Enter KOSI, a leading Solomons company that’s been producing coconut products (like body scrubs and delish virgin coconut oil) for 20 years. KOSI exists to improve Village livelihoods by investing in local production. And they’ve just added a new product range made from locally grown and manufactured coco; including the Solomons’ first homemade drinking chocolate.
Sarah jetted over to KOSI HQ to help co-founder Colin, product manager Maureen, and Bob with product testing, customer research, packaging design and rollout. KOSI are working in partnership with Strongim Bisnis, an Australian Government initiative helping Solomons businesses prosper.
Creating a Healthier Alternative
The goal was to create a local, healthier alternative to popular products like Milo, which come in single-serve sachets that are mixed with powdered milk and a bunch of other preservatives. KOSI drinking chocolate will also come in single sachets, but inside is organically grown sugar and cocoa, and that’s it. All locally produced.
We wanted to know what kind of design would appeal most to local customers. So we worked with a Solomons team to come up with six variations of the new KOSI sachets, each one with a different label.
Designing for Local Customers
Some designs were bright and had borders, others had the Solomon Island flag on it, which we had a sneaking suspicion would work best with our nationally proud audience. But before we got to the label, we needed to know if the term ‘drinking chocolate’ meant anything to our customers. Or did they simply call it Milo? Was it a hot or cold drink in the Solomons? All the big burning questions.
Sarah trained the KOSI team on the fundamentals of customer research: data collection, interviewing, setting up a research booth and tasting station, and coordinating prototypes. Once everyone felt ready, the team chose a role: host, technician, tasting or brand researcher. Next, it was time to hit the shops.
The two phase research booth
Phase 1. Blind-tasting
- 2 x KOSI products
- 2 x competitor products
- All products were mixed up and drunk by participants. We recorded everybody’s feedback on taste and texture.
Phase 2. Brand perception
- 6 x sachet designs
- All six variations of the KOSI sachets were presented. Participants were asked about preferred colours, imagery and price perceptions
Here are some things they learned:
- Locals mix Milo with hot water, not milk!
- Getting attention from passersby was easy. The booth was new and exciting and many people stopped to join in
- Getting detailed feedback was challenging, as many of the people surveyed were unfamiliar with customer research formats. Plus Sarah doesn’t speak Pigin, which is the local language. So some of the feedback got lost
- The KOSI product samples were higher in coco than the competitors, which was an unfamiliar flavour among the participants. Many considered the taste too rich
- Sarah thought the Solomon Islands had a sweeter palette compared to Australia
- Parents were looking for a healthier alternative to Milo, which was fantastic news
- Locals are really proud of where they come from and loved seeing their flag on the sample packaging
We’re so grateful to the KOSI and Strongim Bisnis team for welcoming Sarah into the community. And very keen to see some KOSI drinking chocolate on the shelves soon.
Stay tuned for more on the Strongim Bisnis + KOSI journey.