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Why Bear Naked is Letting People Build Their Own Granola
CircleUpJune.07.20173 min read

Why Bear Naked is Letting People Build Their Own Granola

How does a boring bowl of granola evolve into an elaborate Snapchat Story or get shared on Instagram?


We’re living in an age of personalization: we can do our grocery shopping at midnight in our pajamas from our couches. We can tailor our browsing experiences so we’re only seeing products that appeal to us. It’s only natural that brands are using it to get closer to their customers.

Creating a personal, customized product is a way to get customers truly bought into your brand, but it’s not enough to stamp “Julie” on your soda can and hope Julie comes along and buys it. The next frontier of personalization goes way further — it brings people closer by giving them a hand in the creative process.

Let’s see how it’s done by looking at customization innovator, Bear Naked.

Bear Naked Was Founded On Homemade, Crafted Values

Bear Naked’s origin story has personalization at heart. When Kelly Flatley founded Bear Naked in 2002 with her high school buddy Brendan Synott, she was baking batches of granola during the night and selling them during the day, delivering to stores, and hand-placing the bunches on the shelves.

The team took the same hustle to getting direct customer feedback. They crashed triathlons with samples for the athletes, and spent years touring around the tristate area gathering opinions and early adopters.

As Bear Naked grew and was acquired by Kellogg, it could have easily lost that on-the-ground personal touch, but the brand manages a very impressive feat: it gets more personal as it scales.

It’s building a digital platform that gives customers an addictive personalized experience they can share with their friends, over and over again. At Bear Naked Custom you can choose your granola ingredients, create a custom blend and put a personal stamp on the packaging before having it delivered to you or someone you know.

So why is Bear Naked’s approach so successful and how can you emulate it?

Give Customers Creative Power

If a customer has had a hand in creating their product, they’ll be more invested in it.

When people visit the custom granola site, they’re greeted with tons of options, laid out like ingredients in a pantry. People can pick and mix cereals, fruits, nuts, plus unusual chef-picked ingredients.


Source: Bear Naked


With natural food trends continuing to proliferate, people are gravitating toward home-cooked, hand-picked foods, while still demanding convenience. Bear Naked’s approach offers the best of both worlds. Customers have the experience of hand crafting their blend without having to drive to the farmer’s market and pay premium prices for every individual ingredient. It also means that the custom granola tubes are perfect for sharing as gifts, expanding Bear Naked’s reach.

Mixing Organic Ingredient With Advanced Technology To Springboard Sharing

Personalized products are great for sharing — that’s no revelation. But Bear Naked capitalized on its shareability by creating a digital platform, rather than just an e-commerce page. The Bear Naked custom portal is powered by IBM’s intelligent ingredient picker, Chef Watson. Using IBM’s API, Bear Naked can integrate Watson into its platform, and generate attractive, complementary ingredient combinations.

What’s more, because the Bear Naked platform is built on Salesforce, Bear Naked can suggest personal combinations of ingredients based on selections the customer has already made.

Customers already feel a sense of ownership, so they’re primed for sharing their tastes and preferences with friends and send personalized gifts. Bear Naked’s native digital platform creates the springboard for that viral loop.

They’re Expanding Their Audience With Company Collaborations

Granola brings together diverse ingredients, crossing different niches in the health food space. Bear Naked spotted this as an opportunity to expand its audience by connecting with other brand creators.

SourceBare Snacks, Instagram

Last year, Bare Snacks joined Bear Naked with a toasted coconut granola ingredient, and the options for further collaborations are pretty much limitless. Breweries, coffee roasters, specialty honey brands — the potential Venn diagram is vast, with Bear Naked at the center.

Create A Customizable Kitchen

Imagine bringing your customers, one by one, into your brand’s kitchen. Showing them your ingredients, telling them where they’re sourced, letting them crumble and drizzle their own ingredients into their own bowl, and creating something unique. It tastes just as good as the latest premium brand at Whole Foods, but it’s special because it’s theirs.

Think of your e-commerce platform as your digital kitchen — it allows you to expose the heart of your operation to customers while helping you scale.