Kara Rosen set up after many years spent running on empty and becoming ill. Failed by traditional medicine, Kara began seeking out nutritional advice to replenish her body and build back immunity and energy. Inspired by the power that intelligent nutrition (mostly plants) had on regaining her health, Kara became inspired by the power of the right foods to not only heal a damaged body, but to ensure you’re Plenished with all the good stuff you need to have the health, energy and drive to live a full and active life.
Ultimately this lead Kara to create a portfolio of products that act as health-hacks for the way we live. Plenish are champions of proactive health that easily integrates into life and tastes delicious, keeping people running on plenty. Their mission is to fuel healthier, happier and more productive lives by creating products that help you get more in, so you can get more out.
We met with Kara to find out:
– How health drink brands can disrupt the market
– The importance of offering both taste and nutrition
– How wellness brands can collaborate effectively
– Predicted upcoming trends for the market
1) How can health drink brands disrupt the market?
When I arrived in the UK nearly 8 years ago, I was a big consumer of cold-pressed juice (based on a health journey I had been on) and I couldn’t believe there was nothing happening in this space here. Most of the juices on the market were heat pasteurized and full of what is essentially fruit sugar. It became glaringly obvious to me that, at the time in the UK, the Olympics were happening and boutique fitness studios were opening up – but just felt like there wasn’t a drink or a juice that was serving this market and the growing need for something a bit healthier with less sugar.
2) How can you achieve both good taste and nutrition?
Our drinks’ taste is at the absolute forefront of everything that we do. It’s not too dissimilar from food – it really all comes down to the ingredients that you choose to put in. At Plenish we only use organic, sustainable and fresh ingredients; whether that’s the organic nuts we work closely with our co-op of farmers to select (to make sure they’re not bitter and that they’re roasted to perfection before we make the milk from them) or when we’re using our juices making sure that the actual raw material is best-in-class. This means we will always end up with a better tasting product. Then, it really all comes down to mixology; spending a lot of time getting your process right. It does take a lot of work and can be a bit more expensive to do when you’re using the best ingredients, but at the end of the day, it’s what’s going to drive that great taste.
3) Is there a winning formula for disrupting the market?
Lots of new businesses want to talk about disruption, but really I think the key – the most essential piece of being successful – is coming up with a product or service of the utmost integrity. For us, for example, that means making it with the best ingredients and the highest integrity of process, coupled with a great flavour and an understanding of what the consumer wants and needs. If you can marry those two, that is really the winning formula in my experience. There is so much out there at the moment; the wellness space is growing exponentially and there are a lot of people coming into the market trying to essentially offer a ‘me too’ situation. So if you really want to disrupt the market, there really are two ways: you can either do something but do it better and differently – or you can have complete innovation and start something entirely new. They both have their benefits.
If you’re starting new, you need to think about how much education is going into talking to consumers and getting them to understand what it is you are making or selling. This is a great role to play, because if you do it well and do it right you can be a market leader. The challenge of that is that education takes a long time and is really expensive to do. You know, if you don’t have a big budget for advertising, TV and are working out of a home that can be really challenging and take a very long time.
If you’re going to a category or service that already exists sometimes it’s a bit easier, and if you take a look and say: ‘ok what are these people doing and doing right, but what needs are still not being met for the consumer?’ That could be a different format, or that the product is simply better but that’s the kind of thing that you will then have to educate that customer on.
Then really it’s about speaking to consumers in a meaningful and relevant way; which means you need to understand, again, who your target consumer is and what their needs are. So doing research and getting out there to talk to people who are actually buying your product or service, understanding how they are using it and then making sure your innovation pipeline and your way of marketing is really relevant to them and helping them is essential; because people will only care about your business if it helps them. Which is what I think is at the centre of every business and how we’ve built our business: it’s always been consumer-centric and everything we do, whether it’s a piece of marketing or a new product development, I ask myself: “why would somebody care?” If you can’t answer that question, your answer is probably come up with something else.
4) How can brands choose the best online channels?
So I think the online marketing mix is always changing and we’re always trying to test and move away from what doesn’t work and move towards what does. For us, email has been really, really successful – we’re a direct consumer business but we also sell through retailers, so being able to communicate to your customers and giving them content that’s relevant to them and being able to tell them about new products and services has been one of our most successful channels. It’s always a hard one because there are lots of ways to acquire emails – but it’s not about the volume, it’s about the quality. So when you’re at an event or at the point of sale, can you collect emails from the people who are actually buying and are interested in your product? Because those emails are going to be the most valuable.
We also use a lot of social media. It’s probably the least expensive and most impactful way of demonstrating your brand and all that it has to offer. I think the social media space is less about a hard product sell and more about educating people about your brand. I always think about the social media place as though your brand is a person. How do they speak, what do they look like in terms of images, and what exactly is it that you want to say?
5) Are consumers shifting towards being more plant-based?
I think consumers are taking a much more holistic approach to wellness; it’s less about “what do I need to take out of my diet?” and more about “what positive additions can I put into my diet?”. That’s really the biggest overall shift that we’re seeing – and I think all of that’s driven by our busy lifestyles. It’s near impossible to stop and completely overhaul everything at once, like coffee intake, calories or cutting back on indulgences. I think what people really want to do, in terms of the more holistic view, is figure our healthy things they can add to their lives, whether that’s squeezing in an exercise class, swapping out dairy for almond milk, or cutting back on meat a couple of times a week. We can see that meat-free Monday, for example, has really taken off along with vegetarianism and veganism – so I think plant-based is a big one because from what we’re seeing in terms of the drivers, there are lots of ethical reasons that are driving those changes. Everything from animal welfare to the effect that dairy and animal farming, in general, has on the planet. Additionally, there are the perceived health benefits, as a nation we aren’t getting enough fruit or veg and if we can swap dairy for something plant based every day then we’re reaching towards the 5-a-day and 10-a-day goals. This is really where we saw the role of the juice which was about squeezing around a kilo of pressed veg into your diet by consuming a 500ml bottle – and then the same thing with our milk, they were really designed to be delicious but not compromise on someone who enjoys dairy, allowing them to get the same experience, plant-based nutrition and protein from a plant versus an animal.
6) How can wellness brands collaborate effectively?
I think it’s really important for brands within the wellness space to work together, particularly ones that are built on a high level of trust to the consumer. So for us, we think very carefully about the partners that we work with because everything that we do from a product point of view is full of strict restrictions that we’ve set ourselves; like where we source our ingredients, our overall process and whether our fruit is organic or not, that we want to make sure we’re aligning with like-minded brands. So I think where the exciting point of the wellness scene is when brands collaborate.
For example, with fitness studios, we don’t just want to sell our milk, what we’ll do is offer shake bars that will allow clients to get a protein shake after class and the services of our own nutritional therapist who can help design bespoke menus for pre or post workout. We’ll help you create your point of sale or countertop cards, we’ll do things like offer free or trial classes to some of our customers near your studio so it can be a real collaboration. The best case scenario is when those studios work the same way with us and will proudly display Plenish milks in their smoothie bar because it shows they’ve scrutinised their choices, because there are lots, and really picked one of the highest integrity. When brands partner it says a lot about each other and who they’re partnering with- and that’s been a great process for us.