Welcome to Brand Growth Heroes!
I’m your host Fiona Fitzpatrick , and I’m a brand-growth consultant on a mission: to explore the drivers behind the transformational growth of some wildly successful start-up brands in consumer goods categories around the world.
In Series 1 we’re going to focus on the insurgent brands driving transformational growth in the global food industry. What do I mean by insurgent brands? The worldwide consultancy Bain and Company defines insurgent brands as those that are rewriting the growth playbook, outpacing their category growth rate and capturing more than their fair share of growth. I’d add that insurgent brands are transformational, dramatically changing what their category looks like, how it’s shopped, the types of products in it, and shopper’s expectations of what they can buy and how they can access it. Think Halo Top, Dollar Shave Club, Amazon Fresh & Chobani.
My mission to understand the drivers behind the growth of insurgent brands started 20 years ago, when I was working at Nestle UK Headquarters in London. After learning a huge amount working in brand management, category management, sales and innovation, across many household brands, and for some really super bosses, I was lucky enough to lead a c-suite project team looking at how to step-change Nestle’s growth across its entire UK portfolio. it was at this point that I became really aware of brands such as Innocent Smoothies and Gu chocolate puds, which were part of the first cohort of insurgent food brands in the UK, and really the first to become what I call “Brand Celebrities”.
I was fascinated by their magnetism and appeal, both from a product and brand perspective, but I also wanted to go and work for them! I left Nestle UK after 8 years, and having learned a huge amount about classical brand and category management, managing processes and people, and how a large organisation works…but also about how a large organisation can struggle to drive organic growth, and what steps they explore to address this
I joined Gü Chocolate Puds (https://www.gupuds.com/) to launch their superb range of decadent Belgian chocolate desserts into the supermarket channel in France, and rather than going through a distributor, ended up setting up a real French company. I drove the business from a small Parisian start-up, managed from a Starbucks and my hotel, to a multi-customer business across the entire of France with 8M euros sales at retail, a team of 15, and a great office in the Marais neighbourhood of paris.
Working at Gü gave me the opportunity to learn from a real Brand Growth Hero, James Averdieck, the founder of Gü Chocolate puds. From James I learned never to think about things in a classical fashion, but always to think laterally. Whether it was about how we used the tiny marketing resources we had, who to recruit and who should be in which role, or clever ways of thinking around our huge logistic challenges delivering and selling across the entire country of France, my thinking evolved more under James than it ever had before. Speaking with him recently about the types of people he tends to employ, whether that was for Gü or for his current company, The Coconut Collaborative, he shared that employing young people who have a solid background in a bigger company but an ability to think creatively, flexibly and act quickly, can be a real strength for a start up.
Once Gü was bought out by Noble Foods, a UK poultry & egg company, I left to set up my own business. For the past 10 years I’ve worked with branded food companies from all around the world, developing both their growth strategies and developing the capabilities of the teams that are going to deliver on them.
I’ve collected observations across small and large food start-ups, whether that be at Chobani (the fastest growing American yogurt brand with over 1BN worth of sales) to Strong Roots (the fastest growing UK food brand, with just over £10M), or over 100 start-ups in the various incubator and accelerator programmes I work with…and the same drivers of growth keep coming up. I’ve defined them as the New 4Ps of Transformational Growth, and intend to use this podcast series to explore them even further. I’m hoping that by talking to founders of insurgent brands or key members of their teams, I’ll develop refine my understanding and thinking further, and hopefully offer you plenty of thought provoking growth stories along the way.
So what are the New 4Ps of Transformational Growth that we’re going to explore? Well, tune in to Episode 2 where I’ll take you through my thinking so far…