Jamie Laing, a name synonymous with the McVitie’s biscuit fortune, has crafted his own path to success with the innovative sweet brand, Candy Kittens

First entering the public eye in 2011 on Made in Chelsea, Laing has transitioned from reality TV star to a reputable entrepreneur. Laing’s journey from influencer to business mogul has not only kept him in the public consciousness but also turned Candy Kittens into a household name. 

Alongside his business endeavours, Laing has made his mark as a podcast host, co-hosting ‘Newly Weds‘ with his wife, Sophie Habboo, and stepping into a prime-time role on BBC Radio 1’s ‘Going Home Show,’ replacing Jordan North.

The Birth and Growth of Candy Kittens

Established in 2012 with his business partner Ed Williams, Candy Kittens was born out of a desire to revolutionise the confectionery market. Despite its early reliance on Laing’s celebrity status, the brand has since carved out a distinct identity, boasting a turnover of £8 million in 2022. 

The road to success was fraught with challenges, with Laing and Williams learning the intricacies of the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector through experience and perseverance.

Speaking recently at the IAB UK‘s ‘Engage’ show, Laing detailed the numerous obstacles they overcame, including the significant decision to reject a lucrative offer from Primark

Primark approached them at a time when Candy Kittens had no money, offering a substantial deal to stock their sweets. However, Laing and Williams decided against it, believing that it would alter the brand’s identity

Laing highlighted a crucial piece of advice he received: “Business is paid in two currencies, cash and experience. Take the experience first and the cash will come later.”

Turning Points and Strategic Decisions

The real breakthrough for Candy Kittens came with their entry into Waitrose, which provided the brand with credibility and access to a new customer base. This move was pivotal, transforming the public’s perception of Candy Kittens from a celebrity-endorsed novelty to a serious player in the confectionery industry. 

Laing admitted that the company struggled financially in its early years, unable to pay him a salary for the first decade. The high-stakes FMCG environment, where profit margins are notoriously slim, made it difficult to compete. 

However, their commitment to maintaining the brand’s premium identity paid off in the long run.

Differentiation has been key to Candy Kittens’ strategy. The brand’s distinctive packaging, vegan-friendly products, and B Corp certification underline its premium positioning. 

This commitment to ethical and sustainable practices resonates with today’s consumers, setting Candy Kittens apart in a crowded market dominated by giants like Haribo. Laing emphasised that being a B Corp is significant because it balances profit with people, aiming to leave the world in a better state.

A Challenger Mindset

Laing’s business philosophy is influenced by advice from marketing guru Rory Sutherland, who encouraged him to “never follow logic” in business. 

This unconventional approach led Candy Kittens to create sweets that are not only visually appealing but also stand upright, a feature that costs more but differentiates the brand. Sutherland’s advice underscored the importance of innovation and differentiation in building a unique brand identity.

By prioritising bold, unique branding and sustainability, Candy Kittens has successfully established itself as a formidable player in the confectionery market. Laing believes that by educating consumers about their values and practices, they can drive positive change in the industry. 

What’s more, this challenger mindset has enabled Candy Kittens to think differently from its competitors, essential for disrupting the market dominance of established brands.

Conclusion: A Recipe for Success

Jamie Laing’s journey with Candy Kittens is a testament to the power of perseverance, strategic thinking, and a commitment to ethical business practices. 

From its humble beginnings to becoming a major player in the confectionery industry, Candy Kittens exemplifies how a clear vision and differentiation can lead to monumental success. 

As Laing and his team continue to innovate and push boundaries, Candy Kittens is poised to remain a beloved brand for years to come. 

Candy Kittens’ rise serves as a reminder that staying true to one’s values and vision can pay off in the long term, creating a brand that not only thrives in the marketplace but also makes a positive impact on the world.