Layton Mills is the co-founder of a company called "The Tanlay Food Group". Their special product is a lactose free UHT flavoured milk called Cranky Cow. We have conducted a short interview with him:
How will you market your product or educate consumers on the different milk offerings available?
Educating a consumer is very hard because a person will only seek to learn something new if they really want to. So you can’t make them learn if they aren’t ready, and forcing someone is just detrimental to your brand. So instead of educating them on the different options they have available and why we feel ours is better, we just try to show consumers that we are an honest, fun brand. We aren’t a multi-national and we actually care about our product and our consumers and that’s why we decided to make it lactose free, so everyone can enjoy it. We try to offer value to our consumers though humour and honesty. We aren’t going to lie to you about why we are better or how we are better, because in truth it’s down to the consumer to decide which flavoured milk they prefer. You can’t say something tastes better because everyone is different. What we do instead, is lay the facts out on the table and concentrate on creating a really cool, fun brand that people can relate to. Then leave it up to the people to make their own choices.
What is the common misconception about lactose free milk?
The common misconception about lactose free milk is that “Something’s missing”. Without even knowing what lactose is, the consumer perception is that if it’s “Lactose free” it’s not as good. I think this stems from the whole “Sugar free” concept. Now consumers see the “Free” word and assume it’s an inferior product. That isn’t the case at all. Lactose is just a form of sugar that more than 25% of the population can’t digest. This causes discomfort, stomach pains and gas. In Asia, up to 90% of consumers are lactose intolerant. It’s very common. So what we do, is simply convert lactose into a much simpler form of sugar which is glucose. This allows the body to break it down just like it would any other sugar. So really, all we are doing is just removing the lactose and making the product sweeter and this actually leaves you with a better tasting product.
How is Cranky Cow going to change the consumer perception?
We want to do it with humour. That’s how the “Cranky Cow” was developed. He is a character that was created by us. He has a whole back story. The Cranky Cow was born with lactose intolerance, so he couldn’t drink milk from his mother without getting stomach cramps. And because of this he became very cranky. It’s a character that people can relate to. Like a brand ambassador. But it’s not just about lactose intolerance. We all get Cranky. We all have a cranky side and the same things annoy us. Bad walkers, Slow drivers, Telephone companies, banks, people that don’t close their mouths when they chew. These are all things that we have in common. So “The Cranky Cow” is a part of us all. So it’s not necessarily about changing consumer perception, it’s more about relating to people as a brand and through that, we hope consumers will choose to learn more about us. And once they try the product, they can see for themselves that ours is just as good, if not better, than anyone else on the market.
How did you become a co-founder of the "Tanlay Food Group"?
I started a company called DJS Enterprises and released a carbonated beverage called “Vida Sparkling Vitamin Water”. I was finding it hard to compete in the market with little funding so Tania Vidovic joined the team as an investor. We then had the opportunity to produce this milk and decided to put Vida on the backburner and started that Tanlay Food Group to produce our milk as a partnership between the two of us. (Tan for Tania and Lay for Layton)
So will Vida be back?
Definitely. We created TFG to develop products that were in demand, as opposed to creating a product and then trying to create a demand for it, which is typically how things are in this industry. We talk regularly with our distributors and have great communication which is important to finding out firsthand what store owners and consumers are saying. Vida was a product that we tried to create a demand for instead of listening to what people wanted and while it was accepted in the marketplace, we felt that it wasn’t the right product. So we will sit down with our distributors after the launch of Cranky Cow and look at what consumers really want, and see what’s missing in the market. So you will definitely see Vida back soon, but it may be a different product, who knows.
What’s next for Cranky Cow? And what’s next for The Tanlay Food Group?
Initially we just want to launch successfully into the market and get a good foothold in stores. We have already partnered up with some of Australia’s best privately owned distributors. Distribution is key and it’s important to have the right people pushing your brand. Following the launch of our initial two flavours, we have a strawberry that we will have ready for release in 2013. We just want to focus on creating a really good brand around The Cranky Cow. We want to develop a special relationship with our consumers based on honesty and fun. We may not have the money that these massive corporations have to promote, but we see that as an advantage. We are just like the consumers who are drinking our milk. So our job is to relate to them on a more personal level. The product comes second, it’s the brand that people ultimately decided to support.
And we have some aces up our sleeve for The Tanlay Food Group. We have a couple of other fantastic products that are almost ready to roll out, but we’ll focus on one product at a time.