Tom was a city worker fed up of unhealthy and unbalanced breakfast options. Spotting this gap in the market he started a sampling activity of a homemade oat recipe at Waterloo station. One converted filing cabinet, an old BT van, and a railway arch later, MOMA sold its first breakfast to the City of London’s commuters. 11 years later, MOMA is stocked in supermarkets, stations, online and coffee shops across the UK.
We spoke to Tom about how he developed the MOMA brand and how other breakfast product brands can position themselves effectively in an ever-growing market.
1) How can a business clearly define their target market?
I think anyone setting up a business has, even subconsciously, their target market in mind. For example, with us, I thought: ‘there’s a real gap in the market for a healthy, filling breakfast’ – or they might come up with the product first, which is a product-focused business or brand. But subconsciously, they’ll always have the target market in mind for that product. It’s really crucial that your messaging, your branding and packaging, as well as the product, are all focused towards the target market.
If you can get sales data that tells you who’s actually buying the products then that’s the best you can get; for example, with one of our grocery customers, they’ve got a loyalty program so you can really understand who’s buying what, male or female, what age they are, whether they like premium or mainstream, whether they are buying for quality, speed and convenience or because they have a big family, that sort of thing. So whilst you might think you know what your market, there’s no replacement for the data that shows exactly who is buying your product.
2) How can brands position themselves effectively?
The first thing is understanding who your target market its, but then digging into what media channels they use, what resonates with them. Then it really informs the media channels you choose to use, what the messages are and what people respond to there. For example, we’re trying to do a lot on Facebook advertising at the moment, so we need to make sure our target market is on Facebook. We do a lot of AB testing so we can start to understand what creatives and messages people respond to. Exactly the same thing applies to other advertising channels. If you’re advertising in a magazine, your target’s going to be reading that magazine. If you’re advertising on the tube, your target market will be travelling on the tube.
3) How are blogs a useful tool?
The great things about blogs, especially if they’ve been built up organically (which most blogs have) is that they’ve got authenticity to them. People really believe what is written in blogs because it’s an individual that’s really authentic and putting their heart into everything. They could have a small following or a large following but generally it’s got that authenticity behind it.
4) Are there any consumer trends when it comes to breakfast choices?
The main trends in breakfast are exactly the same things that we set out 12 years ago to cater for; a healthy, filling, fast breakfast. Health and wellness continues to be at the forefront of what people want. Finding something filling is actually the highest growing need, people are no longer being taken by faddy diets quite as much, they want a breakfast that’s genuinely going to fill them up and give them that sustenance during the morning. Convenience will continue to grow and become really important for people. People are busy, they’ve always been busy; but the more easily they can access those convenient products, the better.
In terms of specific things, we are also seeing a growth in veganism at the moment, which is mostly being pushed from an ethical viewpoint – though there are an increasing number of people going vegan from a health standpoint. There’ll be an increasing number going from a sustainable and environmental point of view, too. So whilst we’re definitely not a vegan or free-from brand, it is a strong arm to what we’re doing and we’ll be looking at product development in that sector.
5) What has been your biggest business lesson so far?
There’ve been a couple of big changes we’ve made to the business as we’ve gone along, so from a big business perspective, right at the beginning we were focused on stalls in train stations, selling our products to consumers as they made their way to work. So there’s a retail consumer-facing model to the business. At the same time, we started developing a more traditional Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) model, supplying our products to other retailers, so we had these two parallel business models going at one stage. We then decided to stop the stores in the train stations, a total of 9 stores, so we closed down a whole half of the business. Then fast-forward a few years, we changed our product focus from Bircher muesli (which is a starting product where we still lead the UK market) to porridge being our main focus as a brand, so there have been two major shifts in a business. So focusing down on to branding and design specifically, we’ve had 4 or 5 design projects over the years but two specific ones on the Bircher muesli and on the brand generally, so 2010-15 there were two quite major changes to the brand. I think getting the brand and the design and the packaging right is crucial and it’s really hard if you’re not naturally in tune with that type of thing to get it right. One thing I would say to any brand owners out there is to really trust your gut on this and make sure you’re really happy with what an agency is recommending to you.