Flourish takes an ecomm-led approach to breakfast

Without a big marketing budget to invest in-store, the pancake brand is building a digital funnel that complements retailers.

Flourish Pancakes-Flourish Pancakes Launches Highly Anticipated

One of the myriad ways the pandemic has affected our lives is around meal times. With more people eating breakfast at home rather than on-the-go, some categories, like pancake mixes, are benefiting.

Flourish Pancakes is a Toronto-based challenger pancake brand that launched in 2018, and is now, literally, adding plant-based protein to its “mix.”

The company’s original and chocolate chip flavoured products, which are enhanced with added plant-based protein, recently launched in Metro stores and are coming to Loblaw April 18, with distribution in Walmart pegged for later in the year, according to Andrew Maida, the company’s founder.

He tells strategy that while the product definitely fits with at-home breakfast and baking trends, it’s actually gluten-free and high protein content that’s driving purchase intent.

Although people say they want more plant-based food in their diet, that’s more of a “survey answer,” Maida maintains, that people have a hard time following through on. When it comes to checkout, in pancakes or any baking mix product, it’s extremely difficult to make gluten-free and plant-based products that have same has the fluffy, doughy, bready mouth-feel, he says.

“For us, we have been working for about three years on this recipe, which is the first plant based and gluten free high protein pancake and baking mix, that still rises and has that bready texture without gunk and garbage consumers are shying away from” Maida says.

According to Maida, in terms of design, its aim is to “strip everything away and make the design as clean and as neutral as possible.” High purchase intent callouts are prominent on pack, with large “GF,” gluten-free and “11 grams of protein” circles to draw attention.

“Breakfast is a really hot category, with tonnes of ways you can go about it,” Maida says. “For us, the real problem we are trying to solve is that North Americans are not getting enough protein in their breakfast.” The product’s clean-label ingredients, and also the fact that pancakes are a family nostalgic treat, is helping the brand compete against the likes of legacy brands like Aunt Jemima (which itself is set to be rebranded as Pearl Milling Company this summer).

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Flourish is not only found in the health aisle, but in the natural aisle too, which is a benefit as plant-based offerings are mainstreamed.

However, it’s outside the grocery aisle where the brand has honed its focus: Maida says Flourish Pancakes is heavily invested in ecommerce to drive consideration at shelf, because, as a young brand, its does not have the marketing dollars.

“We try to build ecommerce as part of our funnel that complements the retailer, and does not necessarily compete with it,” Maida says. The brand has not done much in the way of trial, product demos or flyers, but has seen success with digital, so it launched its first digital flyer with Metro in March, focused on recipe content that had a redemption component to drive sales, and also allows retailers to co-brand with items such as blueberries or private label syrups.

Influencer shopping trips have served it well to help drive demand among younger, health-focused audiences, without having to invest in traditional shopper items like flyers and shelf talkers. It is also exploring using an online platform for trial opportunities, and further building its social presence, particularly on TikTok, which offers a targeted way to reach audiences based on interest.

On the design front, Flourish is also getting help from investor and Dragons’ Den star Arlene Dickinson, whose District Ventures Capital is backing the brand, and helping it with positioning and PR.