Sam Dennigan

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One year ago, Sam Dennigan got his plant-based brand into Whole Foods stores nationwide just before most retailers stopped adding new products to their shelves during the pandemic. Despite the good timing, Dennigan faced another problem as society shut down: How could he promote Strong Roots to new customers?

Strong Roots makes products including pumpkin-based burgers and spinach bites. It had been selling for years in Ireland, but it had been in the US for less than a year.

“We couldn’t put it in peoples’ hands to tell them about it,” Dennigan told Insider. “A lot of people took advantage of mass-media marketing. We just didn’t have the budget for that.”

That’s when he got inspiration from Ghost Truck Kitchen, a ghost kitchen operation two blocks from his home in New Jersey. Ghost kitchens, basically restaurants without dining rooms that cater to delivery and takeout orders, have been increasingly embraced by restaurants as a relatively affordable solution for growth and awareness. 

“I had ordered food from this place a couple of times, and it was really high-quality,” he said. He started messaging owner Andrew Martino on Instagram. Two weeks later, Ghost Truck was cooking up Strong Roots’ products for its customers. Its most popular items include two sandwiches: one featuring buffalo cauliflower hash browns, and another that’s a plant-based take on a banh mi.

Read more: This entrepreneur with no beverage experience just got his new drink on Whole Foods shelves. Here’s how he did it, and how his experience auctioning art at Sotheby’s played a key role

Initially, Dennigan viewed the partnership as an experiment. His alternatives for marketing were limited, with stores unable to sample brands’ products and big ad buys beyond Strong Roots’ budget. And it was geographically limited, extending only to a few nearby zip codes that the ghost kitchen served.

But the more he sold through Ghost Truck, the more information he got about how customers perceived his product. At one point, Strong Roots added coupons to purchase in-store products to the delivered meals, which allowed the brand to track how many consumers bought their products at grocery stores after ordering them through Ghost Truck. The restaurant orders themselves also provided useful feedback, Dennigan said, since …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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This new plant-based food brand sells in Whole Foods and Walmart. But its CEO thinks the best way to end up on consumers’ plates is ghost kitchens.

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