties but what about the bread and toppings? Fast-casual caterers now have their pick of condiments, toppings and sauces that make plant-based burgers, salads, and sandwiches even more craveable and 100% vegan. Choices range from Vegenaise and American Cheese from Follow Your Heart  to Daiya creamy salad dressing for a classic plant-based Caesar Salad to a Filet No Fish from Good Catch topped with plant-based cheese and a classic tartar sauce without dairy. 



Ben Davis is the VP of Content at Plant Based World Expo, North America’s only professional 100% plant-based focused event.