The Power of One—Success from a Single Ingredient

April 3, 2018

When you think of big, successful brands, you probably think of ones with a fairly varied portfolio of products—and therefore ingredients. That’s true even for brands that tend to stick to one category, like ice cream icon Ben & Jerry’s or barbeque sauce brand Sweet Baby Ray’s. So is it possible for a retailer or brand to make it big by staking their claim on a single ingredient? Turns out, a growing number of companies are proving that’s exactly the case.

One example of a successful single-ingredient brand is The Ginger People—a global brand that’s been around for over 30 years. As its name implies, The Ginger People focuses on all-things-ginger, with a portfolio of nearly 80 products containing everything from ginger candies, to ginger beverages, to ginger-based cooking sauces.

Up-and-coming Italian brand BambuBio is taking a similar approach with bamboo, having created a line of bamboo-based foods that includes a range of categories including bread, pasta and even cheese. Other examples include DRINKmaple (focusing on maple water), The Jackfruit Company (focusing on jackfruit as a vegetarian protein) and Ethan’s (focusing on apple cider vinegar beverages).

A big part of what makes single-ingredient brands like these successful, says Carl Jorgensen, Director of Thought Leadership for Daymon, is their ability to differentiate. “With an interesting ingredient like bamboo, there are lots of ways to differentiate your product and to generate buzz,” he explains.

Single-ingredient brands also tend to tap into the clean label/limited-ingredient trend. “The fewer ingredients there are, the more consumers like it,” says Jorgensen. “There are some brands that have products that literally use a single ingredient, like specialty teas made from just one type of tea leaves. There are people who are absolute fanatics about those kinds of products.”

Jorgensen is quick to point out that the potential for capitalizing on the single-ingredient trend isn’t limited to national brands. “It lends itself terrifically to private brand. You could create a line of products that contains a featured ingredient—say 12 products that contain turmeric, like a turmeric latte, a turmeric shot, turmeric spiced meals, etc. When you pull that together into a curated offering, that gets a lot of attention.”

To help mitigate the potential risks of relying on a single ingredient—for example, that a trendy ingredient loses popularity or commodity prices fluctuate significantly—retailers may consider creating limited edition products. “Many retailers don’t tend to think in terms of seasonality or limited-time-only with their private brands, but there’s no reason they can’t do it. It just requires a bit of shift in thinking,” explains Jorgensen. “Not only does it allow retailers to try out trends, it also creates a sense of discovery and anticipation for consumers. They look forward to seeing what’s next.”