Go ahead and be brave. What global brands can learn from small businesses.

Go ahead and be brave. This is the mantra of our client Barilla, a leading global FMCG group and the world’s biggest pasta-maker. It’s one that also rings true for many businesses right now, from the large to the very small.

As Alessio Gianni, Barilla’s Global Director for Digital and Content Marketing, said last week in our webinar series ‘Only the Brave’, “a crisis is the best way to go fast and be brave”. This is definitely something that chimed with me.

I’m a Senior Producer at Brilliant Noise, and am also a director of Cin Cin – two Italian restaurants in Brighton and Hove. My husband, David, is the restauranteur of our family and the restaurants are his babies. Barilla is on an entirely different scale to our business, but we’re both family-owned and there’s a closeness in how we are responding to the Covid-19 crisis.

The pandemic hit Cin Cin hard. In the run up to lockdown we saw a significant drop in our turnover week-on-week. In the end, the direction to shut down on the 20th March felt like a strange sort of relief.

It’s been twelve weeks since the government put in place the restrictions. In some ways time has flown, but in others it has felt slow and onerous. However, in that time we have pivoted our restaurant into a home delivery service. Very early on my husband said to me “I refuse to hibernate the business. It’s not what our customers want”.

We therefore applied the Brilliant Noise Experiment-Led Marketing™ mindset to Cin Cin. All of our experiments began with the thought “what can we do to keep our current customers happy, loyal, advocates, and maybe even find new ones?”. ‘Cin Cin At Home’ boxes were born.

The boxes are restaurant-quality, three course meals that are prepared for consumers to finish at home with simple instructions. They were already in the pipeline before the pandemic, but it accelerated us into getting them out to market as quickly as possible. We had to take a fresh look at how we use social media, and experimented with a delivery platform called ‘My Local Delivers’. Our meal boxes now sell out in record time each week. Due to the incredible response we have set up a subscription service so that our most loyal customers are always guaranteed their ‘Cin Cin at Home’ experience.

Restaurant quality food delivered to your door has been born out of this era of experimentation, and it’s here to stay for good. A change in consumer behaviour means that, even when Cin Cin are able to open its doors once more, we’ll continue this new product line and can easily scale it up. 

During last week’s webinar Antony Mayfield, Brilliant Noise CEO, hit the nail on the head in saying “we are all learning from forced experimentation”. From Michelin starred restaurants to Wagamama, who created the perfect PR storm with their ‘Wok from Home’ episodes, the food industry has had to move fast. Other brands, such as Heinz, have pivoted to selling produce direct to consumers. A brave move that had no doubt been on their agenda before the pandemic hit. 

Experiment-Led Marketing™ means that successes can be rapid, measured and scaled. Whether it’s a large global organisation like Barilla or a small business like Cin Cin, we can all benefit from this mindset. At Cin Cin we had several hypotheses, but focused on the ideas that we believed to be achievable first. Once success had been measured we could then scale up, before moving onto the next. As Alessio remarked during our webinar, “Just choose one. Say no more often and prioritise”. 

In this pivotal time we are seeing that the brands that thrive are the ones who aren’t afraid to be brave.  They are the brands who are learning from smaller businesses who have agility on their side, and aren’t drowning in bureaucracy. The ones who aren’t afraid to prioritise and try new approaches. In the wise words of the company founder Pietro Barilla, brands must “Move forward, move forward with courage”.

For more information on our Experiment-Led Marketing™ approach you can download our free toolkit. You can also contact us for more information and for details of our next webinar.