I have previously referred to Fred Wilson’s pronouncement that “marketing is for companies with crappy products,” and what he means by that.

It’s very refreshing then to read an article about a company that really gets it right.

The July 15, 2015 issue of  Food Business News features an article (“Making insects inviting to eat“) about Chapul, and the company’s go-to-market strategy in introducing insects as a viable protein source in the Western diet.

I don’t know what Patrick Crowley’s (director/co-founder of Chapul) background is—he says he didn’t go to business school; maybe that’s a really good thing—but he groks the fundamentals of marketing:

Grasp a needs-driven opportunity, even if the market hasn’t yet caught on. It’s difficult or impossible to feed the world’s population sustainably and nutritionally given the current approach; at least is it’s practice in the West.

Develop a product for the opportunity that solves the need. Chapul has done its research and learned that insects (specifically crickets) are high in protein, can be cheaply and sustainably sourced, and are already an ingredient in the global diet.

Understand your market and audience. Chapul knows eating insects is a difficult sell in the U.S., but there there are audiences (segmentation!) receptive to the message.

Get others to market for you (Fred Wilson’s point). Chapul hasn’t received a lot of media attention, but it got the right attention in the right places, and now the message is being carried by varying strata of influencers: sustainability reporters; product converts; net promoters, etc. Remember, “Marketing is, and always has been, about influencing the influencer,” was the first marketing axiom I published.

I’m not sure if Chapul is starting a trend or latching on to one, but they’re definitely very early in the game. Challenges ahead all relate to supply chain and scalability (a bit of business school knowledge might help here, but they’re all easily predicted): procurement/availability/pricing (maybe even currency hedging), quality/safety, distribution/demand, alternate supply/country risk, etc.

And then it will be time to spend money on marketing.

It’ll be fun to watch, not just the company, but the space itself (public perception, new entrants, VC funding). Neat!

So, do read the article (link at top), not because it talks about eating insects, but because it’s simply a very good, well written go-to-market case study that addresses the modern core marketing principles highlighted here.

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