When it comes to marketing savvy, Rosie O’Neill, is a leading lady. She has grown Sugarfina into a world-wide success and has been dubbed “The Tesla of Candy” by Wall Street Journal. Rosie proves that taking risks is essential if you want to stay ahead. It clearly paid off because Sugarfina now has the largest Instagram following of any candy shop in the world! Read on to find out Rosie’s top tips for branding, marketing, and social media.
Your selection of candies is incredible! How do you come up with all of your unique and glamorous flavors? What is that process like from concept to final product?
The idea for a new candy starts with a shape and flavor concept. We work with our candy makers to create 3D molds and start to test flavor samples. Then we make a round of samples in that shape and flavor and have our whole team taste-test it. If it needs adjustments, we keep tweaking things until it’s perfect. Once it’s produced, we get to the fun work of creating a launch campaign and start to shoot all the visual content around it.
We’re constantly keeping an eye on what’s new and trending. When pineapples were having a moment, we created our Parisian Pineapples. Flamingos are super popular, so we created Pink Grapefruit Flamingos (which are delicious btw!) and launched them at Coachella in partnership with PopSugar and TopShop. We feel like we know our shopper very well – she’s fashionable, creative and always in the know. We want to surprise and delight her with irresistible candies that are both yummy and fun to photograph. Many of our shopper’s post styled pics on Instagram before digging into their candy, and we love that!
The Sugarfina brand is very specific and well thought out. Your branding, marketing, and social content is so creative, clever and fun! With that said, how does your team come up with ideas and how do you execute them in Sugarfina style?
Innovation and risk taking are highly encouraged. If there’s an excellent idea, we don’t think about it for months; we just do it. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t, but that’s how you discover what’s going to resonate with most of your customers.
We also don’t take ourselves too seriously. Many of the high-end chocolate makers take a very serious approach…it’s intimidating and not very fun. We want our candies and our brand voice to be accessible, playful and chic.
Your Instagram is so fun to follow! Does social media play a significant role in Sugarfina’s success and how do you keep up with it?
Yes, social media – particularly Instagram – is huge for us. A big part of our retail traffic comes from people who first discovered us on Instagram. For the first few years, I ran the account, posting every other day or so. But when we saw how much traction our feed was getting, we wanted to increase our frequency and elevate the content even more. It’s a full-time job! Fortunately, we found Angela, our fantastic social media manager. She has taken our account to the next level, and we’re so proud that Sugarfina now has the largest Instagram following of any candy shop in the world.
“When we saw how much traction
our [Instagram] feed was getting,
we wanted to increase our frequency
& elevate the content even more.
It’s a full-time job!”
We love your collaborations; that seems to be a big part of your business/marketing strategy. How do you choose partnerships and how do your collaborations come to fruition? What has been your favorite collaboration to date?
We love to partner with on-trend brands who have something unique to pair with candy. For example, we just launched the most amazing collab with Pressed Juicery. It started as an April Fool’s joke last year when we “launched” green juice gummy bears. The response was overwhelming… people thought it was real and were clamoring to get them! Pretty quickly we decided we needed to bring it to life, so we called up our L.A. neighbors, Pressed Juicery to develop the recipe. They’re delicious, “better for you” gummy bears made with apple, lemon, ginger, and greens. They’re all-natural, non-GMO, fat-free, 20% of your daily Vitamins A and C, and about 30% less sugar than regular bears. We even have a 7-day gummy bear “cleanse” that features seven shot bottles of the bears. It sold out in 3 hours online and had a waitlist of more than 2,000 people!
Before Pressed, our collab with Whispering Angel rosé last summer was insane. It went viral. Our entire year’s production sold out in 2 hours online, it crashed our website multiple times, generated an 18,000-person waiting list, and received more than 4.5 billion media impressions. The Kelly Ripa Show called it “The Next Birkin Bag” and Wall Street Journal dubbed us “The Tesla of Candy.” Needless to say, that was a pretty fun week.