In just 12 months, overnight oats brand The Good Grain has gone from giving away batches in London for free, to taking repeat orders from clients across London and beyond. How did they manage it?
The Good Grain makes its overnight oats by soaking the ancient grain in cashew milk to produce a creamy porridge that is rich in ‘Oat-Gum’. It’s this by-product that aids digestion and promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria, turning something that is delicious paired with nut butters, fruits, seeds and other natural flavourings into something of a superfood.
Jubilee Fox has long been an advocate for the health benefits of oats and when Covid-19 lockdowns left her friends feeling lethargic, she made them overnight oats to boost their energy levels. As positive feedback turned into requests from strangers, she realised she was offering something delicious and in demand that went beyond the basic overnight oats that were already available in shops.
And so, The Good Grain was born.
The Three Leaps of Faith Jubilee took in Year One
In Jubilee’s eyes, “there is no such thing as being ‘ready’ to promote your brand” and any positive publicity is a bonus, regardless of what stage your business is at.
She wasted no time seeking publicity, but rather than using her limited funds to pay a PR agency, she chose to research journalists writing about new food brands who she could pitch to over email or through social media.
Her efforts paid off and she secured features in magazines including BBC Good Food and Stylist, newspaper The Metro and trade title The Grocer, which included the company in a round-up of up-and-coming brands.
On a whim in her first month of operation, she also entered The Good Grain into the Nourish Awards, which judges new food products by how nutritious they are and attracts industry names like All Plants.
To her amazement she won Gold in two categories, giving her the confidence to move forward and affording The Good Grain a level of credibility that made it more attractive to the journalists and influencers she approached.
‘There is no such thing as being ‘ready’ to promote your brand.’
Jubilee credits the publicity she achieved early on with helping to make consumers more receptive to the idea of trying her product. It’s an approach that is rooted in human psychology, she tells us, and the theory that gradual exposure can influence customer behaviour in the subtlest of ways.
“If someone walks into the supermarket and sees a new product they haven’t of heard of, they probably won't 'trust' it. The next week they might walk past and 'glimpse' it. The week after they might pick it up, check it out and put it back. The next week they might purchase it.”
That’s why it paid to get The Good Grain’s name out there early, says Jubilee, because by the time she’d established a “much more put-together brand”, prospective customers were more familiar with the brand and therefore more likely to make a purchase.
To test out the initial viability of her business, Jubilee didn’t need to create a fully-fledged brand. She just needed something that would identify the business to the stockist and consumer and could be created quickly and easily. Canva provided the template for her logo, which she printed onto labels for free using printlabels.com.
From there she sought the help of a few freelance designers, who helped her build a basic brand that she could confidently present to stockists, but it was only when she was six months in that she had the cash-flow to bring in a professional brand agency to take her business to the next level.
‘This was my way of saying this isn’t just a hobby, I’m all in and manifesting for it to be a success.’
They worked with Jubilee to understand what her brand was about, crafting a strategy, brand identity and bespoke font for The Good Grain that will remain in use for years to come.
Choosing to pay for an agency’s services and expertise was a key juncture for Jubilee, as it was her way of confirming to herself that “this [wasn’t] just a hobby” and that she was “all in and manifesting for it to be a success.”
To establish whether her business idea was worth pursuing, Jubilee took a week off work to make a batch of flavours and asked friends and family to rate each one out of 10. Her focus group provided the evidence she needed to pitch select flavours to stockists.
She went first to Artichoke, a speciality greengrocer in north-west London, with nothing more than a brand name, her product and a clear idea of how her jars of overnight oats would fit into their product range. They would work well alongside their freshly made juices, she reasoned, because they too offered the quick and healthy fix that people browsing these shelves might be after.
It worked. Artichoke asked for 50 by the next morning and after putting it on their Instagram, had sold out by 12pm. From there, Jubilee approached similar stores across London and continued to expand via word-of-mouth.
The twist in the tale
It wasn’t only grocery stores that wanted to stock Jubilee’s products. She also saw demand from offices, who heard about the healthy breakfasts she was hawking and wanted them for their workers.
“The appeal is that it’s something that can be eaten quickly, but still has a nutritious and decadent feel to it. Employers know people got used to working from home, so they want to offer new perks that lure them back into the office and make them feel looked after.
‘If you spot an opportunity, you must act fast or someone will beat you to it.’
“So many corporate employees don’t eat or drink properly during working hours because they’re glued to their desk. They might have a quick 10-minute break where they'll scoff a sugary energy drink or the first sandwich they see from Costa, but what they really need to be at their most productive and energised is something that is ready to eat, keeps them full for hours and makes them feel good.”
“To have a chance of success in the FMCG [Fast-moving consumer goods] industry, you need to have the energy to keep up with it. New trends are constantly emerging, so if you spot an opportunity, you must act fast or someone will beat you to it.”