Food Workshop

Granola for Gangsters: a new variation on an old product

Granola for Gangsters has put an unconventional twist to the wholesome and healthy breakfast cereal.

3 Feb 2017

For many, granola conjures up images of nice Waitrose shoppers choosing between one brown cardboard package of Dorset Cereals and another. ‘We wanted to rebel against the boring breakfast,’ Sarah Napier, founder of Granola for Gangsters says.

From packaging with fun ‘G’ illustrations to the jokey language used on its website, Amsterdam-based Granola for Gangsters has created a brand miles away from the virtuous and hippyish persona associated with healthy cereal.

Brand values

Granola for Gangsters is pushing what’s expected from a cereal brand, but its ‘urban’ tone is likely to alienate as many as it attracts. Co-opting street language has rubbed customers up the wrong way before.

Thug Kitchen, an American food blog, received criticism after its anonymous authors were revealed to be two white Californians using phrases such as ‘aw-yeah bitch’ and ‘shit is lit’ as part of their brand persona.

Napier is banking on customers sharing the brand’s sense of humour (‘there is really nothing “gangster” about what we’re doing,’ she says), and time will tell if suppliers are put off or intrigued by this bold personality.

Exploding oats

The famous department store Harvey Nichols is taking a chance on the boisterous brand. Last October, the store’s food buyer contacted Napier after spotting the product on Instagram. ‘It’s one of those things that makes you think, OK, we’re not just sending stuff out into the ether for no reason,’ Napier says.

Production has consequently ramped up; from baking one or two kilograms of granola a week when starting out in 2015, massive batches of 20 to 50 kilograms are now baked on a weekly basis.

It’s is a strong show in a market where the big snack companies are struggling for growth – according to Nielsen, the 25 biggest food companies, including Kellogg and Mondelez, only accounted for 3% of market growth from 2011 to 2015. Nearly 50% of growth over the same period was generated by a large number of smaller businesses like Granola for Gangsters.

Napier’s background as a graphic designer has certainly helped to generate buzz around a not-all-that-new product. Leaving her home town of Melbourne in her early 20s, Napier took on branding roles in the UK and Italy before settling in the Netherlands.

When her employer went bust in May 2016, Napier decided to go full time with granola. It’s a gamble that looks to be paying off, and for 2017 the focus is to get ‘more people eating it more of the time’ by expanding into more cafes and grocery shops, as well as gyms and hotels.