When Neil Thomson decided to create his subscription business Naked Snacks, healthy snacking was new to him. But he knew a thing or two about branding.
“I had all sorts of books about entrepreneurship that said, ‘Just create that minimum viable product’, and then invest into branding once you’ve gotten feedback from your first customers.”
But that conventional wisdom didn’t ring true to Neil. “I decided to invest in branding right away. I didn’t know how excited people would be if they just got their orders in plain brown boxes. The minimum quantity order for branded boxes was 2,000 and we only had 38 customers that first month.”
But thankfully business picked up. A lot. Neil claims his chances of success would have been minimal without branding, but the risk of over-investing into an untested business was still very real.
The idea for Naked Snacks was simple enough. Neil was in a new relationship with Ryley, the woman who ended up becoming his wife and business partner. And they both agreed that his snacking habits left something to be desired. A bag of potato chips or a Snickers bar was Neil’s go-to. But when he browsed for healthier snacking options in the grocery store, they just didn’t appeal to him.
With Neil’s tech background and interest in e-commerce, creating Naked Snacks seemed like a fun—if ambitious—way to solve the snack problem. Could he and Ryley create snacks that were genuinely as delicious as they were healthy? And furthermore, could they deliver that snacking experience to their customers’ doors each month?
Obviously, if you’re looking to create, in Neil’s words, “a relationship that consistently delivers an experience”, branding is of foremost importance. Hence, Neil and Ryley will always treasure the picture they took of that frightening amount of boxes stacked in their living room that first month.
Fortunately, those boxes looked great from the get-go. “Great Little Box Company (GLBC) was really helpful in getting us started with a box that was slightly thicker,” says Neil. “And when we wanted to change that, GLBC came back with a compressed, thinner board that looked really slick.
Honestly, getting those boxes was one of those exciting moments when I felt, we are growing up as a company.’”
Nailing the look and feel of the boxes and branded materials inside of them obviously drives customer satisfaction. But it also encourages a particularly potent form of promotion. Neil explains, “Most of our exposure occurs through Instagram and Facebook when people decided to post their unboxing experiences.”
These unboxing experiences take place in any number of settings. But it’s common for busy moms and offices with lots of snack-prone workers to become customers. The subscription becomes a “wonderful monthly surprise” and a source of entertainment for them. The Naked Snacks website even has a “surprise me” feature to ramp up this entertainment value; you never know what you’re going to get until the box arrives.
At present, although Neil always assumed he’d be running an e-commerce – only business, Naked Snacks is finding its way into grocery stores and hotel chains. They have recently expanded into 50 hotels. You can pick up Naked Snacks at grocery stores like IGA, Urban Fare, and Nesters around the Lower Mainland—and beyond.
“We’re now a multi-channel company. We have a great online business but we’re also working through more traditional channels as well,” says Neil.
Wherever Naked Snacks wants to go, we’ll happily join them. We’re proud of them for solving the “snack problem” as deliciously as they do.