We recently introduced a new enkooge (tamarind) juice on the market. The product was developed by a creative and innovative team led by our CEO, Eddie. Several versions of the product were made and tested with real potential customers. Acting on the feedback our Head of Production, Keisha, constantly fine tuned the recipe. The recipe was also tested in a food lab to ensure it was food grade. Registration with UNBS is also almost complete. With the right recipe the challenge became packaging. Through our networks the team found bottle and label suppliers and bought some small batches. Working with our graphics designer, Michael, the team designed the logo and label. The logo was filed with URSB by our legal counsel, Damalie.
The challenge we now faced was how to sell the product. First we had to identify our target customer. This was done through trial and error. The team supplied samples to different market segments and obtained feedback. We then narrowed it to everyday people who are primarily doing informal trades. Many of these people grew up in villages and came to Kampala to trade. In the village they ate enkooge as a delicacy. They typically ride bodas, drive taxis, own shops, and speak luganda or local languages. Most are self employed. We have found these customers in trading centers, taxi parks, boda boda stages, etc. They have small disposable incomes but love good well packaged products at affordable prices. Surprisingly the juice is receiving good feedback from corporate clients and people from all walks of life. We settled for a price point of 1,000 shs per bottle after testing different prices with different customers. Obviously this price point is sufficient to cover the direct variable costs of production. The only challenge now is to grow sales volumes to offset the fixed costs.
First stop on the activation schedule was Mukono taxi park. The strategy was to drive initial free sampling and use ground marketing because of a constrained budget. The sales team then stocked the shops around the taxi park. As an incentive we offered a 50% discount for any purchases from the shops. This way we demonstrated to the shops that there is money to be made. Posters were pinned. And word of mouth did the magic. Bottles started flying off the shelf. This strategy has been repeated in Kalagi, Manyangwa, and other trading centers. The team is slowly building momentum. The sales team includes Michael, Pius, Ricky, Rahim, Diana and Peter. These guys are so hardworking and committed to this project. Facilitation and records management for our sales team is being handled by our Administrator, Patricia, who reconciles cash on a daily basis. The team is insisting on cash sales in the field to limit our credit risk exposure.
As the team sold the product people kept inquiring what the product does. So we had to position the product in the minds of the consumer. We wanted to control the product narrative. We wanted the product to be different from soda and the juices on the market. We didn’t want to position it as a healthy drink. After a brain storming session the team agreed to position the drink as a “refreshing natural juice.” The juice can be taken as a refreshment but with many health benefits. Some posters and T-shirts were made and off the team went. We consulted our Brand Expert, Matilda, for guidance on how to position the juice.
The challenge has now become sustaining demand. We face two critical problems. The first is sourcing good quality fruit from the villages. The second is lack of adequate capital to invest in production equipment and market expansion. These problems are being solved one step at a time and sooner or later will be resolved. We have recruited a standby night shift and bought some small equipment to boost production.
Introducing a new product or idea is like having a new baby. Initially the babies are frail and weak and totally dependent on you. Eventually they begin to crawl, walk, speak and run around. They take on a life of their own. You just have to push through the first couple of years and keep your eyes on the ball.