I’m not a fan of cupcakes. The sickly sweet buttercream frosting that towers over a usually blah cake has never appealed to me, so when I heard about an “anti-cupcake” dessert establishment my sweet tooth was intrigued.
Like most startups, SugarMoo is the result of frustrations faced by its founders. Raki Phillips and Jawad Yehyia noticed that while the dessert market in the UAE is not small, it lacked options other than traditional Arabic sweets or the cupcake craze. There also was not a dessert operation that focused on delivery, which posed an obvious opportunity to them considering 60% of UAE residents order food to their homes at least once a week*.
Together they launched SugarMoo to fill this gap with what they call hybrid desserts that often mix Eastern and Western influences for some of the most unexpected of concoctions (Pistachio Rosewater Baklava Cheesecake, anyone?). Together with their team, they labored to create a menu of desserts that truly stood out from the crowd and tasted as good as they looked.
To further differentiate their business, the pair decided to focus on delivery as their main distribution channel, which allows them to reach a wider customer base than a traditional brick and mortar store. They also provide a comprehensive online ordering process on their website, which is not common in the dessert market and aims to make the ordering experience as smooth as possible.
One of the key strengths of this strategy is the brand promise of delivery of fresh products in under 90 minutes. “It took many months to develop the most effective strategy on how to deliver from our oven straight to your door. From an operations and logistics perspective, we made sure to hire the best team achieve that,” said Phillips in an interview with The Marketing Spark.
While most of the company’s sales happen online, the brand is also extremely active offline within the community as part of their marketing strategy. SugarMoo has taken part in a myriad of events such as Street Nights, RedFest DXB, and Ripe Market. Phillips believes activities such as these help to increase brand awareness and promote word of mouth among the community.
Social media is also a key tool in SugarMoo’s marketing strategy, and Phillips stresses that they try to ensure their pages all stay true to the brand’s ethos. “Being connected on social media in this day and age is crucial and I think that running a social media platform that is reflective of business rather than it being a dainty Instagram page is more effective,” he said.
After less than a year in the market, the team is already eyeing expansion into Abu Dhabi and other GCC markets. With new products under development in the kitchen as well, it seems this sweet startup is ready to show the Middle East that there is more to dessert than baklava and cupcakes.
*KPMG UAE 2015 Food & Beverage Survey
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