Edible cookie dough was a trend in the F&B scene a few years ago. While few local brands appeared to be taking advantage of it, not many have maintained their presence.
Examples include Lick A Spoon, which closed its store amid the pandemic with no additional updates, and Doh Malaysia, which appears to be inactive on Twitter with a now-defunct website.
Such scenarios suggest that edible cookie dough adoption is still weak in Malaysia, but the online biscuit store To The Heart.Co (To The Heart) is not being discouraged.
Founder Michelle Ho believes it is still a niche and even a new market, and uses customer feedback to continually improve her offerings.
From cookies to dough
Although Michelle discovered her fondness for edible cookie dough during a trip to Australia, Michelle was unsure of Malaysia’s dessert preferences. When she first launched To The Heart in 2019, the 20-year-old only sold baked cookies.
The business started with baked cookies / Image credit: To The Heart.Co
But the longing to sell cookie dough remained. In 2020, the baker decided to add a few flavors to her product range in order to test the response from the market.
Starting with edible cookie dough flavors of 3 chocolate variations, it has received ample support from customers. That was the market validation Michelle needed to continue exploring this industry.
It was much safer to start with familiar cookies first, as it helped her build an audience to test the reception of her cookie dough with. She was also able to get instant and honest feedback instead of relying on theories and analysis based on observation of other similar companies at the time.
It’s not a raw cookie dough
As a student, Michelle’s schedule is often jam-packed with lectures, assignments, after-school activities, and exams. Therefore, To The Heart often only operates on weekends.
As she conducts research and development on new flavors, Michelle uses experimentation and online tutorials to weigh each outcome. Customers are also a source of inspiration as they can provide input on the flavors they are interested in.
While making edible cookie dough is similar to baking cookies, there is a huge difference in the ingredients used.
A case where you are literally encouraged to dig in / Image Credit: To The Heart.Co
Raw cookie dough contains bacteria like salmonella and E.coli from eggs and flour, making it unsafe to eat raw.
With that in mind, Michelle explained, “To The Heart’s edible cookie dough is instead made from pasteurized ingredients, which means our edible cookie dough contains no raw materials. [making] It is safe to be eaten the way it is. “
Pasteurization is a process of treating food with mild heat to eliminate any pathogens that may be in the ingredients. This food safety standard is also emphasized by our former interviewee at Safe Food Corporation, a manufacturer of pasteurized eggs in Malaysia.
Once a recipe was developed, Michelle would get her friends and family to validate it before it was released to the public. Today To The Heart sells 9 different flavors of its cookie dough at a price between 14.50 and 16.60 RM for 270g, with free deliveries across the country.
To The Heart’s prices are a little lower than UK brand MyCookieDough, which can cost anywhere from 18.06 to 20.86 RM (minus delivery charges at Grab), although the weight of the products is unclear.
Supermarket shelves at a glance as the next step
Michelle’s main goal is to get To The Heart’s products onto supermarket shelves. One way to do this would be to reach out to convenience stores like BilaBila Mart that stock products from smaller Malaysian brands and give them physical visibility for an opportunity.
Before Michelle does this, however, she needs to work on the packaging of her product to include nutritional and product information as this is the standard for all products offered by grocery stores.
A sinful glass of cookie dough / Photo credit: To The Heart.Co
With Lick A Spoon and Doh Malaysia pending for their own unknown reasons, it’s hard to tell if an inept cookie dough market is to blame. If so, have things changed since 2020 when MyCookieDough officially launched in Malaysia and To The Heart started selling cookie dough?
The limited data currently available suggests this is a possibility, but until more of this type emerges, it’s hard to say for sure. Right now there is ample market share in Malaysia for To The Heart and MyCookieDough, although the latter has a better advantage as a larger global brand.
The self-made snack brand Kintry managed to land on supermarket shelves, among other things, by drawing attention to itself through pop-up stores and bazaars. Michelle could emulate this once it is safer, as there are several advantages to selling their products locally.
She could have potential customers test her product on site and have any concerns answered immediately. Such a tangible experience usually helps build customer trust faster and better and get them to make instant purchases.
The young entrepreneur has initially managed to build an online customer base that makes To The Heart profitable. Her current advantage as a small business is the ability to have more personal relationships with her customers, which enables Michelle to maintain and expand To The Heart’s market relevance.
- You can learn more about To The Heart.Co. Experienced here.
- You can read more about F&B related articles that we have written here.
Featured Image Source: Michelle Ho, Founder of To The Heart.Co