Ambitious Brands: Peppersmith

Lizzie Bartholomew, marketing director at Peppersmith, explores the power of ambition and explains how it’s shaping the sugar free confectionery brand.

This year we’re hosting a series of intimate supper clubs curated to inspire brand leaders and marketers, entitled Building a Beautiful Business.

At our first evening on May 17th, the lovely Lizzie – marketing director at Peppersmith – shared her thoughts on the power and purpose of Ambition and explained how it has fundamentally changed the way they do business. We caught up with her afterwards to hear more.

What’s unique about the Peppersmith brand and how has it grown and changed since it was founded 10 years ago?

Peppersmith’s journey began when co-founders Mike and Dan saw healthier brands appearing in nearly every category, except confectionery. They couldn’t understand why mints and gum were being left behind, especially when they have such high daily use. Peppersmith is different from other brands as it doesn’t contain sugar or any artificial sweeteners. Usually mints and gum contain one or the other, so the consumer is forced to make a trade-off between taste and health. We’re here to show this doesn’t have to be the case.

The brand has evolved significantly over the last 10 years. At the beginning we set out to create a craft chewing gum, then the focus moved to dental benefits, and now sugar free is our core message. We want to show that while they may be functional, not all mints and gum are created equal.

Would you describe Peppersmith as a Beautiful Business?

This comes down to the values at the heart of the business and Peppersmith has had a strong sense of purpose from the start. We have a manifesto which the whole team has helped to build; including six core values which reflect our take on the world and how we do things. Having this common playbook means we’re always striving, but doing it in the right way.

As disruptors of the confectionery category, how much value does Peppersmith place on brand aesthetics?

We place a lot of value on how we look as it’s our primary channel of communication with consumers. We’re always searching for ways to take our visual brand to the next level and we’re open to trying different things. That’s the great thing about being a challenger brand – you have a bit more license to be playful with your look and feel.

That said, you also have to have the depth to back it up. We’re big believers in style and substance.

What has the role of ambition been in building Peppersmith as both a brand and business?

Taking on the big world of confectionery took ambition from the start. It’s a category dominated by several big players and this can make it seem hard to break through, especially when you don’t have deep pockets. But we want to challenge the big brands, so we try to avoid being apologetically small. Our approach is about creating the perfect blend of ambition and strategy.

Do you think ambition is an essential quality within every business and brand?

Definitely. But ambition itself isn’t enough. You also need to have a strong set of values which give the brand and the business a purpose. Ambition gets you started, but at 10 years+ it’s purpose and vision that gives a brand longevity.

Do you think there are other industries that could benefit from being more ambitious?

The bottled water category will need to be more ambitious when it comes to sustainability over the coming years – it’s a no brainer. I also look at sports nutrition and see so many opportunities for harnessing natural ingredients, rather than the chemistry set of artificial sweeteners that are currently used.

Who would you describe as the poster girl(s)/boy(s) for ambition, and why?

I’m inspired by the world of sport, so Mo Farah is a winner for me. He always strives to be the best in the world, not just in the UK. Even after switching from track to road, he still attempts to break records. I think he’s also done a brilliant job of encouraging young people to take part in sport, particularly around London.

What other brands do you see embracing ambition in an exciting way?

Brands that are taking a lead on sustainability are really exciting for me as they’re extending ambition beyond just the brand, to the planet as well. Nudie jeans do this well by offering free repairs for life and a discount when you trade in your old pair. Ecover have created a washing up liquid bottle made solely from PCR plastic, which gives a purpose to recycled plastics. Brands like this show that you really can use business as a force for good.

How do you want ambition to help carve the future of the Peppersmith brand?

Ambition will help us to step up and become a leader within mainstream confectionery. We don’t want to be niche or premium – our mission is about bringing healthier confectionery to anyone who wants it.

Do you have any advice for marketers who want to leverage ambition within their brand proposition?

You need to make sure that the brand ambition resonates with the team on a personal level. Even if the strategy is solid, you need a personal connection to generate momentum behind the brand.

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