Client Stories

Gone viral on TikTok? Check! Little Moons Marketing Director Ross Farquhar on what’s next

March 01, 2021

6 min read

When Japanese ice cream brand Little Moons went viral on TikTok, sales increased tenfold. Now, consumer profiling is helping the brand convert that sales spike into long-term success.

Going to “big Tesco” in search of Little Moons – the craze that’s sweeping TikTok – has seen sales of the mochi ice cream bites skyrocket by more than 1000%. 

It’s the type of viral marketing that brands can only dream of. But because social media trends tend to be short-lived, the big question is, what can brands do to ride the wave of success and turn it into long-term growth? 

Ross Farquhar, Little Moons, Marketing Director,
Ross Farquhar, Marketing Director, Little Moons

Ross Farquhar, Little Moons’ Marketing Director, says by taking the craze beyond TikTok and promoting it to a wider audience, they’re gaining maximum benefits. But they wouldn’t have been able to do this without understanding who their most valuable customers are.

Little Moons had carried out a consumer profiling exercise with Attest during 2020, and that meant they were able to spring into action when things started hotting up on TikTok in early 2021. 

“We went viral and our sales went up tenfold, almost overnight, which was incredible. What the audience profiling helped us do, though, is make sure we reacted in the right way and didn’t lose our focus on the overarching ambition of introducing Little Moons to a broader audience.”

Social media can be deceptive

In the beginning, Little Moons had assumed that their social media following was reflective of their customer base, primarily young women in their late teens/early twenties. But what Farquhar and his team discovered through consumer profiling is that the people who buy premium ice cream on a habitual basis are quite different – they’re the affluent 30+ demographic.

“Before we embarked on profiling, we’d already done quite a lot of work with our social media following. We’d obviously been engaging with them on a day-to-day basis and we’d been talking to them about why they love Little Moons and so on. We’d also done some less scientific surveys trying to get at who these people were; basic demographic information, that kind of thing. 

“The danger is that this kind of insight can lead you to assume your early adopters are similar to the people who will help you scale – in our case, young women in urban centres.

“But what we found when we did the audience profiling was something quite different. And so it really brought into sharp focus that, although we hugely appreciate the opinion formers who got us to this point, we need to somehow broaden our base into older and more affluent consumers.”

Little Moons consumer profiling

Who has the purchasing power?

Little Moons has an RRP of just under £5 a pack and so Farquhar aimed to identify the bigger spenders on ice cream. He also wanted to know which brands Little Moons were most closely competing against. 

“Ultimately we wanted to understand who the medium and heavy buyers of premium ice cream are, which would be the basis for our segmentation. What we then did was put a variety of questions into the profiling methodology. We had hypotheses about what might break these groups apart in a meaningful way, but we didn’t necessarily know. Questions that got at things like the extent to which people would say that they agreed that price is less important than quality or the extent to which people claim that they like to try new things. 

“And what we found in the end was that question about, ‘do I weigh quality more heavily than price?’ was the thing that helped us to break the groups apart. We recognise that right next to us in the freezer are big tubs of ice cream that are perhaps a lower quality and less interesting, but are definitely a cheaper purchase. So if you’re not going to buy-in to the idea that quality is worth paying a bit more for, it’s probably going to be quite a hard ask to convert you to Little Moons.”

Farquhar says this exercise helped him understand the people he’d need to bring into the Little Moons fold to achieve their ambitious growth targets, making mochi mainstream across Europe. Because of this, when the brand started trending on TikTok, Little Moons knew they had to build traction off-platform. 

“It helped us to recognise that if the trend was going to really translate into the business outcomes that we wanted, then we were going to have to take the story of what was happening on TikTok and make it accessible to people who maybe weren’t on the platform – affluent shoppers who were a bit older and had different shapes to their lives. 

“So it made us really double down on making sure that we were encouraging PR and press to cover the story, because our theory was if we could get it into the Telegraph or The Express or The Sun, it was far more likely to become part of the cultural conversation than if it just stayed on TikTok.”

Little Moons brand awareness

A “significant” impact on brand awareness

Little Moons generated a ton of press coverage thanks to their strategy to publicise the brand’s TikTok success, further boosting retail sales. Farquhar doesn’t yet know the impact the activity has had on brand awareness but he is looking forward to finding out. Little Moons had already undertaken their first brand tracker with Attest prior to the TikTok explosion, so they have measurements to benchmark their success against. 

“I’m really excited to see what things are going to look like when we do dip into it. I have to expect that we’re going to see prompted awareness and consideration has grown quite significantly in the UK after everything that has happened with TikTok.”

As Farquhar notes, the challenge for Little Moons now is making sure they can supply enough ice cream to meet demand – and keep engaging with their new audience. 

“It’s been an incredible start to 2021,” he concludes. “We’re so grateful for everything that’s happened. And of course, we’re jumping on this boat to make sure that the shelves are stocked and that we hopefully have a much wider distribution for the forthcoming summer of ice cream. 

“We want to make sure we capitalise on this opportunity because we now have a much broader set of people aware of Little Moons and paying attention to us and it would be remiss of us to then go quiet on them. There’s still a lot more to come to ultimately achieve the business outcome that we set out to when we started working with Attest.”

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