Transparency and inclusivity are hot topics in business right now. And it’s not all dry (but important) topics like PSD2 and GDPR. For Bad Brownie - purveyors of the gooiest gourmet brownies and about as far away from dry as you can get - transparency and inclusivity are about loving customers. Founders Paz and Morag do that by sharing the brand story and making customers feel part of Bad Brownie’s future.
It’s not a new way to do business. But now, possibly more than ever before, knowing all about a brand’s history, mission, ethics and people, is right up there on the list of reasons why consumers decide to buy or not buy from a brand.
So, what can food and drink businesses, big and small, learn from the ‘bad’ brand that’s turned the humble chocolate brownie into tasty profits? Here are four top tips from Bad Brownie…
Founders Paz and Morag and worked together at a branding agency on a very well-known chocolate account, where they bonded over their love of the sweet treat. In 2013, they left to start up Bad Brownie, making brownies in their tiny flat kitchen and selling the gooey treats out of the back of Paz’s mum’s car.
“For all start-ups, it’s about spotting a gap in the market and going for it,” says Paz.
“In our case, that gap was that brownies hadn’t been brought up to date in the same way as say, cupcakes or donuts. People were just churning out traditional, non-challenging flavours with boring decoration and packaging.”
Far from boring or traditional, Bad Brownie boasts more than 15 incredible flavours, from bacon and maple syrup, to ginger, blueberry and lemon, and afternoon tea.
“It’s this reinvention of the original chocolate brownie that allows the business to thrive across five revenue channels, built up over just five years,” says Morag.
"We sell directly to consumers at five London markets, as well as pop-up stalls at music and food festivals. To businesses at trade events and offices for catering requirements, as well as online to UK and international customers, and to private clients for events like weddings and parties”, Paz adds.
They like to surprise and delight customers wherever they go, with bold, challenging flavours. And they don’t just sell in small, artisan-style batches. Paz informs us that ‘if you stacked up all the brownies Bad Brownie make each week, the tower would be taller than the Shard’.
This detail is important because they’ve learnt how to diversify and scale up quickly. And if there’s one thing that’s undisputed in the food and drink sector, it’s that things (and consumer demand for the new) evolve at lightning fast pace.
Think about the avocado revolution, the free-from movement, and the increasing popularity of vegan, sugar-free and dairy-free diets. It takes a strong food and drink brand to keep up with such rapid consumer education and interest in nutrition, and the scrutiny placed on everything from ingredients to preparation methods.
Bad Brownie tips to take away
It’s Bad Brownie’s solid ethos (that hasn’t changed since they first started out), incredible products and focus on giving customers excellent experiences that can convince people to spend £3.50 on a handmade, ethical (the chocolate they use is part of the Cocoa Horizons programme), preservative-free brownie. After all, they could easily get a pre-packed, factory made version full of unpronounceable ingredients for 50p, that’s a seventh of the price! It’s the challenge for any business in the ‘affordable luxury’ food and drink space.
And it’s a challenge Bad Brownie rise to, in part, by having Paz and Morag still so heavily involved day-to-day. Paz explains:
“At the start Morag and I were working 18 to 20-hour days, making and selling brownies and trying to build a business.
“Now, we’re still very much involved but in a very different way. We’re focused on expanding the business, on quality control and recipe development. We leave the making of the brownies to our incredible pastry chefs in our stunning kitchen in Forest Hill, South East London.”
For many businesses, not just in food and drink, the opportunity to grow like Bad Brownie lies in giving customers incredible experiences in one or more of these four areas:
Bad Brownie is all about number one - being authentic and transparent, and number three – building loyalty through exclusivity.
Share your tips for giving customers great experiences:
And look out for Bad Brownie’s brownie sundae cafés, coming soon…