How to Start a Cookie Company
The global protein cookie market is set to be worth more than $42.54 billion annually by 2027. Supporting this growth is the increasing number of consumers shifting towards healthier snack alternatives to address their health and wellness concerns. Plus, cookies have become a big market share winner in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry, particularly during COVID. With cookie brands seeing an overall 5.2% market share increase, there has never been a better time to start your own protein cookie company.
But before your protein cookie company can take off, there are several things you need to do first. Here, we’ve outlined the key steps to building the framework of a successful protein cookie company.
1. Research the Market
Good news! Smaller cookie companies are continuing to win market share over big CPG brands. IRI data shows that the explosive growth that large brands have seen during COVID-19 has yet to materialize into long-term growth. Right now, large CPG brands are more focused on improving margins rather than responding to trends. So, there is plenty of room for innovative and nimble startups to enter and snatch market share away.
Knowing this, research the market to see how you can differentiate your protein cookie from the competition. A good place to start is to see the type of protein cookie that is most in-demand, growing in demand, or completely missing in growing markets, including keto, paleo, and plant-based categories. Take the time to research new ingredients, sustainable practices, and unique formulations that could set you apart from big corporate brands. Remember, innovation is a key competitive advantage for cutting-edge food entrepreneurs.
2. Formulate the Perfect Cookie Recipe
Now that you know what type of protein cookie you want, the next step is to formulate the perfect recipe. Today’s consumers are desiring better-for-you cookies that have added nutrition, so look into ingredients that offer functional benefits. Functional ingredients that work well with cookies include antioxidants, natural sweeteners, plant protein, adaptogens, MCT oil, and probiotics. Consumers are also looking for “leaner labels,” which means staying away from additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients.
Recipe formulation requires precise attention to detail, so consider working with a cookie co-manufacturer instead of formulating the recipe yourself. The right co-man will work with you to achieve a protein cookie formula that meets the nutritional needs of your target consumer. Plus, as plant-based, non-GMO, and other better-for-you claims continue to remain at the front of consumers’ minds, working with an experienced manufacturer will make sure any claims you make are in line with regulatory requirements laid out by the FDA.
3. Partner with the Right Protein Cookie Manufacturer
As your protein cookie business grows, you will need to scale your processes to keep up with demand. That’s why we recommend partnering with a cookie contract manufacturer. With full-service offerings ranging from recipe formulation to co-packing, a cookie co-manufacturer can help your business easily scale up with demand all the while maintaining the quality of your cookies. Not to mention, the right cookie manufacturer will make sure your business continues to maintain compliance with any regulatory organizations.
However, finding the “right” co-packer is easier said than done. It can become an intensive, time-consuming process if you don’t know where to start. So what is a good starting point? Well, one way to begin your search is to leverage your food industry contacts first. From there, broaden your search Google and LinkedIn. Online research is an invaluable tool in the modern landscape so use it to your advantage. Once you have a list of potential manufacturers, conduct thorough evaluations to make sure they have the capabilities needed to manufacture your protein cookie. Here are some tips to assist you in your evaluations:
- What are their Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs)? Are they willing to adapt to your needs and grow with you?
- Do they have the certifications (i.e. Gluten-Free, Non-GMO, Plant-based) you need to make your protein cookie a reality?
- What other services do they provide? Lab-based micro testing? FDA compliant packaging creation? Amazon-friendly fulfillment services?
- Where are they located? As a rule of thumb, your manufacturer should always be located in the country you plan to sell your cookies in.
4. Build a Marketing Strategy
Once the foundation of your protein cookie company is established, outline a marketing plan. With all the research you did, you should have a deep understanding of your target audience, competitors, and how your protein cookie will be different from others in the market. Use this data to create brand messaging that will resonate with your target market.
Due to the acceleration of eCommerce and social media, it’s now easier than ever to get your message out there and increase brand awareness. The trick is, however, getting your message to the right person at the right time. Here’s how you can do it:
- Focus on your customers to foster brand loyalty
- Leverage your cookie’s benefits to drive your marketing message
- Share your customers’ testimonials on your social media and website
- Identify cross-promotional opportunities with other brands or influencers
- Invest in Google and social media paid advertising to reach a wider audience
Launch Your Protein Cookie Brand!
It’s finally the time to start selling! If you don’t know where to start, we recommend starting your protein cookie company online. COVID-19 has accelerated eCommerce in the past few months with more people shopping online rather than venturing outside. So in order to successfully launch your protein cookie brand, you must align with their preferences and purchasing behaviors. You can either start your own direct-to-consumer eCommerce site or use an existing platform like Amazon to get your cookies into the hands of your customers.
Last but not least, make sure you have the perfect team in place to ensure the success of your protein cookie. This team will include:
- The Co-Manufacturer / Co-Packer (or your in-house team of operations if you plan to manufacture yourself).
- The Head of Marketing. This is even more important than a CFO for a new brand
- The CEO - to position the brand direction and outline annual goals. Often serves as CFO until the company grows in size.
You are now ready to start your protein cookie company. Good luck!