Edible cookie dough used to be trend on the F&B scene a couple of years ago. Although several local brands seemed to take advantage of this opportunity, not many retained their presence.
Such scenarios suggest that Malaysian acceptance of edible cookie dough is still weak, but the online cookie business, To Heart.Co (Heart) is not discouraged.
Founder Michelle Ho believes it’s still a niche and even a new market, so she takes customer feedback to continually improve her offering.
From cookies to dough
Despite discovering during her trip to Australia that she likes edible cake batter, Michelle wasn’t sure what Malaysians preferred in dessert. So when she first launched To The Heart in 2019, the 20-year-old was selling only baked cookies.
But the desire to sell cake batter remained. In 2020, the bakery decided to expand its product offering with several flavors to test the market response.
Starting with the flavors of edible cookie dough in 3 chocolate variations, it has gained widespread customer support. It was a confirmation of the market that Michelle needed to further explore this vertical.
It was a much safer move to start with the familiar cookies first, as it helped her build an audience where she could try receiving her cookie dough. She was also able to get immediate and honest feedback, instead of relying on theories and analyzes based on observations of other similar jobs that were present at the time.
It is not a raw cookie dough
Being a student, Michelle’s schedule is often full of lectures, assignments, extracurricular activities, and exams. Therefore, To The Heart often operates only on weekends.
When conducting research and development for new flavors, Michelle turns to experimentation and online guides to weigh each outcome. Clients are also a source of inspiration, as they can provide information on tastes that would interest them.
Although the process of making edible cookie dough is similar to baking cookies, there is one big difference in the ingredients used.
Raw cookie dough contains bacteria like salmonella and E. coli due to eggs and flour which is why it is not dangerous for raw consumption.
Aware of this, Michelle explained, “Heart-shaped cookie dough is made from pasteurized ingredients, which means there are no raw ingredients in our edible dough, [making] you can certainly eat it as it is. ”
Pasteurization is a process in which food is treated with mild heat to remove pathogens that may be present in the ingredients. This food safety standard is also emphasized our former interlocutor at Safe Food Corporation, a manufacturer of pasteurized eggs in Malaysia.
Once the recipe is developed, Michelle would force her friends and family to confirm them before it is made public. Today To The Heart sells 9 different flavors of cake batter priced between RM 14.50 and RM 16.60 for 270 g, with free shipments nationwide.
The Heart’s prices are slightly lower than the British brand, MyCookieDough which can cost between RM 18.06 and RM 20.86 (on Grab minus shipping fees), although the weight of its products is unclear.
Observing supermarket shelves as the next step
Michelle’s main goal is to get To The Heart products on supermarket shelves. One way to do this would be to contact stores like BilaBila Mart, which stores products of smaller Malaysian brands and provides them with physical visibility.
But before Michelle does that, she would have to work on packaging her product to include nutrition and product information, as this is the standard for all products carried by stores.
Given that Lick A Spoon and Doh Malaysia are in suspense for their own unknown reasons, it’s hard to say whether it’s the wrong unacceptable market for cookie dough. If so, have things changed since 2020, when MyCookieDough was officially launched in Malaysia and When To The Heart started selling cookie dough?
Currently, limited data indicate that this is possible, but until more companies of this nature appear, it is difficult to say with certainty. For now, there is a large market share in Malaysia that would like to win To The Heart and MyCookieDough, although the latter has a better advantage as a larger global brand.
Once brands of homemade Kintry snacks managed to land on supermarket shelves by raising awareness through pop-up stores and bazaars. This is something Michelle might consider mimicking when it’s safer, because selling your own products in the field has several advantages.
She could let potential customers try her product on the spot and get an answer to any doubts right away. Such a tangible experience usually helps build customer trust faster and better, leading them to make an instant purchase.
For now, the young entrepreneur has managed to build an online customer base that has led To The Heart to profitability. Her current advantage as a small business is her ability to nurture more personal relationships with her clients, through which Michelle can maintain and build the market value of To The Heart.
- You can learn more about To The Heart.Co here.
- You can read about more F&B related articles we have written here.
Featured image: Michelle Ho, founder of To The Heart.Co