FEATURE14 December 2017

Business Impact of the Year: C Space and Ella’s Kitchen

FMCG Features UK

At the 2017 MRS Research Live Awards, C Space and Ella’s Kitchen were named the winners in the award for Business Impact of the Year. 

C space ellas kitchen_crop

After experiencing rapid growth since its launch in 2006, Ella’s Kitchen, a baby and toddler food brand focused on organic ingredients, partnered with C Space in 2015 to change the way it conducted research and harness its relationship with its customer base.

The company believed that its consumers would provide a significant source of inspiration and help to drive growth, so the two teamed up to build ‘Besties’, an ongoing online community of 300 members – parents sharing feedback on new products, design, new markets and consumer behaviours.

Since July 2016, the community has made over 61,000 contributions across 18 projects, and the partnership has expanded from working with one to seven departments, including the company’s executive board.

Recent work on new products and ranges includes an exploratory project to help better understand baby snacking. The insights from the community led to additional investment to redesign Ella’s Kitchen’s snacking range, increasing distribution – including a new listing in a major UK retailer. In another project, conversations with community members identified a gap in the baby snacks market, leading to the development of a ‘melty stick’ – a breadstick alternative – which secured listings in Asda, Sainsbury’s, Boots, Morrisons and Ocado.

Libby Wybrow, head of the company’s ‘Friendly Stuff’ team (insight and product innovation), said the creation of the insight community has led to a new way of working for the business. She said: “It’s allowed us to be a truly consumer-focused brand, putting kids first in both the way we develop our NPD strategy and how we bring our brand to life in store and through communications.”

As part of the ‘Playdates’ project, two members of Ella’s Kitchen staff visit parents from the community (and their children) each month to help the brand build customer insight into its day-to-day decision-making.

C Space also aided the brand’s expansion in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, via a series of in-market ethnographies and online surveys, which explained market differences in usage, beliefs and behaviour when weaning. Using these insights, the company was able to secure retail listings of 30 stock keeping units (SKUs) over the next two years.

Ella’s Kitchen chief executive Mark Cuddigan said the partnership has equipped the brand with the tools needed to put customers at the centre of “everything we do”, adding: “We are always trying new things and pushing ourselves to be a better, more customer centric brand.”

“[Ella’s Kitchen’s] openness to partnering with us as an extension of the team has given us a great platform to develop strategies to drive growth for the brand’s business,” said Phil Burgess and Felix Koch, joint managing directors of C Space in London.

The judges said: “We were bowled over by the impact that C Space has clearly had on Ella’s Kitchen during a crucial period – this is research at its best. Impressive client testimonials combined with evidence of creativity and a real business impact make this partnership a very worthy winner.”

C Space was also awarded Best Agency with turnover above £20m at the MRS Research Live Awards.