CEO Q&A: Shazi Visram, HappyFamily (Extended)

Shazi Visram, CEO of HappyFamily, a premium organic food brand, speaks with Danielle Drolet about standing out and targeting new demographics.

Shazi Visram, CEO and founder of HappyFamily, a premium organic baby and toddler food brand, talks with Danielle Drolet about standing out from the increasingly crowded organic market, its recent expansion into new demographics, and more.

Being a brand that is heavily rooted in living sustainably, how do you deliver that message to your customers beyond your products?
Our brand is based on educating our consumers and making sure they're armed with all the information they need to make healthy, sustainable choices for their kids. We're trying to be a partner so they can make decisions that impact our environment and also leave the world a better place for their children as they grow.

Our communications are based around purity of purpose. We communicate our mission across all the channels we have access to, such as our retailers, including Whole Foods and Target, and directly to our consumers, including our moms that we dialogue with. We do that in person, as well as online. It's about making sure we maintain that purity of purpose throughout all of our messaging.

We try to make use of every venue we have. We have a very active community of Facebook fans. We have almost 40,000 subscribers for our own quarterly newsletter. We actively dialogue with moms on Twitter. Beyond that, we have a group of moms who actually work for us across the country. We have 50 moms who are part time and out there actually having in-person points of contacts with other mothers in the space. We find that to be really special because they can have a personal connection to the brand. These days, it's important to have a very deep social presence online, but it also continues to be important to have a true personal connection with your consumers.

In the last decade, organically produced foods and beverages have become increasingly prevalent on store shelves.  What measures are being taken to differentiate HappyFamily from the rest?
When it comes to sustainability, packaging is really important. Every decision we make as a business is meant to really focus on what's right for our consumers, whether it's based on the formulations, as well as making the right packaging choices. All of our packaging is made from recycled content.

You recently launched a year-long campaign called Generation Happy through a video contest on Facebook to spread the importance of eating organically. Why was it important to use social media as the platform?
Social media gives us so much additional access. We did Generation Happy as a way to create more interaction between our moms and our brand and to continue to build buzz and loyalty with our current consumers, as well as create the chance for potential consumers to know us.

It's a really fun thing to have a campaign around happiness, as well as a way to have other moms speak and share their funny moments and videos that really highlight the happiness that's happening in their homes on a daily basis with their children. We wanted it to be a very inclusive campaign. Using social media really allows for it to be very inclusive.

HappyFamily, which marked its fifth anniversary this past May on Mother's Day, has grown steadily since its founding. How will your communications meet the opportunities and challenges of a burgeoning business?
We need to continue effectively engaging with our consumers in every form possible and using all the technology and the tools available to us –traditional, online, in-store, and presence at events occurring across the country with moms who are seeking ways to be part of their own communities and have different things to do with their children.

Within the organization, we have a very strong internal marketing team. We're always thinking of ways to combine our efforts with the 50 happy moms pounding the pavement. We then work with AOR Formula PR to come together and collaborate on different and new ideas that can set us apart from other options in our market.

There certainly are many brands out there and it's becoming a crowded marketplace. However, the beauty of what we've created is that we have this inspired team of people who are excited about sharing the purity of our purpose.

The brand recently rolled out two new products, HappyMorning and HappySqueeze, securing your entrance into the teen and adult market. What is your communications strategy for this new audience?
We are moving into creating products that are great for the whole family. We've had so much success with our baby and toddler line simply because people recognize the uniqueness of our formulations by using ingredients such as salva, probiotics, and DHA, and pushing the boundaries of nutrition. It has allowed us to really create more sophisticated flavor profiles than what we would do for babies and toddlers, and make that more accessible to everyone. To spread the word, we're going to use our existing channels, but we're also creating a new website with videos for HappySqueeze that's really focused on messaging the product for everyone.

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