[Executive Edge] Popularizing superfoods in the Philippines
Carmela Cancio and Ralph Go started e-commerce store The Superfood Grocer because they noticed that many of their loved ones were getting sick with ailments like diabetes, cholesterol, and cancer. The two were even losing some of their relatives to these illnesses.
“The common approach is to accept this reality, often passively and helplessly, considering it a ‘part of life and old age’ or as a result of ‘genes,’” Go said.
Some of their loved ones, though not ailing, were experiencing a lower quality of life.
“Others were also not living their best selves – experiencing low energy, frequent cravings, difficulty sleeping, low immunity from sickness, dull skin, and unmanageable weight gain,” Cancio said.
Cancio and Go took it upon themselves to reach out to these people.
According to Go, they started teaching people how to make daily green smoothies.
They saw the daily green smoothie as the easiest medium by which they could get people interested in healthier eating, as it was easy to make, affordable, and tasted well. Taste was crucial because they wanted people to feel empowered, not deprived.
They also began giving people access to superfoods to improve their diets. Superfoods are foods with high nutritional value.
“An example close to home is malunggay (moringa), which is also widely known abroad,” Cancio said, adding that there are many other local favorites like aratelis, bignay, and duhat.
Cancio said that they were not the first to promote superfoods to the Philippines, though this market was still in its infancy at the time of their launch. They believe they were successful because they introduced such superfoods with an emphasis on education.
Part of this education boiled down to simply emphasizing that there were no miracles when it came to health.
“For us, Superfoods are great optional add-ons – and they do have amazing functional benefits, for example, maca helps bust stress and speeds up recovery from workout. But they are not magic pills and are only second to consuming whole, plant-based foods,” Go said.
Go and Cancio also emphasized that good health was the result of smart decision-making on a daily basis. People need to make better choices from meal to meal. As a result, they did not only promote their own products, but all foods that play into having a healthier diet.
They started sharing this message through The Superfood Grocer with only a kitchen, a laptop, and a small amount of capital.
Content marketing to newbies
Since their primary objective was education, the best way of reaching their target audience was online. The Superfood Grocer has an online store with delivery available nationwide.
Such core service is augmented with content that helps readers understand superfoods, including recipes, podcasts, interviews, and articles. They also sometimes host workshops with 4-course, nutrient-rich meals.
The primary demographic of The Superfood Grocer is not who most people would assume.
“Interestingly, majority of our users now are not health veterans, not vegetarians, and are ‘regular’ people who want to become healthier, happier, more empowered versions of themselves,” Cancio said.
Given that their target audience may be newbies, much of the content they make for them is focused on accessibility. For example, they offer a 110-page green smoothie starter guide downloadable for free on their website that comes with a grocery list, recipes, and a 10-day green smoothie challenge.
The biggest challenge when dealing with superfoods is logistics. “Perhaps now that our customers want to level up and go a step higher after green smoothies, the next challenge is that prepared meals and genuinely healthy food are perishable, and cannot easily be shipped nationwide,” Go said.
Buoyed by inspiration
To address this challenge, Go and Cancio plan to move to a physical location in the future, so that such foods are more readily available to people.
The two are inspired to expand because they have generally received positive feedback from their users.
Some have reported better sleep and higher energy levels throughout the day. Their athletes have spoken of being able to recover faster from workouts. Others suffering from diabetes and high cholesterol were even able to improve their condition.
Such reception harkens back to why they began The Superfood Grocer.
“When we started The Superfood Grocer, setting up a business was interestingly not our primary objective. Rather, we saw a genuine need that was close to us and we passionately wanted to address this and reach (and hopefully help) as many people as we can,” Cancio said. – Rappler.com