Why Is Crumbl Cookies So Popular?
Crumbl started with “one big dream, two crazy cousins, and the goal to create the world’s best chocolate chip cookie.”
Sawyer Hemsley (COO) and Jason McGowan (CEO) dove into the world of baking and tested their cookies one ingredient at a time, asking random passersby at local gas stations and grocery stores to try two cookies side-by-side and answer one question:
“Which of these two cookies is best?”
In just a few years, Crumbl Cookies has become a billion-dollar brand known for its high-quality ingredients, iconic pink packaging, and viral TikToks. Let’s take a deeper look into how they’ve done this.
- Crumbl Cookies was founded by two cousins, Sawyer Hemsley and Jason McGowan, in 2017.
- The company built a massive audience on social media, with over 5 million followers on TikTok alone.
- The cookie company uses social media to acquire customers and build awareness for much less than competitors.
- The rotating menu induces a sense of scarcity that gets customers to purchase when their favorite flavors are available and plays on the fear of missing out.
What Crumbl Has Gotten Right
This cookie franchise has gone from being founded in 2017 to having 537 stores open today.
Not only that, they have an average unit volume of $1.68 million and an average net profit per store of ~$357,000. The rapid growth combined with the high profitability is unheard of in franchising, and as a system, they’re on track to do over $1 billion in revenue this year!
To emphasize that, within five years, this franchise has become a unicorn.
Yes, I’m aware that not everyone loves their cookies, but that’s not the point of this deep dive.
The taste may be subjective, but there are other aspects to Crumbl that they’ve objectively gotten right.
Crumbl is an example of a modern franchise — founded by two cousins who understand technology and social media, they applied the leverage of the internet to a franchise system, and the results have been nothing short of amazing.
Emerging franchises should take note of this to apply to their own business, as well as aspiring franchisees who are in search of what a top franchise looks like in 2022.
Here are five reasons why Crumbl has grown so quickly:
Whatever your business is, you should strive for an exceptional product or service.
When it comes to Crumbl, cookies are obviously not a differentiated product — Mrs. Fields, Nestle, etc., have been dominating the industry for years. But that didn’t stop Crumbl from trying to make their cookie special.
The founders spend thousands of dollars A/B testing recipes and apparently would hang out at gas stations to ask civilians to taste-test their cookies.
That may sound crazy, but they were obsessed with creating “the world’s best chocolate chip cookie,” and they didn’t stop until they felt it was perfect.
Crumbl’s internal motto is “it’s all about the details.”
That’s why every take-out + delivery order goes into their iconic pink packaging. Whether it’s a 4, 6, or 12-pack box, each is designed to fit the cookies side-by-side & create the perfect unboxing experience.
With over 500 locations nationwide, Crumbl is now known for its packaging, as cookie fans nationwide think of Crumbl when they see their packaging.
The attention to detail is what I love most about this aspect of Crumbl — many founders are naturally juggling so many different things when launching their business that the packaging may be overlooked.
Crumbl’s founders turned this aspect of the business into something that strengthens their brand every day with each order.
3. Social Media
Crumbl has built a MASSIVE audience on social media. Here’s a quick rundown:
- TikTok: 5.6M followers
- Twitter: 531K followers
- Instagram: 2.1M followers
- YouTube: 774K subscribers
This is an insane scale and puts their social following cumulatively just ~15% below McDonald’s, the biggest franchise in the world that’s been around since 1955.
Crumbl uses social media to acquire customers and build awareness for much less advertising dollars than competitors. They also do a weekly “unboxing” show on YouTube that draws in 100,000+ viewers a week and keeps their brand top of mind for customers!
If you’re still sleeping on social media as a differentiator for your business, it’s time to wake up! Social media, especially TikTok, is starting to play a larger and larger role culturally. If you don’t believe me — read about why tens of thousands of Gen Z’s recently wore suits to movie theaters to watch Minions.
Speaking of the weekly “unboxing” show, Crumbl does that because of their weekly rotating menu.
While the chocolate chip cookie + sugar cookie is a staple to Crumbl’s menu, they rotate five other flavors on a weekly basis.
So yes, this means you may not get your favorite cookie every single week. I’ve received replies on Twitter that denounce this as bad business, but I firmly disagree.
The rotating menu induces a sense of scarcity that gets customers to purchase when their favorite flavors are indeed available. Not only that, it keeps fans and customers engaged and on the lookout for their favorite flavors via social media.
Given the revenue and profitability numbers per store, it’s safe to say this method works for business.
Crumbl has invested in technology from the get-go. The 1st corporate hire was a Senior Tech Lead at Facebook, and what they’ve built is impressive.
New franchisees that onboard receive internal KPI tracking that allows them to measure themselves by:
- Cook times
- Delivery times
- Product availability
- And more
This is undoubtedly critical for Crumbl’s franchisees to perform well, as they’re instantly able to see if they’re falling short in a particular area.
Beyond franchisees, Crumbl has fantastic consumer-facing technology too.
Customers can use the mobile app to order delivery, pickup, catering, digital gift cards, and more to incentivize users to follow them on social media in exchange for “Crumbs,” creating a fantastic feedback loop for Crumbl.
That’s How the Cookie Crumbles…
Crumbl is the perfect example of what a modern brick & mortar franchise should strive to look like.
Crumbl has a proven brand, product, and operating system — franchisees want to buy into a franchise so that they can access those things on day 1, and skip the time & money it’d take to figure it out on their own.
It’s obvious Crumbl provides a ton of value, which is why franchisees have bought in all over the country.