If ever you’ve found yourself mindlessly trawling through benign Facebook feeds only to suddenly be drooling over a ‘how to make’ video of a garlic dough ball being plunged into an oozing pool of baked camembert, or melted cheese being poured over a platter of beef burgers, you already know Chefclub.
A label like ‘food porn’ doesn’t even come close. Some of this content is pure filth. And, presented in short burst videos that will have your eyes popping out of your head and tongue fully on the floor, it’s some of the best-marketed of its kind.
For the past three years, Chefclub has commanded the Facebook platform, and is today, the fastest growing brand across all social platforms. It also boasts a newly launched licensing programme headed up by the industry guru Marie-Laure Marchand, which could go some way to explain why there’s such excitement cooking around the potential for this social media food and drink IP.
Licensing,biz catches up with Marchand to dive head first – willingly – in the culinary world of Chefclub.
Can you talk us through the Chefclub concept? What is it and how is it resonating with audiences?
Chefclub was started by three brothers in Paris in 2016 who wanted to have fun in the kitchen. With a previous track record in the social gaming industry, they identified a growth opportunity at the crossroad of video and cooking.
Chefclub was born in people’s pantries with the ambition to create extraordinary recipes with basic ingredients. From the start, they invested on content turning simple video recipes into popular entertainment capable of reaching millions of viewers. With this unique positioning, Chefclub has been for three years the world’s fastest growing brand on social platforms.
Our tagline is “It’s showtime in the kitchen”. We do not film recipes, we create fun, entertaining and approachable video content, and extraordinary culinary experiences.
How has the Chefclub catalogue grown over that time?
Chefclub’s catalogue has grown and is now organised into five market-driven channels, each capturing a targeted audience. We have Chefclub Original, Chefclub Daily, Chefclub Kids, Chefclub Light & Fun, and Chefclub Cocktails.
The accurate positioning of each channel creates unparalleled opportunities to franchise the content and offer dedicated products and services. Direct to consumer publishing is a first example of ways of turning viewers into customers and 500,000 books have been sold directly so far.
How are you bringing the Chefclub brand into the licensing space? What is your vision for what Chefclub can achieve in terms of licensing?
Chefclub has successfully taken advantage of social media platforms to introduce and continuously strengthen the brand in front of the largest possible audience – all while transforming viewers into shoppers.
We enter commerce in two ways: either directly through the creation of content-based products and services or indirectly by granting Chefclub licenses to expert partners, widening our distribution channels. On top of our book line created internally under Chefclub Editions label, we are also developing our own range of licensed products and involve our community in the co-creation process.
This is extremely rewarding for our followers to see their ideas and feedbacks taken into account. We have released a first bakery set under the Chefclub Merveilles brand and offer an extra experience with an access to video recipes and more products will follow.
The kitchen is a tremendous land of opportunity and Chefclub has built healthy foundations in order to harvest multiple licensing opportunities in the kitchen space. As long as Chefclub maintains trust and credibility through superior high quality content, the brand is relevant under multiple forms.
There is a whole untapped space for food-related brands and we have identified kitchenware, bakeware, tools and gadgets, food and beverages, DTR, promotion, homeware, stationary, in-store events, publishing as the key categories for Chefclub to concentrate on.
We will aim to develop out footprint into these key categories. We are already in close negotiations with major partners and will be able to make some announcements in the coming months hopefully, so stay tuned.
So within your role, what will you be doing to build out the Chefclub’s licensing programme?
Given the exceptional rapid growth of the brand on social media, Chefclub’s team has been approached by many partners to discuss licensing deals. I came on board to fill up this need and take over these negotiations. I joined mid-May and my first task has been to create a licensing division from scratch, creating all the necessary tools and structure to pave the ground of a successful business.
My dual experience in licensing and media distribution will also be crucial to the company as one of our strategic goals will be to get our content on TV or SVOD platforms to widen our footprint. We will first attend major trade shows and start pitching the brand to key licensees and retailers. We will appoint rep agents in Europe, North America, Latam and Asia to get a local presence. The French market, our home territory, will be managed in house.
Why is now the right time to be developing out a Chefclub licensing programme? Why is this brand resonating so well with consumers today? What does this say about consumers today, the current market place and the role of licensing today?
We invested first on building a data-driven production organisation with no regards for costs and monetisation when most players were trying to maximise advertising revenues while minimising production costs.
What may have appeared as an irrational investment has evolved into high-quality entertainment leading viewers to an emotional attachment and trust of our brand. Emotions and trust are key ingredients to a licensing success nowadays and our brand can bring both.
Our five-channel network gives us a competitive advantage as no other players have diversified to this extent. The French “je ne sais quoi” will definitely be appealing and help Chefclub get a powerful pool of international licensees.
As you know, retail and media consumption are encountering major changes and staying competitive in the licensing market means being able to learn and adapt quickly to consumers’ needs. Consumers are showing a growing interest in brands they engage with on social media and want to be offered innovative products and experiences.
Retailers or licensees are eager to partner with brands that can bring this extra miles. With 80 million engaged followers, Chefclub can offer an immersive experience including innovative products, videos, events and huge social media exposure with a beloved brand.
What is the health of the food and drink licensing space like today? What kind of growth is it likely to see in the coming years?
The global food and beverage (F&B) market has seen healthy growth over the last ten years and this is expected to continue. This is being driven by changing consumer shopping habits and the growth of ‘experience retailing’, reflecting consumers’ desire to enhance their physical shopping experience with a social/leisure experience. This is happening not only in the mature retail markets such as the US or Europe, but also in fast growing markets in Asia or Middle East.
Per Licensing International fifth global survey, overall global retail sales of licensed products reached 280.3 B US$ in 2018 with a 3.2 per cent growth. Food and drinks category accounts for 6 per cent of this global licensing retail sales with a slight growth compared to 2017.
I am convinced that there are tremendous untapped opportunities for food/cooking brands and that there are major business opportunities for Chefclub ahead.
How does food and drink licensing tap into emerging trends in licensing and consumer space, such as experiential licensing?
Food, beverage and cooking are universal, everybody needs to eat, drink or cook and this is why there are fantastic opportunities to develop brand licensing into that space.
Of course, experiential licensing is on our radar and we already have had a successful experience last December 2018 in Paris. Chefclub opened up a Pop Store within one of the biggest Parisian train stations during the holiday season.
Six screens showing Chefclub most amazing recipes and a full range of branded products from books, home accessories, teas, stationary were displayed and offered to the public. This initiative has been extremely positive and reinforced the fact that Chefclub had the potential to go beyond the digital screen and become a successful physical brand. We will develop more initiatives in the future.
What can this brand bring to the retail space and why should retailers be looking to get in on the Chefclub action?
Changing shopping habits coupled with consumer’s desire to enhance their physical shopping experience with a social/leisure component has led to the development of experiential retailing.
Retailers are looking for ways to reconnect with their clients by giving them additional on or offline experiences and a beloved cooking brand such as Chefclub could be the missing piece of the puzzle for them.