Developing Fortified Porridge for the East African Market
One of the most common hurdles social entrepreneurs with exciting product ideas face is the lack of formal distribution channels in rural markets. Living Goods tackles this challenge in Uganda by training local sales agents to deliver life-changing products such as anti-malaria treatments, fortified foods, solar lamps, clean burning cook stoves, and sanitary pads. The analogy they use is “Avon ladies”, where CEO Chuck Slaughter worked for a few years in order to understand the franchise model. With more than 1,000 profitable agents in Uganda, Living Goods expanded its service to Kenya and was in a position to strengthen its supply chain and build on its brand with its own product line. They wanted to start with a product with proven health impacts in their target market as well as proven market-demand.
Living Goods asked Catapult to develop a tasty and fortified food product with packaging that reinforced the Living Goods brand and pricepoint that they could manufacture in East Africa.
We leveraged Living Goods network of health experts, visited their East African manufacturing vendors, and contracted a top US-based food designer to craft five product concepts that address Living Goods’ customers’ nutritional, convenience, economic and eating-experience needs. Over the course of nine months, we:
- visited households, shadowed sales agents, and interviewed experts in order to uncover insights, such as the fact that Living Goods’ market is very discerning when it comes to taste
put forth multiple custom packaging design iterations with local manufacturers
used both Kenyan and US graphic designers to develop a dozen labeling options and put them in front of consumers to gauge attractiveness
- designed and co-developed a fortified porridge formulation itself with three East African food producers
- designed and conducted taste tests of these formulations with Living Goods customers using a Ugandan research firm
- vetted the top two manufacturers and created the full product specification package, including standards and sourcing partners.
Living Goods took the outputs from Catapult and was able to successfully stock their shelves with their first private label product. Shortly after, they started selling this new product in Uganda and Kenya.