How to back new brands

26 May 2021, 07:06 AM
  • Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation tells Speciality Food why resilient small brands are poised to boost the profiles and the profits of retailers
How to back new brands

At Enterprise Nation, our job is to deliver support to help people to start and grow their own successful business. Over the past 12 months the majority of that support has been focused on supporting businesses to ‘do more online.’

Small businesses have pivoted and we have done the same. Education has been offered on how to connect with customers through social platforms, onboard onto delivery apps, and sell through powerful marketplaces. Small food and drink businesses have been amazing in their response but they are about to pivot again and are readying themselves for physical trade and the economic re-opening.

We are optimistic about the figure of £200bn that has been gathered in UK household savings, as this is a clear indicator of pent-up demand and spend. Research surveys and polls show a significant proportion of this spend will stay local as shoppers head to their nearest high street to once again enjoy the experience of physical retail, entertainment, and human company.

Brands that will thrive in this environment are those that have built strong online followings and fans during the pandemic. We expect customers will go in search of these brands and elect to buy from them in person – potentially whilst meeting the face behind the brand too. This spells opportunity for any stockist! In looking for new brands to stock, look for those who have sold well online and honed their digital skills over the past year, as well as those who come prepacked with purpose or values around sustainability.

Not only do customers want to buy local, they want to put money behind their values too. Let me illustrate the point through spotlighting three businesses we’ve been tracking at Enterprise Nation: The Woolf’s Kitchen came to our attention when founder, Dominique, pitched to Enterprise Nation’s Female StartUp of the Year competition.

This is an entrepreneur on a mission and I remain convinced it’s a business and brand to watch. With a background career in sales and then the music industry, Dominique started to make her Thai-inspired sauces and knew she was onto something when she took her first batch to a local farmers’ market and sold 250 bottles over two days.

Starting locally and launching the business in April 2020, Dominique has since expanded to be stocked in delis nationwide and is selling well on Amazon in the UK – and across the globe. Her digital footprint is now driving people in-store. Strp’ed’s Ayesha Grover discovered the health benefits of the ancient root vegetable, tigernut, while working in Nigeria.

She used that knowledge to create strp’d, a company providing nut, gluten and dairy-free flour and drinks. Connecting with customers across social has always been part of Ayesha’s plan: “I use Instagram and Facebook to build a community that I can regularly engage with. This involves posting content that I believe my target customer wants to see and gifting products to micro influencers to share on their own channels. I try and get creative with sampling and the most successful sampling campaign I have run has been on Sweatcoin, a platform that allows you to earn coins based on the steps you walk and use those coins to redeem products including strp’d.”

Online connections are likely to lead to physical sales. When it became illegal in England to supply plastic straws, this opened a gap in the market for Maxim Gelmann, founder of pasta straw maker, Stroodles. Maxim has created “lovingly engineered, super smooth, naturally golden” pasta straws that are 100% biodegradable, remain strong for at least an hour, and are entirely flavourless.

“Our entire mission as a brand is rooted in sustainability, creating eco-friendly, uncompromising alternatives to everyday items, starting with our pasta straws. We are not just another straw company – we are a movement! We’re a part of a larger global effort to change the way we consume and use products.”

These entrepreneurs – and thousands more like them – are keen to get back in the physical world and secure your orders. They will repay that custom through driving traffic into your stores from their large and engaged online communities, and through their clear values around sustainability and social purpose. In return, they are likely to want prompt payment terms – a must for any small business.

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