This is part of our #SmileABCs series highlighting and in-depth with small business and e-commerce brands. View the full series here.
When you think of high-protein, low-carb, healthy meals, waffles probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. Well, Viking Waffles is here to change that. Inspired by his family’s traditional, authentic Norwegian waffle recipe, Benedikt Engen decided to move from Norway to New York to share this delicious treat with the world, but with a healthy twist.
“Being a soccer player, living an active healthy lifestyle focused on performance, combined with studying medicine, I decided to start experimenting with my own diet,” shares Benedict. After playing around with the recipe, she was able to recreate her favorite waffle recipe, keeping the taste and texture of a traditional waffle, but increasing the protein content, reducing the simple carbs and sugars, and making them gluten-free.
Today, 7 years after being on sale, Viking Waffles are a favorite among professional athletes, supermodels, families, diabetics, busy professionals, and anyone who enjoys a delicious, guilt-free meal every day.
Building a tribe of waffle lovers
Taking off any e-commerce business as a sole proprietor is difficult, and Benedict took on this challenge after moving across the Atlantic to a new country. Fortunately, he had a strong community waiting for him. “From the very beginning of founding Viking Waffles, alone in New York, one thing that has kept me going is trusting customer feedback, which has also shaped the product and the macros,” says Benedict.
For the past 7 years, Viking Waffles has harnessed the power of community at every step of the journey. From baking waffles in a church kitchen to starting a local bakery to expanding to a full team, the brand has attracted waffle lovers, fitness enthusiasts and other health-minded people along the way.
“Most people appreciate the brand’s commitment to using pure and natural ingredients to create a product that not only tastes great, but is good for their health and high in protein.”
– Benedicte Engen, founder of Viking Waffles
Whether consumers are drawn to the convenience and portability of waffles or the great taste and exciting flavors, there is something for everyone. Viking Waffles also lets its Norweigein roots shine through the brand, embracing health as a whole. “I share the Nordic health habits, some are attracted to the idea of a product that celebrates Norwegian tradition and culture, but also offers a modern and healthy twist.”
Viking Waffles’ social media is flooded with user-generated content from lifestyle influencers, fitness enthusiasts and busy moms, to name a few. Customers love to share their unique waffle recipes and what draws them to the brand.
“The loyalty program is a great way for us to create a more positive shopping experience, increase customer satisfaction, help increase customer retention and drive sales.”
Viking Waffles offers a loyalty program called Waffle Perks to create an engaging and rewarding customer experience. Customers can earn 5 points for every dollar spent, plus points for following on social media, celebrating a birthday or simply signing up. They can then redeem their points for discounts on their next shipment of waffles.
Wondering what Viking Waffle’s recipe is for building a strong community? Well, one of the not-so-secret ingredients has to be her fun, light-hearted social media strategy.
Benedicta has always seen social media as a way to express her “waffle heart” freely and playfully. To this day, Viking Waffle’s Instagram and TikTok is filled with silly waffle memes, content about Norwegian culture, health and wellness tips, behind-the-scenes videos, and UGC of creative customer recipes. “I’m still amazed at how much fun other people create,” admits Benedict. Social media has become a place for customers to connect with the brand and each other while finding inspiration to live healthier lifestyles.
“To this day, that’s the culture I try to foster at Viking Waffles. You can find some fun production videos in between the hard work at Viking Waffles Bakery that we hope can spread some positive vibes and waffle smiles.”
Viking Waffles also does a fantastic job of promoting their range of products on social media. All personal content features product shots and videos showcasing new and fan-favorite products. Benedict shares his favorite way to enjoy a Viking waffle. “I like the Viking Waffles with our own Viking Butter, caramel flavored butter with collagen protein, sprinkled with cinnamon.” We don’t know about you, but our mouths are totally watering.
Whether it’s theirs pathetic Beautiful product shots or fun Instagram Reels, Viking Waffles has grown its social following to over 140,000 followers.
Advice for new entrepreneurs
Viking Waffles is clearly a prime example of successful e-commerce brand growth. But it didn’t happen overnight. It took years of hard work, determination and a lot of u a lot from waffles. Benedict shared some of his advice for new e-commerce businesses.
“Focus on your target audience. Understand their needs and preferences and adjust your products, pricing and marketing strategies accordingly,” says Benedict. What started as a waffle brand has become a cult classic with this mindset. Today, Viking Waffles offers a wider variety of products, including protein spreads, cookie dough, and even Viking apparel and mugs for customers to proudly replicate their waffle love.
Whatever your brand is, make your values clear in every channel and it will attract the right customers. “I’m sure your mood will appeal to your tribe.” So if you’re thinking of starting your own brand, focus on your target audience, tailor your brand accordingly, and connect authentically with customers. And maybe eat some brain food to get the ideas flowing; we happen to know of a snack that would be perfect. 😉
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