Making Customers the Key Ingredient at Ella’s Kitchen
“Building our Besties community has transformed the way we use insight at Ella’s. The long term partnership was a new way of working, but it’s paid us back a hundredfold…”
Category: CPG (FMCG)
Product: Organic baby and toddler food
Key Markets: UK, China, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany & USA
Market Share: 30% (UK baby food)
Global Turnover: $121m
C Space Client Since: 2015
Organic baby and toddler food company Ella’s Kitchen is growing, fast. Since founder Paul Lindley launched the brand in 2006, Ella’s has become the UK’s number one baby food, and operations have expanded globally into more than 40 countries. But all that growth presents new brand challenges. Ella’s needed to rethink the way it engaged with global customers and retailers while building on the brand’s founding philosophy of “kids first.”
Placing faith in C Space, Ella’s Kitchen bet its entire research budget that its customers (and their kids) would be just the source of inspiration and innovation the company was looking for. Together, they’d help Ella’s stay relevant, become truly customer-inspired, and grow.
How We Cracked It
Ella’s and C Space engaged with parents and their little ones in an online community of 300 “Besties.” These highly engaged mums and dads were always ready and willing to let us into their lives, have a chat, or help out with a business challenge.
What We Achieved Together
Customers’ lives and ideas have totally transformed the fast-growing Ella’s Kitchen. Our 300 Besties have made more than 61,000 contributions in the community on 18 different projects. Across business departments – including Ella’s Executive Board – employees regularly consult with the Besties to test assumptions, get feedback and ideas, and make better business decisions.
Melty Sticks, a product innovation cooked up entirely by the Besties, is now one of Ella’s strongest performing SKUs.
Since launch, the Besties have helped Ella’s reposition and redesign its entire snacking range – resulting in a significant uplift in sales.
Community insights have helped Ella’s strengthen existing retailer relationships, create new ones, enter new markets, and expand in existing geographies.
Co-creating a best-selling SKU
“The insight behind Melty Sticks, the concept, the packaging, everything was informed by our Besties. And that’s why we think they’ve been so successful”
Victoria Harrison, Makes Friendly Stuff (Product Manager)
Conversations with the Besties revealed a gap in the toddler snack food market. “Project Little Fingers” helped Ella’s Kitchen understand parents’ changing needs around healthy snacks for their little ones. Their insights led to a new product called Melty Sticks, a healthy breadstick alternative.
Today, Melty Sticks are one of Ella’s best-selling SKUs. And it was the Besties who informed every stage of product development – from first identifying the opportunity, to consulting on flavors, packaging, product positioning, and even listing support.
CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDING & MARKET ENTRY
Inspiring international retailers
“This project completely changed our international strategy and how we approached what products we launched into which markets”
Anna Currie, Makes Friendly Stuff Around the World (International Product Manager)
Ella’s Kitchen have ambitious plans to grow presence and market share across key markets – and Besties members help support many of these expansion opportunities.
Ella’s partnered with C Space to complete the biggest market understanding study the brand had ever commissioned. A series of in-market ethnographies and online community conversations helped Ella’s surface deep insight and understanding in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Ella’s launched their ‘Mega Mix’ of 30 products, best suited to local market needs. This insight-led approach prompted retailers to list all 30 SKUs – an unprecedented achievement for the business.
When launching the brand in Germany (a brand new geography), the team at Ella’s wanted to make sure they had a deep understanding of the needs, rituals, routines and occasions of parents across the market.
We worked together to set up in-language communities to explore the landscape – and build really strong recommendations for retailers, based on an in-depth understanding of customers & their lives.
Off the back of this work, Ella’s were able to secure listing of 8 SKUs in over 1,000 stores across Germany.
Placing customers at the heart of everything Ella’s do
“The Besties approach is phenomenal… It brings us so much closer to our consumers, which in today’s world is absolutely essential”
Mark Cuddigan, Head of Ella’s Kitchen
The Ella’s Kitchen Besties community is the heart of the business. It’s an always-on, real-time, keep-it-real place for insight, ideas, and inspiration. Best of all, Besties build relationships with each other; starting their own conversation threads on everything from feeding schedules to on-the-go eating tips is common.
There’s no substitute for being there, so everyone at Ella’s has the opportunity to go on a “Playdate” and spend time with families at their homes. This one-on-one time builds customer empathy, creates a common bond amongst employees, and is perhaps the best way to see the world from the customer’s perspective.
Meet Our Besties
Get in touch with our team
We couldn’t do any of this without such an amazing team at Ella’s Kitchen. Thanks for believing in us, for letting us bring the customer voice into The Barn (Company HQ) and most importantly, thanks for all the fun along the way.