Christmas is creeping up and 2020 is just around the corner! In this episode we talk about the year so far and the top 5 things that we've learned during our time working on the project.
In this episode we'll be sharing the top 5 takeaways from 2019 and what the year has taught us.
It's safe to say that this year has been a big one, and stopping to take the time to reflect and share our key findings from our journey seems fitting as we approach the start of a new year.
So, what did we learn?
Cue the countdown.
5. Allow a buffer when calculating costs.
When we were doing our pricing model, we didn't really factor in extra costs such as insurance, and the license required to sell chocolate at markets and events.
Our lesson learned was to put a bigger buffer in to cover these unexpected costs and to keep in mind that it is likely to have cost over-runs.
Also in line with this, always try to find alternative, cheaper ways to do things and thoroughly plan it all out. For example, initially we budgeted a refrigerated delivery van service which was pretty expensive, but then found that in cooler months (which took up most of the year) we could just send ambient (without refrigeration), and this was much cheaper.
Image: First delivery done from warehouse (April 2019).
4. How you position your product is everything.
Your USP (unique selling point) is important. You are the one that knows your product best and so don't let other people define it for you, instead proactively state it's position and be clear about it from the start.
How are we trying to achieve this? A bit of everything. From how the package looks, to how social posts are made, what's on our sell sheets - essentially it's crucial to have consistency across all channels of communication.
In our case, we don't want to get treated as a vegan malteser in one channel, and a rice chocolate ball in another, so it's important that we make this clear from the start so as not to misguide stockists and consumers.
Another example we mentioned in the pod was how in our new production run we're changing the packaging to have a bigger sign for vegan, as previously this wasn't explicitly apparent. Someone who has no clue who we are, or what our chocolates stand for, also probably wouldn't have thought we were vegan and that's something we want to position well!
Image: On the shelves in Hong Kong! Kat holding our chocs in Green Common.
3. We need to learn.
Initially, we naively thought this would be easy when it came to sales as we had a bit of a launch hype and this brought in a flood of new stockists. We assumed this was normal, but actually soon enough we realised these were vegan-dominant places willing to support and try us, and were not entirely representative of society's typical mainstream shop.
I guess the lesson here is don't assume that it will go fast and smooth. This is something we're going to try and focus on in 2020, as we are still figuring out a more efficient way to reach more stockists with no budget. And that's okay. It's important to learn.
2. Marketing without a budget is hard work. Get creative.
We're a brand new company and it seems that the average consumer probably wouldn't have heard of us before. We need to find a way to reach this kind of person. Initially and once again naively, we thought this would work simply through word of mouth, but the reality is it isn't so (at least for us so far).
Instead we realised we have to do other things to raise awareness about our brand. Part of it is our transparency, but it's also a lot about community building, for example having a way to sample directly in shops.
As well as this, we learned quality over quantity. Focussing on creating strong relationships and sales in a smaller number of stockists rather than explicitly focussing on being widespread is a priority, not only for building a better reputation but for being able to have the resources to directly help get our product off the ground in-store.
Image: Wrapping the first shop promo pack (November 2019)
1. Your product is an accelerator.
It may seem simple, but the key really is a great product. Of course, if you have a large marketing and ad budget you can pretty much sell anything. On the other hand, if you're like us and starting with 0, having a great product that people enjoy and love will help do the heavy-lifting for you.
For us, after listening to customer feedback, we decided to put this into practice by stepping back from sales and focusing on product development. We found that our new salted caramel flavour is rated much higher than our original, and this should help us do things more efficiently in the New Year.
Image: New salted caramel flavour ready for launch!
So there we have it - Our top 5 learnings for the year.
Okay, fine, we admit. We added another small tip as a Christmas bonus.
No risk no reward.
At the start of the year we committed to a lot of money, with absolutely no experience and no understanding of how we were going to sell it. But here we are, and we've managed to sell a large majority of our production batch.
Of course it's normal to worry, but if you have something that you want to try, go for it! At the end of the day, if it doesn't work out you can figure out an alternative way.
For us, we've just made two new big investments, and have a bigger production batch ahead. It's a bit of a risk, but if we don't take the chance, then we'll never know.
Image: Our launch at the Big Vegan Market (May 2019).
Image: Lincoln (Simon's son) in front of Bite Society Chocolates. First time seeing chocolates stocked in the largest specialty supermarket in Victoria, Wholefood Merchants (June 2019).
And with that, we want to wish all of you guys, our bite tribe, a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. The launch of our salted caramel flavour has been delayed by a bit, but we will keep you updated and hopefully have some new updates next week.
Make sure to head to our shop finder to get your hands on a pack for a special someone this holiday season, and remember to bite for what's right!