Boomf enables consumers to personalize marshmallows with words or images - such as selfies - submitted via an online store. The company will then manufacture nine customized 4cm x 4cm (1.57 inch) marshmallows at its plant in Reading, UK, and send them out packaged in a box for $25, with free worldwide shipping.
The business grew about 600% last year and is expecting to grow 50% this year as it becomes more stable, said Boomf founder Andy Bell.
US is a huge market
Marshmallows are not yet as big a trend in the UK as they are in the US, Bell told ConfectioneryNews. “There are half the number of web searches for ‘marshmallows’ per head of population [in the UK],” he said. “But Boomf and a batch of start-up gourmet marshmallow producers are trying to change that.”
Currently, the UK accounts for 55% of Boomf revenue, and Hong Kong 20%. Although currently making up only 15% of Boomf’s overall business, trade from the US is growing fast, according to Bell.
“We really want to crack the US. It is a huge market.” Bell said. “But we need to do some work on dispatch and fulfillment to get that right.”
Customized marshmallows fit Asian culture
The business has targeted Asian markets through activity such as advertising in Mandarin on Facebook. One ad suggested consumers “invite your mom to play mahjong on Mother’s Day” and featured a picture of marshmallow mahjong tiles. Boomf also has a web page in Mandarin.
This Easter Boomf ran another Facebook ad, this depicting popular Japanese cartoon character Gudetama on its marshmallows.
“Initially we noticed lots of our UK customers had Chinese names," said Bell. "Then we created some Facebook ads that targeted the Hong Kong market, and they got a great response."
"There seems to be some sort of cultural fit. Even in America, the best Facebook audience for Boomf is people with Chinese language settings.”
When Boomf launched in 2013 it had a pop-up store in Selfridges enabling customers to walk in and create their own marshmallows, but this has since closed as the company decided to focus on its online business.
“Online and gifting and personalization go together nicely: our customers get to create heartfelt personalized products and they get delivered to their loved ones. Whereas, in store there is lots of waiting around and delivery hassles,” Bell explained.
So far, Boomf has received positive feedback, with consumers sharing images of the marshmallows on social media and creating a ripple effect of new custom.
Boomf is launching a new product at the end of May that will also tap the trend for gifting personalized food.
“Personalization is a massive trend and we are excited to be part of it,” said Bell.