Fledgling Brands Must Solve Problems to Break Through

Alison Cayne understands that the American palate is evolving.

Cayne created Haven’s Kitchen Sauces and knows that “at the end of the day, a grocery store is a physical space, with a finite amount of room to put products.”

So how can fledgling brands break through to become well-received? Cayne revealed a few secrets in the latest “FI Live” event. The interactive discussion also examined which flavors are currently resonating with consumers.

Cayne, who hosts the podcast series In the Sauce, said flavors like chimichurri, ginger miso, and turmeric tahini have gained popularity during the pandemic as many consumers became adventurous while cooking at home.

“Americans are craving complexity and heat, and bitter, and … things that are good for them,” Cayne said. “They’re [saying], ‘What can I do to make this (meal) feel a little more special? How can I give myself some sort of dopamine hit that either takes me back to a place I visited, or that makes me feel like I’m doing something fun and different?’”


Cayne also offered plenty of advice for food industry leaders launching new brands.

“Every emerging brand’s whole business, for the first five years, is a velocity story,” she explained. “Are people adding this (product) over and over again? … That’s where you need to be, at least in my category.”

So, how can fledgling brands reach the point where consumers buy their product repeatedly? These days, it’s imperative to market as much as possible. Cayne also noted that brands need to market “to the end consumer, as well as to grocers who are willing to put your product on the shelf. You, as a brand, need to think of grocers as your partner, and work to make their lives easier.”

If brands note that inflation-weary shoppers are starting to swap out red meat in favor of fish, for example, brand marketers could provide retailers with fish recipes that feature their sauce product.

Cayne said leaders of fledgling brands need to focus on solving the everyday issues that shoppers face.

“Big picture,” she continued, “you have to solve a problem for people. Not just ‘I want to put this out into the world because my cookies are really good.’ What’s the problem, and how are you the solution? Then you have to think about: Who am I talking to, and who’s my core (consumer)? How do I connect with those people?

“At the end of the day,” she concluded, “if you don’t have (a product) that’s differentiated – that solves a problem for consumers – you’re going to have an uphill climb.”