It’s been a quite a successful run for Mamma Chia during its first year and a half. The first to market chia drink went national with UNFI only eight months after its initial launch and quickly established a solid footing in major natural retailers including Whole Foods, Sprouts and Wegmans. The brand, which counts Honest Tea TeaEO Seth Goldman and Guayaki co-founder Chris Mann as investors and advisors, is also distributed by Tree of Life and Nature’s Best and sold in hundreds of small and independent natural foods stores across the country. With a deep and wide presence within the natural channel – and chia on the verge of mainstream acceptance – Mamma Chia is setting its sights on crossover into hybrid and conventional grocery stores in 2012.
At Mamma Chia’s busy booth at Natural Products Expo West 2012, BevNET CEO John Craven spoke with Janie Hoffman, the founder and CEO of Mamma Chia about the brand and its rapid rise in the beverage world. Hoffman credited “a synergy” between curiosity, constant sampling, and the draw of a high nutritional value as the reason for Mamma Chia’s acceptance among new consumers.
“We know that people are pulling us off the shelf at first because we look so different,” Hoffman said. “Then they’ll try it, and [realize] that it tastes so good. It’s very unusual for something that’s this nutritious to taste this good.”
And while Hoffman initially expected Mamma Chia’s core consumer to resemble something like the slim, earthy image of the woman featured on Mamma’s Chia’s labels, it turns out that the brand has resonated with men just as well.
“Originally, we thought our core demographic was going to be that female LOHAS [Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability] consumer that’s socially and environmentally conscious,” Hoffman said. “We found out that, actually, that’s only 60 percent [of our base]. 40 percent of our consumers are men… it’s crossing over in a big way. It’s speaking to a broad range of folks.”
In this video interview, Hoffman delves into the world of Mamma Chia and explains how the company has approached advertising and marketing for the brand and why she is in favor of utilizing the mainstream media to educate new consumers on the benefits of chia. Hoffman also discusses the issue of bioavailability of whole chia seeds versus ground, a key point of differentiation from competitors’ use of the ingredient.