by Dale Buss
Groupe Danone has pretty much left Happy Family Brands to its own devices since purchasing the New York-based startup, a pioneer in organic baby and toddler foods, in 2013. So under founder and CEO Shazi Visram, Happy Family has kept heading in promising new directions, broadening its brand and testing its approach with new products and new customers.
Three years ago, Happy Family dipped into the adult market for pouches of fruits and vegetables with a new line of pouches called Happy Squeeze—in part because moms and dads were already eating the Happy Baby and Happy Tot pouches aimed at their kids. The launch of Shine Organics comprises a more refined approach to the adult palate that includes bold and un-kid-like flavor combinations with ingredients such as wheatgrass and turmeric. Each of the four product lines—Purify, Elevate, Revive and Calm—are aimed at optimizing a particular function or emotion in adults.
“A lot of folks who do juicing, cleansing and fasting or use a lot of supplements may be familiar with how phenomenal turmeric is as an anti-inflammatory and how good it makes you feel if you use it on a daily basis,” Visram told brandchannel. “But for most people, with how we approach the product propositions, we’re trying to give them a general idea of what to expect.”
Visram talked with brandchannel about Shine, Happy Family and its relationship with Paris-based Danone, owner of the Dannon yogurt brand in the US.
brandchannel: What was your strategy behind Shine Organic?
Shazi Visram: We’ve had so many people tell us they love the convenience, affordability and quality of food that comes out of pouches and they use them for themselves at a number of different times. Yet they also have this sense of embarrassment because they think it’s a baby food or a toddler snack. We thought: Why not encourage healthy eating? If we know the format is a good one, why not change the brand to make it feel more compelling for adults and create a nutritious alternative?
bc: So obviously you’ve got different cues in terms of flavors, package design and so on?
Visram: It’s powered by Happy Family Brands but you don’t see Happy Baby or anything like that on the Shine packaging—our logo and brand have become a cue for baby food.
It’s not about our brand anyway but about the simple mix of some pretty awesome ingredients. So the packages have a sophisticated, clean look to them.
bc: You could have played it much safer with your strategy for the individual products and flavors.
Visram: This is part of our Happy Family philosophy: If we’re going to put food in a package, we’re going to make it shine. This time, it’s literally true! The idea is that if we’re convenient creating snacks for adults, let’s also satisfy the functional needs that folks are looking for.
Then we decided that if we’re looking for something that’s purifying or detoxifying, let’s get nature’s best ingredients to do that. We took a lot of inspiration from smoothie bars and juice bars across America and our own homes.
For instance, passion flower—included in the Calm variety of Shine—is something we use in our home to help calm my autistic son and achieve a sense of balance in our lives. Why don’t we bring that into snacking and just make it more enlightened and sophisticated?
bc: How has your association with Danone helped with Shine?
Visram: It really is such an enlightened and progressive, large company—a multinational with a big mission around nutrition. The people are so motivated to up all of their portfolio brands in terms of what they bring to society.
And they recognize that each culture shares unique experiences around food. They recognize that Happy Family has our own way of communicating with mom and dad to fill gaps in the market, and they really and truly have left us alone from a day-to-day management perspective. They’re like a big brother standing behind you in the playground in case something bad happens, but for the most part they just want to see you run and play.
bc: How has Danone made your job easier overall?
Visram: What the company really brings to the table is expertise around quality and safety for baby. We’re under the wing of someone who pretty much created infant formula and whose level of science and R&D is unsurpassed. The fact that Danone has 80 brands around the world, and we can tap into all of that expertise, really protects us.