Research is a key part of writing a business plan. What's the demand for your product? Who will buy it? And what price point do customers expect?

Naturelly is an all-natural jelly snack made with fruit juice - a healthy choice for kids and grown-ups alike. We chatted to founder Dean Dempsey about carrying out market research for the business plan.

As entrepreneurs we need wonder and insight. We need to know our product or service is wonderful and that we are supplying a wonderful thing into the world of our target audience: and we can only do this if we garner insights from the target audience itself.

Our brand is Naturelly, a healthy juicy jelly snack for kids (and grown-ups too!)

Our mission is to provide innovative and fun products for active kids that are loved by health-conscious parents. Our purpose is to inspire parents to help their children have fun and be healthier, whilst helping to reduce child obesity by encouraging active play.

So, how did we know if it was wonderful before we properly launched?

The initial inspiration

Trying to find healthy snacks was always challenging for us: especially when on days out, or picking the girls up from school and nursery. Tears and tantrums would often follow. We needed an on-the-go refreshment that would fill them up until dinner time, but not put them off their main meal!

So, we put our crazy brains together to find out the stuff our kids and their friends loved - and this led us to the idea of creating Naturelly.

Jelly + Juice = simple! But how could we make it healthy and not loaded with sugar?

First of all we discovered this special gelatine-free jelly called Gellan Gum.  This clever jelly helps fill little tummies up until meal time as it’s a natural dietary fibre, and by mixing it with fruit juice it helps stop those cravings for sugary snacks. We also made sure we didn’t add any sugar OR sweeteners, OR artificial colours, OR artificial flavours OR artificial preservatives…you get the idea.

Being parents ourselves, we only wanted natural ingredients for our little ones. Our eldest daughter sufferers from food allergies, so we wanted it to avoid allergens to.

Our juice comes straight from squeezed fruit, making Naturelly sweet and healthy by nature with nothing naughty. Plus it’s only 36 kcal, containing just 7g (which is 1.5 teaspoons) of naturally occurring fruit sugars per pouch.

Naturelly original branding

Next steps

But would other kids and parents like it? Here’s what we did to prove it, step by step.

  • We went to our youngest daughters’ mother and toddler groups to get feedback on the concept.
  • We did a small production run – 5000 units in one flavour only
  • We took these to a school picnic, got kids and parents to try it, and asked them a few questions.
  • Then, we went to a local kids soft play centre and asked parents and their kids to try it.
  • We launched a Twitter page and starting following parent bloggers, and some followed us back. We then asked them if they would like to try Naturelly and sent them some samples in the post.
  • A Google form was then created and sent to everyone that had received samples in the post…we sent them enough samples to live with the brand for a week or so.

These were a sample of the original questions and answers before we developed more flavours, and then carried out further taste tests with kids and parents on which other flavours we should launch.

Naturelly current branding

This data was added to the fantastic face-to-face research we did at toddler groups and play centres sampling the product, and focus groups with parents, which then gave us the confidence to continue.

Building a business case

But what about the business and proposition?

The British Library is a fantastic resource for free data, including:

  • Mintel Reports (Trends)
  • IRI (Sales data)
  • Neilsen Data (Sales data)
  • Kantar world panel (Insights and opinions)

This allowed us to research and build a business case and commercial need based on data, pairing it with our own research from first-hand potential customers.

Today, we constantly gather feedback from consumers, request reviews and also use services like VYPR, who have consumers ready and willing to provide brands with feedback on messaging, packaging design, communication and price.

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