“A perfect storm”: How mochi brand Little Moons blew up on TikTok
Between Facebook’s shift away from being a place to connect with family and friends, and the rapid decline in usability of Twitter in recent weeks, many people are beginning to look elsewhere for their social media needs. There are myriad alternatives but one in particular has grabbed the attention of younger generations and has seen steady growth for some time: TikTok. And while getting a brand on TikTok is easy, getting it noticed is something else entirely. In 2021, UK-based m
K-based mochi ice cream brand Little Moons blew up on TikTok and essentially sold out across the country. Last month, the brand launched its desserts in Australia.
Here, we talk to co-founder Howard Wong about how the business got started on the video-based social platform, and why its products have been so successful with younger consumers.
Inside Retail: Firstly, can you tell me a bit about the concept of Little Moons? Where did the idea come from?
Howard Wong: I co-founded Little Moons in 2010 with my sister, Vivien. We had grown up helping out at our parents’ Asian bakery business and they had instilled in us a strong passion for good food made with quality ingredients.
One of the products they sold was traditional mochi filled with red bean paste however, it was actually during a trip to Japan that we first tried mochi filled with ice cream. We immediately fell in love with the taste and combination of textures. We had an idea to put our own twist on mochi ice cream by combining our secret family mochi recipe with artisanal gelato style ice cream.
We spent two years perfecting recipes and the production process before leaving our finance jobs and launching Little Moons.
IR: Little Moons recently expanded its products to Australia. Can you tell me a bit about the opportunity you see here?
HW: Aussies eat about three times as much ice cream as the average Brit and are also pretty adventurous when it comes to food and cuisines. So Australia was always a potentially great market for us – though we didn’t have any immediate plans to launch here.
We were actually approached by Woolworths –they had seen Little Moon’s success in the UK and elsewhere, and wanted to help us bring the brand to Australia, initially stocking exclusively. We’re pleased to say the response from consumers so far has been fantastic, with really strong sales and Woolworths have been a fantastic partner.
IR: Little Moons is pretty well known for having been successful on TikTok and social media – can you tell me a bit about that? What have you done differently to stand out online?
HW: In February last year, we began to notice people posting videos to TikTok filming themselves going on an adventure to ’big Tesco’ to buy Little Moons. Within weeks, the trend had gone viral racking up 300 million views and Little Moons was sold out everywhere.
Our sales were up 1300 per cent in Tesco alone. It was the result of a perfect storm in a way; firstly, the UK was in lockdown, so going to the supermarket was one of the only things you could do. Secondly, the product itself is texturally and visually unusual so it can be squeezed or stretched so it lent itself perfectly to reviews and taste tests: both things that make good TikTok content.
And finally, we already had an active TikTok where we were making videos, engaging with users and getting used to fanning the flames of emerging trends.
I’d say the key to resonating with people on TikTok is to make content that doesn’t feel overly branded. We always try to create videos that entertain and make people smile – that is the priority rather than forcing the brand, product or packaging on to the viewer.
IR: Do you think brands are doing a good job of utilising TikTok to reach younger customers?
HW: Yes, increasingly so. We love the content that brands like Duolingo and Woolworths make. One of the biggest lessons for us was to approach the platform in a way that was less curated and polished than the content on our other social feeds.
We empower our team, who are all avid TikTok users themselves, to make the videos they want to make rather than insisting they go through rounds of approvals. The result is content that performs extremely well organically, so I would absolutely recommend this approach to other brands.
IR: What are your plans moving forward? Moving into new categories? More flavours? New markets?
HW: As mentioned, we’re delighted with Australia’s response to Little Moons so far. We sold over 54,000 packs during our first week in the market, in some instances clearing shelves. We’re working towards expanding our product range here so Australian shoppers can get their hands on more of our flavours.
New Zealand will also be on the cards at some point. We’re definitely here to stay in the ANZ region and looking forward to continuing to grow and redefine the frozen snacking category.
We sometimes describe ourselves as the slowest burning ‘overnight sensation’. There is no denying that TikTok accelerated our journey but even before we went viral, we were experiencing 50 per cent year-on-year growth and winning over more and more consumers. That success stemmed in part from investing in our brand but has also been driven by the taste and quality of our product. Making delicious, high-quality products will always be at the epicentre of Little Moons. We know our parents would not want it any other way.
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