Sara Trechman, Co-Founder of healthy snack brand Well&Truly, explains what innovation means to her and what it means to embrace change…
How did Well&Truly start?
I set up Well&Truly with my sister-in-law Maria in 2015. We were both big snackers, but also health conscious, and felt let down by the types of snacks available, so we decided to create something better. We wanted to create a snack where we didn’t have to compromise on taste or health, but still felt satisfied at the end of it. So we set out to unjunk some of our favourite classic snacks. Our Loaded tortilla chips are like Doritos, but with 40% less fat and certified gluten free. The same goes for Crunchy, which is our version of Nik Naks! All our products have a maximum of six ingredients, whereas the average for savoury snacks is about fifteen.
What are you most proud of?
In February 2016 we went from having zero products on shelf to going live in over 1,000 Tesco stores. To this day that is still the proudest moment for us. That really tested everything in terms of our supply chain, the factory, getting orders back in time… Since then we’ve built an incredible team who have got us to 3,000 distribution points. Plus, we’ve just gone live in Sainsbury’s too, next to the checkout tills.
You recently rebranded. What triggered the change?
When we first launched Well&Truly, we were very much positioned as a Free From brand. But throughout the first year we saw that category changing, with more consumers buying into Free From not as a necessity but as a lifestyle choice. A lot of Free From products feel quite white and clinical, but actually our feedback was telling us that when consumers were buying a savoury snack they weren’t looking for that – they were looking for something that was going to deliver on flavour. We realised we needed to be positioned as a mainstream snack brand, and consumers wanted to be able to find us in the savoury snacks aisle or by the checkout tills. So we knew we needed to completely pivot the brand.
Tell us about the thinking behind the bold new look.
We wanted to come out with a new look and feel that would challenge the clean world of healthy eating and go against the outdated ‘guilty pleasures’ label of mainstream snacks. We spent a lot of time researching our consumers to understand the visual cues they were looking for when picking out snacks, and focused on those. People were craving familiar choices, and we wanted to give them a way to find the kind of thing they wanted, then select a healthy option, rather than the other way round. The health messaging became a secondary tick box.
The hardest part was the decision to go with a concept that made us feel uncomfortable. It would have been easier to go with a smaller change rather than a completely different look and feel, but we ended up being brave and going for black packaging, which is rare, with the wobbly font to bring it to life, helping consumers to focus on enjoyment. When we got the feedback we knew we’d made the right decision. Since then we’ve seen a 300% increase in sales.
What can big brands learn from a startup like Well & Truly?
You can’t be afraid of changing what you set out to do. If you look back at our original business plan, you could completely tear it up now, because we’re a totally different company to what we were planning to be. We launched really fast and gathered as many learnings as we could from consumers. We tweaked the old packaging multiple times and decided last year to pivot the brand completely. Big consumer goods businesses spend so much time planning, doing business cases, doing research, they end up being slow to launch, then they spend too long realising something’s not working. Even though we’re a small startup, we’ve realised we can have a big impact. Just think how annoying a mosquito is in your bedroom at night – that’s how disruptive a good startup can be.
What does innovation mean to you?
It’s about seeing a problem and trying to find a solution. The problem was that consumers were tired of niche healthy snacks like kale chips, and that’s how our concept came about. When we looked at the category there was a lot of negative tone of voice being used, and we decided to flip that over. Our premise became that you can have crisps as long as you choose a better choice. Presenting everything with a positive message has been an innovative way of communicating with consumers. The products themselves might not seem innovative, but we’re unjunking them – that’s what makes innovation.