Entrepreneurs Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz are all about revamping age-old, everyday foods with a modern, healthier twist. The duo, who met in college, first paired up on a company that used powdered crickets to make high-protein bars before diving into their latest endeavor: Magic Spoon Cereal. Here, Gabi and Greg share their biggest challenges, how they're having fun with consumers and the latest in product development.
Adweek: What’s one major hurdle you’ve had to overcome as a category challenger?
Gabi Lewis: Consumer education around price has been our largest challenge. Because cereal is historically a cheap commodity (as its base ingredients are just corn, wheat, and sugar), people are used to paying a low price for a big box of cereal. Our cereal, on the other hand, uses high-quality ingredients like whey protein, coconut oil, tapioca flour, allulose, and monk fruit, all of which are much more costly, and so we’ve had to shift the mindset of a potential customer. ... We’ve partially solved that through displaying the price on a per-serving basis on our site, which shows that at $1.39 per serving, Magic Spoon is far cheaper than most other healthy breakfast options like bars, shakes, yogurts, smoothies, and so on, rather than comparing it to old-fashioned cereal.
Currently, Magic Spoon cereal is only sold online. Any plans to change that?
"Magic Spoon will be everywhere you’re used to seeing boxes of cereal, including traditional retail."
Gabi: Right now, we’re 100% direct-to-consumer online. We plan to stay that way for the immediate future—leveraging our community and relationships with customers to inform product development, new flavors, recipe tweaks, and more. Eventually, though, all DTC companies reach a ceiling, and so over time Magic Spoon will be everywhere you’re used to seeing boxes of cereal, including traditional retail.
What's new for the brand?
Gabi: We launched our first new form factor for Magic Spoon: mini boxes. Just like sitting at the kitchen table, watching cartoons and reading comics is a quintessential memory associated with cereal, mini boxes bring back a certain childhood nostalgia that we are looking to recreate, with everything that we do as a brand. We've heard so much feedback from our customers that they eat Magic Spoon as a snack throughout the day, or when on-the-go and thanks to our nimble supply chain, we were able to quickly make it easier than ever before to enjoy Magic Spoon anywhere, anytime.
How do you stay nimble and innovative?
Gabi: We’re constantly developing new flavors, some still reminiscent of the flavors you remember as a kid and some that aren’t as traditional. In addition, we’re always thinking of ways we can continue to engage with our customers to just remind them to have fun, be it on social media, email campaigns, or limited-edition Magic Spoon products. We want to continue to evoke the nostalgia of childhood while continuing to provide our customers with crazy good and healthy flavors of cereal.
While customer acquisition is a huge focus for DTC brands, how are you thinking about customer retention efforts?
Greg Sewitz: Ahead of email, SMS, retargeting, or any other kind of formal “retention,” we focus on making an absolutely amazing product. Nothing will have a greater impact on customer retention than a product people love and obsess over. So that means we’re constantly reaching out to customers to learn how we can improve every aspect of Magic Spoon from the sweetness of our cereal to the flow of our website.
Which entrepreneurial skills or traits have most helped you get to where you are today?
Greg: More important than any particular skill or personality trait is that we’re genuine lovers of food and this industry. We’re obsessed with food, health and nutrition, so the motivating insights in founding Magic Spoon (and our prior business) wasn’t a sort of case-study market-analysis perspective. Rather, we founded our companies from the consumer’s perspective, and Magic Spoon was largely born out of a personal desire for a legitimately healthy cereal that didn’t taste like cardboard. That kind of genuine passion and motivation in what we’re doing has not only helped craft the right product for the market but also helps us stay motivated during the inevitable ups and downs of entrepreneurial life.
What advice would you give to other marketing pioneers?
"...you shouldn’t be too protective over the brand or be afraid to try something that might be off-brand.”
Greg: It’s tempting to obsess too much over what you happen to think your brand represents today. When you’re early, that’s a mistake, and you shouldn’t be too protective over the brand or be afraid to try something that might be off-brand. You might learn something about what your business can become, which you otherwise might not have seen. By exploring with different kinds of creative content, as weird as it might be, you might be able to catch a glimpse into what your audience loves and tap into something really special.