Episode 16 | How “Inside the Box” Innovation Helped Project 7 Disrupt the Gum Industry

Part Two with Project 7 Founder Tyler Merrick

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When we last left Project 7 founder Tyler Merrick, a few missteps and some bad luck had put Project 7 in a bad spot. As in, “this might kill the business” bad spot.

Rather than give up, Tyler asked himself, “If we were to take one more shot at it, what would that look like?”

The rest is CPG history. Tyler killed all product categories except one, and doubled down on an old strategy from his days in pet food.

And it paid off. Tyler and Project 7 disrupted a declining category and pulled of the impossible, becoming the top selling gum at major retailers like Target. Most importantly, Tyler and his team have been able to make a huge impact in the 7 areas of need that inspired Project 7 in the first place.

Takeaways & Recap:

  • If you really want to make a difference, lead with product and brand. It doesn’t matter how great your cause marketing is or how charitable your customer. At the end of the day, features and benefits drive consumer behavior. You need a thriving business before you can give back.
  • Hire smart. Not sure whether or not make that next hire? Only pull the trigger if you’re confident the revenue they bring in will be 2.5x their salary.
  • Let your sales numbers tell a story. Start with the buyers who are on board with your concept in order to provide proof of concept – show some momentum and you’ll have a nice little velocity story to bring to the more skeptical buyers.
  • Practice Radical Responsibility. Tyler had to make some hard choices, and he maintained his credibility as a leader by shouldering some of the blame.
  • Innovate inside the box. You can diversify your product line without adding too much risk by innovating within limitations.

Jump to

  • The strategy that would bring Project 7 back from the brink, and disrupt the gum industry in the process. 2:18
  • How Tyler and the team went about the business of repairing relationships and getting back on shelves. 7:15
  • How Tyler deployed “Inside the Box Innovation”to jump to the top of their category and diversify their offering. 13:30
  • Finally, Tyler returns to the mission and purpose that inspired Project 7 in the process. 22:21

Links

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Brand Builder is a co-production of SnackNation and ForceBrands.