Founder Jared Talla, whose favorite snack is nut butter, believed that the nut butter category needed a little more innovation as he found most products on the market to either be healthy, "but too plain and boring," or had an ingredient deck that contained artificial ingredients and added sugar.
Talla experimented in his home kitchen to create his vision of nut butter making a blend of cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and MCT oil.
"Really the baseline was no sugar," Talla told FoodNavigator-USA.
Talla began selling his two varieties of nut butters -- cinnamon vanilla and chocolate reishi -- at the Los Angeles farmers market at the beginning of 2019.
"Much to my surprise, people liked it and kept telling their friends. I think the biggest shock [for people] was that there was no sugar in it and they kept looking at the ingredient deck to see if there was anything else in there," he said.
To keep the sweetness profile up, the brand added monkfruit to its cinnamon vanilla, chocolate reishi, and classic flavors.
The positive feedback led Talla to launch two more varieties: rosemary and a classic flavor containing just the nut blend and MCT oil.
"I was very hesitant about doing a plain, at first, but I got enough feedback, that people were looking for a plain flavor," said Talla.
Getting the branding right
Another piece of feedback Talla received from customers was that he needed to invest more in branding. He enlisted the help of Scout Lab in New York City to overhaul the company's packaging, logo design, website, and online marketing.
While technically a functional product that communicates health benefits (brain function, gut health, and heart health), Talla and the Scout Lab team were careful not to come across as overly functional.
"We’re not trying to shove a bunch of health facts down people’s throats because that’s when it gets very boring and sales-y," said Talla.
Instead the brand focused on crafting a healthy, yet still playful, image, while "not crossing the line of making it look like a children’s brand."
According to Talla, while the brand is trying to attract all health-conscious adults, its target audience is females between the ages of 25 and 44 who have a little extra disposable income as the one 9-ounce jar has a SRP of $14.99
DTC retail focus
While still a tiny company, Talla noted that the brand has seen an increase in online sales since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Research&Markets, demand for nut and seed butters rose 163% in April as consumers increasingly turned to shelf-stable pantry foods.
According to Talla, the brand is pouring more efforts and resources into its DTC business to take advantage of the trend.
"I think that there’s an amazing opportunity for us to becoming an even stronger DTC brand [because of this]," he said.
And while the brand's immediate priority is building its online presence, brick-and-mortar stores have not fallen off its radar.
Shortly after its farmers market appearance in 2019, Butterfly entered Erewhon stores. And while many retailers hit pause on new product rollouts over the last few months, Butterfly nut butters will enter Whole Foods southwest retail stores this September offering more exposure to the brand's core demographic of health-conscious consumers.