Vanilla conquers e-commerce

Symrise has launched the Flavor division’s first consumer brand in the USA: vnlla Extract Co. Not only that: for the first time, it will be sold directly to the consumer on e-commerce platforms.

Traditionally, Symrise sells its vanilla almost entirely via B2B channels, primarily targeting food manufacturers and producers of fast-moving consumer goods. However, in early 2020, the Flavor team accepted the challenge of creating additional growth potential by developing new channels and business opportunities. New market dynamics also played a role. Due to climatic influences and the consumer trend toward preferring natural ingredients, vanilla prices shot up to dizzying heights. As a result, many Symrise customers began reducing or even completely replacing the amount of vanilla in their end products. Millennials’ newly discovered passion for cooking and baking at home was also an important development. When the pandemic broke out, this trend accelerated. Everything was in readiness, and vnlla Extract Co. was launched.

OUT WITH TRADITION A multidisciplinary team was assembled to cover the entire spectrum of activities that are tied to production of a new consumer brand, including the brand’s personality and positioning, packaging, product set, market launch, etc. “We analyzed the current product landscape and saw that all the established manufacturers in this category followed the same rules,” declares Emmanuel Laroche, VP Marketing & Consumer Insights at Symrise, “which resulted in a sea of little brown bottles that all had a very traditional look, flavor and position.” Paul Graham, Regional President Flavor NA, adds: “We came to the conclusion that this category was ripe for disruption.”

The vanilla market was ripe for disruption.”

Emmanuel Laroche, V.P. Marketing & Consumer Insights

Vnlla Extract Co. was introduced on December 15, 2020. “The products are delivered in a sustainable glass bottle with a label indicating exactly how much vanilla you have used and how much is still left. Surprisingly, no other vanilla on the market features this little design element. We put recyclable bamboo caps on the bottles that really make the vanilla stand out in the consumer’s spice cupboard,” says Paul.

SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT LAUNCH The next step was to develop various unconventional flavor options alongside the pure extract. Following comprehensive consumer tests to determine which combinations are most popular, vanilla plus lemon, vanilla plus orange and vanilla plus a spice mixture came out the winners. The decision was made to select Amazon as the e-commerce platform of choice. Shortly thereafter, in early 2021, Shopify was added for specialists.

Working with Amazon brought its own challenges. “We definitely got to know a whole series of different terminologies, definitions and procedures,” says Paul. Just a couple of months following the launch, it’s clear that vnlla Extract Co. is a great success in every respect. Social media continue to play an important role. “We mostly concentrate on Instagram and Facebook to build up consumer communities. We began with zero followers in December and now have more than 2,700. We engage in regular dialogue with the consumers, which is a great success in itself,” says Emmanuel.

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