Brownie Brittle – An old fashioned digital success story

It’s one of those success stories we all love to hear about – lady turns baking hobby into multi-million dollar brand – but one we hear less and less in this tech obsessed world. But that’s exactly what is behind a new chocolate snack that is selling 30million units in America, competing against both established cookie and chocolate mega brands .

Brownie Brittle was founded by Shelia Mains after she lost her corporate job. She started by supplying brownies to restaurants, club stores and theme parks (they still supply brownies for Disney). It was a bumpy business to be in, but as often happens with innovation, she stumbled ‘by accident’ on a game-changing insight: staff at the bakery loved snacking on the crispy bits round the edge of the baking trays. In a flash of inspiration Brownie Brittle was born.

So, how did Shelia succeed in such a competitive market:

  • Distinctive Identity: having visually strong standout packaging on shelf has been a significant driver of sales in such a competitive market. Sheila tells of several packaging iterations before she ‘got it right’. The name is an ‘ownable descriptor’ – it does what it says on the pack – no layers of explanation needed in the communication, people get it right away.
  • Real Product Truth: Its very rare these days to find a corner of the chocolate world that hasn’t been covered by one of the major brand’s innovations, but that’s exactly what Sheila did. People really do love the crispy bits round the edge of their brownies and can’t easily get them anywhere else.
  • On Trend: The fact that these are not full size brownies, but just thin crispy slices of the ‘edge’ means that they are 120 calories per 1oz serving – far less than chocolate. Shelia herself was surprised that this was a selling point “If someone had said, ‘You want to put this out as a low-calorie snack and focus on that,’ I would have probably been hesitant to do that initially because I didn’t want people to think this was a diet food,” she told Food Business News. “It’s just a rich indulgent snack that wasn’t going to kill your calorie count for the day.” This simple reduction in calories, whilst maintaining true chocolate taste, means it matches people’s desire to eat more healthily but without compromise. This has helped them get the best kind of endorsement for a chocolate snack – from Weight Watchers!

  • Digital Savvy Launch: The product and brand truth may be the stuff of 100 years ago, but the way it has been marketed is not. Sheila and her team targeted ‘socially savvy eaters’ through social media channels with lots of video content about her product, charity work and celebrity admirers. Sheila herself is a great spokesperson for her brand – she loves talking chocolate! They agreed a Hollywood partnership with The Weinstein Company that enables product giveaways at premieres and award shows like this one, as well as a recent tie-in with family movie Paddington. There is a Youtube channel featuring recipe treats made with Brownie Brittle, and they actively engage with consumers on Facebook and Twitter.

Summary

Shelia’s success shows that some things don’t change: with a great product, distinctive packaging and clear relevant proposition you can create real success. Digital marketing is then a way to ‘amplify’ the mix to make it even more effective. I fully expect these packs of deliciousness to turn up in stores around the world pretty soon, so watch out – Shelia G. is coming!

 

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