Tell us about avocadomilk and how this business venture came about?
Avocadomilk is a world first dairy free, preservative free, artificial colours and flavours free, cholesterol free, vegetarian drink. I own avocadomilk, along with Terry Daly, and my wife Sachie Nomura. We launched avocadomilk into the USA market early 2020.
The concept of avocadomilk actually started around four and a half years ago by accident. Sachie, who is a chef and owner of Sachie’s Kitchen, was in the kitchen trying to make avocado mayonnaise. However, what she created by accident was similar to the iconic 3M story – a failure to make glue turned into the post-it note. When Sachie had me and Terry try what resulted, we knew something had been created that has never been tried before. This failed attempt to make mayonnaise proved to be the first iteration of avocadomilk.
Terry and I co-own an advertising agency together, and from here we all collectively decided to launch avocadomilk as our new business venture. However, what ensued would be a lengthy process, as we came to understand the challenges involved dealing with avocado which is the most unstable fruit in the world. We would have gone through at least 300-400 iterations before, some three and a half years later, we cracked the code. Not only this, no one had done it before, and we had to figure everything out ourselves.
What benefits does avocadomilk have compared to other alternative milk options?
Every bottle contains at least 20% of avocado, so with every bottle the natural goodness of avocado is in there. Avocados are packed with vitamins and nutrients that keep your body strong, and can help strengthen your immune system. Not only this, it’s low in sugar with less than 3gms of sugar per 100mls. There are only 8 ingredients in the product, and all the ingredients are natural. It’s completely free of dairy, preservatives, artificial colours and flavors, and cholesterol.
What steps did you take to validate the USA as a market for avocadomilk?
We conducted a lot of physical market research into what was currently on the shelves, and what prospective buyers wanted to see.
From our conversations, we realised the USA market wants to see legitimate innovation, and what New Zealand and USA considers as ‘innovative’ are two different things. USA buyers need to provide their customers something on their shelves never seen before. If you can do that, then they will open doors for you. If you can’t you don’t stand a chance. We knew we had an innovative product, and therefore avocadomilk’s potential for the USA.
What was your strategy for entering the USA?
Our Strategy involved:
- Clarifying how we wanted to position avocadomilk in the F&B market
- Deciding where and the mode in which we wanted to introduce avocadomilk
- Understanding how we wanted avocadomilk to look and feel
- Employing a considered and deliberate social strategy
America is massive, and identifying how we positioned ourselves within the market was key. We asked ourselves: did we want to appeal to a mass market, or did we want to market our product as something premium, and command a price point to reflect that?
The above enabled us to define geographically where within the USA we would start. California is known for driving trends in the F&B sector, so we went there. The next decision was the mode in which we wanted to sell avocadomilk – online or in store. Our approach from the outset has been to ‘think big’, so while online was going to be the easier option, we decided to be brave and go straight to bricks and mortar retail.
In terms of branding, it was really important to have a cool brand behind avocadomilk. We knew we wanted the brand to represent cleanness and vibrance, so were guided by these principles.
From here, we drove a deliberate social strategy to ensure our product was noticed. We were able to deliver this through the Agency 88, led by Terry’s passion and knowledge, that led into some major news publications picking up such as Good Morning USA, The Today Show, Veg News, many more, culminating in being featured on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and reaching 22.8M Americans.
What has been key to your success with expansion offshore?
Bravery. From the outset, we have been really brave in forging the relationships we have in the USA, and how we went to market. People we spoke to early on told us this product wouldn’t work. We are now in over 350 stores across the USA and have won three global awards in London & Germany. We continued on, believed in what we had created, and forged our own path.
What key opportunities do you see for Kiwi businesses looking to take on the USA?
The USA is huge, and has a massive consumer base, so there is a lot of opportunity. The thing about Americans is, once they back your product, they are really helpful. Some even will go out of their way to support you. They love to see an innovative brand that has come out of nowhere succeed. For these reasons, the USA presents a lot of opportunities for innovative Kiwi brands who have created something truly unique. First and foremost, however, these brands need to be very clear about their proposition.
What’s next for you, and how global kiwis can get involved
Our focus will be raising capital so we can expand our product range. Industry partners of ours in the USA are already asking for things like a wider range of grab and go flavours, vegan butters, icecream and skincare!
If global kiwis are interested – drop us a line to [email protected]!