After meeting Richard Lassalle, owner and creator of Entube, at the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show, we brought back samples to our staff and they fell. in. LOVE.
The branding and packaging are attractive, clean and a little rebellious. The flavors are delicious and pack a punch. And finally, the idea that you can tote these to a restaurant or an unknowing friend’s dinner party to jazz up a dish is genius.
We never knew we could get so excited from a tube of condiments, so we had to follow up with Richard. Why did he start? What challenges has he faced in marketing? What’s worked in marketing? And what comes next in Entube’s future?
What is Entube?
Gourmet, healthy food products in a convenient tube.
What made you start this company?
I’ve been in marketing and branding all my life. I was in the live-action television commercial and music video worlds and everything from Nike to H&M and Target. I’ve made everyone else look good for 20 years, but it was time for my own adventure. I was a lifelong foodie since childhood, but about 4.5 years ago, I mixed in my Harissa for dinner at a family reunion. My brother said, “Hey. Why don’t you stick this in a tube?” And I thought, “Huh. I could stick that in a tube.”
Tell us more about Harissa in a tube.
Food in tubes in Europe is a huge, billion-dollar business. Harissa is a favorite of mine; when I started this, there were two Harissas on the market in the United States. Sriracha was the main sauce there at the time, and I thought Harissa would be a great start to get into the US.
Tubes are convenient; it’s easy commerce. It’s not glass. It’s lightweight. From an e-commerce perspective, it’s incredibly efficient. I got these shiny aluminum tubes, and my mates said they look like a car — a sleek, beautiful, iconic and precious piece of prototype design.
I also thought a tube would be so convenient. Usually, with full-sized items, you take a scoop, put a cap on and it goes moldy.
So the design of the tube makes a lot of sense now with that story. It does have a sleek automobile feel. The flavor and branding are great, so it seems like it’s an easy sell, but tell us more about your challenges – then and now? How did you get it out in the market?
The number of tubes produced to be cost-effective was challenging at first. Changing out designs, ingredients and the flexibility of change was challenging. It was intentional to go through a tube. That was the biggest initial challenge.
When I’d bring it to a store, they’d love the packaging. Then they’d try the paste, and it’s absolutely delicious. Then, they love the ingredients. It’s healthy, superfood-oriented and good for you.
What I’ve learned is that the product sells itself. We did a deal with Plated and made mini-tubes so they went out to 300,000 households across America. Online sales on Amazon started to increase. The response was absolutely terrific.
Where were your products available at that time, distribution-wise, other than Amazon?
We were in 1,000 stores across America and had www.entube.la.
Now, we’re on page one of Amazon. We keep our keywords and marketing up to date.
I came into the business very innocent, so I set my standards high. For example, the color is just as important as the flavor, and how and why people use it. The color is complementary, thanks to turmeric and paprika. It’s not just slapping a burger in your gob. We’re trying to be disrupters, with the intention of going mainstream.
Sales catapulted through social media, influencers, Plated and a call from Martha Stewart, but the discovery starts with little specialty stores. They may not sell as much as the big retailers, but it’s the people who go to these stores that make the difference.
The trick to it is having the people discover the product and become champions of the brand. Then it’s their thing they promote.
It sounds like you’ve had a lot of success, which is great for a new specialty food brand, but what’s your next big goal or undertaking?
Launching two more commercial products since our current ones are fairly niche. We’re looking to generate more income off of more understandable products so we’re starting with organic hot mustard & tomato paste. Mustard is a more crowded space, but we’ve already gotten our name out. We’ll be lowering our price point since we’re a little exclusive right now.
Speaking of rebels, what are some examples of experimental marketing you do?
One of our biggest concepts for packaging and branding is a box with informative info — a piece of art. You’ll only see a tiny picture of something with a descriptor underneath it. We like creating images that attract attention, and then people being informed due to the bit of info on the package. It’s more about not wasting precious space explaining the product.
Also, we have a digital tech printer. We can make 100,000 tubes with 100,000 designs. It’s extraordinary. We’ll have infinite designs going, so you’ll never get the same one twice. Even though they’re disposable, they’re like an art collection.
From the beginning, Richard had a vision and executed it with numerous innovative ways to engage with consumers. It all started with a differentiating look, followed by flavor and a unique concept. (While humble Richard won’t say this out loud, we’ll do it for him.)
They say it’s what’s on the inside that matters the most, but let’s be honest. In the world of consumer packaged goods, what’s on the outside matters first. Toting an Entube is cool, almost fashionable. The flavor inside is a bonus surprise.
If your brand needs inspiration or you just want to “ooh” and “ahh” over a tube of chili paste, browse through entube.la to see their line-up of products.