Jacqueline Tyrrell is the brand manager at NOMO, the free from chocolate brand. As Easter is nearly upon us, it felt prudent to talk to her about the state of the dairy free market during traditional chocolate gifting times of the year, how brands and keeping up with the growing demand for vegan alternatives and her personal stance on women in business.
Please tell us how the brand was born and how you became involved with it.
Back when NOMO launched in 2019, there wasn’t a brand leader in the free-from chocolate space and the options for these consumers were very limited. At the time, the products available were either aimed at kids or were private label products that lacked excitement. NOMO has come in and disrupted the market in a big way. We’ve challenged the idea that free-from chocolate is a compromise by providing a delicious alternative that is as good, if not better, than mainstream chocolate.
What is the role of a brand manager and what advice do you have for anyone looking to enter into a similar job?
A brand manager wears many different hats, and no day is ever the same. From research to data analysis, working with NPD teams on new products, organising marketing campaigns, briefing designs and signing off artwork to presenting ranges to retailers - A brand manager is involved in every aspect of the brand. I came to marketing from a clothing design background and whilst a lot of these skills were transferable, I also had to be adaptable and resilient to enable me to learn whole host of other skills along the way.
If you’re starting out or are interested in brand management as a career, then doing a work placement is a great way to see if it’s the right career path for you. If you’re going for an entry level job always make sure you really research the brand, their competitors and market trends thoroughly. Pay attention to what is happening in their distribution channels both in store and online. Aside from that being creative, adaptable and a good communicator are all qualities that make a good brand manager.
Why was it important to the brand to be free of all the major allergens rather than just vegan?
NOMO is all about ensuring that as many people as possible can enjoy the delicious taste of chocolate without animal products and key allergens. Making sure we cater to as many people as we can is really at the heart of what we do, hence why our products are truly inclusive, being both vegan and free from dairy, gluten, egg and nuts.
Veganism continues to grow rapidly, so how has the brand benefitted from its plant-based credentials?
NOMO is the no. 1 free from chocolate brand in the UK with the greatest market share (18.5%). (Nielsen Scantrack – Data To 01/01/22) Since launching in 2019, NOMO has revolutionised free-from chocolate and the brand is the major growth driver in the category, with NOMO Caramel bar winning Vegan Food UK’s ‘best vegan chocolate award’ and NOMO’s Hazelnot bar winning a Great Taste Award.
In the latest year, NOMO has secured a loyal shopper base who buy the brand more frequently than any of its competitive set, on average twice as often (Nielsen Scantrack & Homescan – Data To 01/01/22). NOMO is currently worth £8.02 million in RSV, selling over 6.3 million units within the last year. (Nielsen Scantrack – Free From Chocolate GB – NOMO Brand – Value & Volume – 52 Weeks To 01/01/22)
Do you personally suffer from any intolerances that the bars cater for?
Our bars cater to such a wide variety of people from Vegans to people with food allergies or intolerances, so we have many consumers who come to NOMO for many different reasons. Personally, I suffer from a chronic pain condition called fibromyalgia which causes widespread muscle and joint pain. My symptoms are exacerbated if I eat dairy and meat and so I completely empathise with others who are in the same position as myself. I’m also a big animal lover and so for me, going meat free is a no brainer too. I love chocolate and so NOMO has been a lifesaver, I can have delicious chocolate without having to compromise on taste - and it’s made it easy for me to put myself in the shoes of our consumers.
Why is it important to buy Rainforest Alliance Certified Cocoa? What sets this apart from the rest?
It is important to buy Rainforest Alliance Certified Cocoa as the Rainforest Alliance works together with companies, farmers, foresters, communities, and consumers to amplify the voices of farmers and forest communities. They help improve livelihoods, protect biodiversity, and help people mitigate and adapt to climate change in bold and effective ways.
Is your customer base comprised mainly of vegans or people with allergies?
NOMO is unique, as our brand caters to both vegan and free from customers. We are all about making sure people feel included and this is very important to us.
Increasingly, we have seen non-vegan consumers becoming more interested in vegan products. The number of people that now follow a flexitarian diet has grown exponentially in the last 2 years. Largely it has been driven by people being more aware of the ethical and environmental benefits of switching to plant based.
How important is it to you to promote women in business?
I think it’s very important. If you can’t see it, then you can’t be it, so having role models to look up to in the business world is essential. I’ve been very lucky in my career to have some amazing and supportive female managers and colleagues.
Our Marketing Controller, Sales Director and CEO are also all women, so as a young woman myself, that is really inspiring.
There is so much competition within the vegan/free-from chocolate market, so what does your brand offer that is different from others of a similar ilk?
In a competitive market it is important to have a quality product that stands out – and our many loyal and new customers coupled with multiple award-winning products is testament to the quality of our chocolate.
What’s more, unlike many competitors, NOMO offer all the flavours and formats that are available in mainstream confectionery and at a competitive price. This makes it much easier for non-vegans to make direct swaps to trial vegan alternatives – whilst keeping our loyal customers excited by the huge amount of choice.
Finally, NOMO are free from all the major food allergens – not just one or two – which sets us apart from most competitors and enables everyone to enjoy the taste of delicious chocolate.
What is next for you and NOMO?
We have some very exciting products in the pipeline for 2022 both within our seasonal and core all year-round ranges. We have added two new Giant Button pouch bags to our best selling all year- round range in addition to a Choc Orange Crunch Block as well as our first ever Kids product - a three pack of choc lollies.
Following on from the success of Christmas, for Easter 2022, we have launched Cookie Dough in two formats (impulse and easter egg) as well as a Kids egg & lolly.
We want to bring vegan and free from chocolate to the masses and hopefully we are well on our way to achieving this.
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