ARTICLE / THE MAKING OF... SERIES
The making of...
The global breakfast cereals market (ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat) is dominated by big multinational players like General Mills, Kellogg’s, and PepsiCo and is expected to reach USD 63.3 billion by 2028. Many of these cereals consist of cheap mass-market commodity grains like wheat, barley, oats, and corn and come in the form of snacks, crunches, and flakes. It’s highly concentrated, super competitive, and promotional heavy… so why would anyone in their right mind decide to launch their own brand to challenge the entrenched incumbents?
The making of... Series
It’s every creative agency owner’s dream to be their own client… and you guys have done just that. Can you give everyone a bit of a background?
My wife Margaret is the co-founder & CEO of Three Wishes. She helped me grow our creative agency, BigEyedWish from a shared-desk at a co-working space to a multimillion-dollar company with clients like AT&T, Nestle, and Diageo.
While working for the Fortune 100 is lucrative and educational, our real satisfaction came from collaborating with creative and bold entrepreneurs looking to make waves and unseat the incumbents.
We have a love of cereal here at Hunter too. Yet, we’re not jumping in to create our own brand. What was your reasoning behind the idea?
We love cereal, and after the birth of our son Ellis, we went on a mission to feed him wholesome food - from which sprang the beginnings of Three Wishes. We started by turning the cupboard upside down. We wanted to create a new kind of cereal – one made from nutrient-dense ingredients, not commodity grains like wheat, rice, corn, and oats. Three Wishes is high in protein, low in sugar, gluten and grain-free, 100% vegan, and tastes incredible – so you can enjoy the deliciously nostalgic cereal flavors you love and miss without any of the bad stuff.
Ian and Margaret Wishingrad, Founders of Three Wishes
As marketers and brand people we know how important research plays in the development process. With that in mind, how did you arrive at what you've got now and how did you go about testing your product-market fit?
We walked the aisles of the grocery store and saw that the cereal aisle needed change. We noticed that all the other aisles had seen some innovation – like Banza for pasta and Siete for tortilla chips, showing it’s possible to make healthier alternatives of familiar staples and still be delicious.
Those grocery store aisles are pretty lackluster aren’t they? So quickly realising cereal category needed changing, what were the first iterations of your product like?
The first iteration of our cereal was puffy and delicious… but it didn't meet our nutritional needs. We adjusted for our nutrition goals and then it got too hard and pellet-y. Through tons of trial and error and tasting, we eventually got to where we are now: a delicious, crunchy cereal available in all the flavors you know and love – without any of the bad stuff.
Developing a new product and launching a brand can be expensive. Particularly in a category like this. How did you fund everything?
We used our own profits from our creative agency for the first two years and once we had our final, ready-to-go product we began raising money.
As a creative agency founder, how did you approach the branding and did you find the process difficult when doing it for yourself?
Having our own creative agency, BigEyedWish, we know the work like the back of our hand. But when it came time to do our own branding, it proved harder than we ever anticipated. Trademarks are tricky in the food and beverage space because the category includes everything in a grocery store – no matter if you’re a cereal or a can of beans. Right off the bat, this made it tough to come up with an original name. When it comes to branding, you usually try to say just one thing. With our cereal, we wanted to say three: high protein, low sugar, grain-free. When we finally landed on Three Wishes, everything clicked. The name ended up fitting our product attributes, our last name is Wishingrad, and we’re a family of three.
Brand awareness is everything right? How are you getting the word out there to scale the brand?
It’s a complete omni-channel brand in terms of distribution and branding. We get the word out about Three Wishes through in-store end caps, gifting boxes to influencers, shooting commercials with athletes, creating advertising on eCommerce platforms, creative stunts, and PR.
It’s no surprise you’ve got your brand building sorted. What would you say your biggest challenge or challenges would be moving forward?
I think the biggest challenge we’ll face moving forward will be transitioning from the healthier, wealthier, natural food channel to conventional grocery.