Finding food and formula to feed children "is really a personal journey and you rely on your fiends and family for their advice and opinions. So, we have found that the best approach for us is to let mums share their stories" and convince other parents when Kabrita goat milk formula and products are the right choice, said Simona Irwin, director of sales at Kabrita.
She explained to FoodNavigator-USA that is why Kabrita interviewed users to share their experiences with Kabrita on the company's and other retailers' websites.
"Mums in this age of transparency can have, at times, mistrust in bigger businesses and think it is their due diligence to hear from people other than just the company," she added.
And the strategy is working. It helped the company recently score shelf space on shelves in 2,300 Safeway stores and grow 261% in the toddler milk category at Whole Foods, according to the company.
It explains that many parents are turning to it as America's #1 goat milk formula and goat milk yogurt and fruit pouches to help east digestive sensitivities to cow's milk, even though the products may be inappropriate for those with diagnosed allergies.
But there is more to Kabrita's goat milk products than anecdotes. The company also has invested heavily in scientific research to support its claims.
"There definitely is a lot we don't know as far as why goat milk seems to be naturally easier for us to digest, but what we do know is that goat milk behaves more closely to human milk in the digestive system" than cow milk, Irwin said.
She explained that Kabrita used a mechanical stomach to compare how goat milk, cow milk and human milk are digested.
"The Kabrita formula and human formula followed the same graph of digestion. So,they started to digest right away, and the out put was the same. The takeaway is [goat milk] is digested more closely to human milk," she explained.
"The cow's milk, interestingly, there was no digestive activity for almost 15 minutes. So, the idea is that the cow's milk could sit in the belly for 15 minutes," and that wait time could be related to sensitivities, she said.
"So for our product, the key to helping ease sensitivities" although not allergies "to cow milk is that the composition and structure are closer to human milk than cow milk is," she said.
Working with healthcare providers
But delivering this message in a way that is transparent and does not overstate the benefit of the goat milk on the packaging is "challenging," Irwin admits.
Which is where recommendations from health care professionals comes in, she said.
"We have a small medical team that works on detailing both pediatricians and then also naturopathic doctors, chiropractors and other practitioners who are working with children and we have found … that when mum comes in they are able to deliver that message" in an accurate and understandable manner, Irwin said.
The company also provides detailed information about the health benefits -- and limitations -- on its blog. The posts often get "into the nitty gritty" and are likely too much information for some consumers, but are there for those parents who want the back story and what makes goat milk easier to digest for some than cow's milk, Irwin said.
Leveraging consumer reviews
She added Kabrita will continue to leverage these different modes of communication to drive sales in the long-term, but in the short-term it will continue to focus on connecting parents who are looking for something different with each other and the brand by amplifying reviews.
One way it does this is by partnering with a company that publishes user reviews left on the brand's website to other mainstream retail websites, including Target and Babys R Us, Irwin said.
"This is a big win for us because we do find mums want to hear from other mums," she said.
The company also is striving to provide "extensive FAQs to answer whatever questions mums might have" and to ensure when they type those questions into Google the brand's site appears near the top of the list with trustworthy answers, Irwin said.
As the company expands its marketing reach, it also is expanding its portfolio in the US.
Irwin noted that Kabrita currently is testing its Stage 1 formula for babies 0 to 12 months of age to sell in the US. She expects that research to be completed next year, and the company to receive FDA approval after that.
Longer term, the company wants to branch into the toddler snack category, Irwin said.
"So often kids who have food sensitivities get left out of favorites, like the little cheese crackers and the pouches. So, we are striving to … offer a solution to families that don't feel like they have as much choice," she said. "We don't want them to worry about what will happen after or what sort of reaction will come from the product."