“Sampling has been a really wonderful way to convert for our brand,” co-founder and CEO Margaret Wishingrad told FoodNavigator-USA.
“But right now no one is going to go into stores and grab something out of my hand, so Ian [Three Wishes co-founder Ian Wishingrad, founder at creative agency BigeyedWish] said ‘We have a U-shaped driveway, let’s turn it into a contactless sampling station for our local community,’ so we did it on a beautiful weekend and it was really great to see people trying it and loving it.”
While it started out as a fun way to connect safely with other people in the community, with many asking if they could buy boxes of the cereal and pay the couple via venmo, the Wishingrads are now having conversations with local grocery stores about whether they are comfortable with the brand trying some contactless sampling in their parking lots instead of instore.
(As the video shows, Margaret is wearing gloves and a mask, and hands out samples using tongs.)
“Sampling is a really effective channel and it really converts for our brand, so we’re in conversations with everyone in the area about how we can do this," said Ian.
Funding round completed pre-COVID-19
Launched in late 2019, Three Wishes (strapline: ‘more protein, less sugar, zero grains’) is now available in around 700 stores including Sprouts, Whole Foods, and Wegmans ($4.99-$5.99/box), as well as online platforms including Amazon and ThreeWishescereal.com, and contains four key ingredients: chickpeas, pea protein, tapioca, and salt.
The Wishingrads, who managed to secure funding from investors including RXBAR founders Peter Rahal and Jared Smith and former president of Post Cereal Stephen Van Tassel just before coronavirus hit, were “very fortunate that we pretty much got a ‘yes’ from every single retail partner we went to, as there hasn’t been that much innovation in the cereal aisle,” claimed Ian.
Thanks to coronavirus-indused mayhem in stores, however, "a lot of the retailers that were going to bring us in and were committed kept pushing it,"he said. "So Sprouts was supposed to come online in March, and they came on in April; Fresh Direct is excited to take us but we’ve been pushed back because of the craziness, so it will be more like June.”
Retailers still want new things
Like many startups, while it waits to get into bricks and mortar accounts, Three Wishes is placing greater emphasis on e-commerce channels, and ensuring every dollar it spends on digital channels from facebook and Instagram to Youtube “can be captured and give us our best shot to make an economic play on the internet," said Ian.
As for consumer appetite for new brands during this unusual time, he added: "Right now all these unhealthy cereal classics are flying off shelves and these huge brands are having epic quarters, but I think that's fleeting; it doesn't mean that retailers don't want to introduce new things."