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Feb 21, 2020

The brand may be called Belgian Boys, but a self-described “Chief Belgian Girl” conceived its thoughtful business strategy.

Anouck Gotlib is the CEO of Belgian Boys, which markets a range of authentic European breakfast foods and sweet snacks, including liege wafels, crepes, pancakes and stroopwafels. Launched in 2014, the brand is represented in a variety of retail channels and chains, including Target, CVS, Whole Foods and Costco. 

Gotlib joined Belgian Boys as its head of marketing in 2014 and played a central role in developing the brand’s whimsical aesthetic and package design. Since becoming CEO in 2018, she has positioned Belgian Boys as one of familiar indulgence, expanding and curating the product line with delicious foods that are easily understood and appreciated by American consumers. In an interview included in this episode, Gotlib explained that while the brand’s positioning has been key to its retail strategy, it’s only part of the equation.

“What's really important is that you really understand what's on [a retail buyer’s] shelves,” she said. “You need a strategy. You need to make sure that what you sell to the retailer makes sense for the retailer. Walk the aisles of the supermarket, walk by the register and find out who’s there. What are they buying? Why are they buying it? This way you can relate to the buyer and together with the retailer set your brand up for success.”

Also within our conversation, Gotlib also spoke about the formation of Belgian Boys and how her background in fashion influenced the brand’s identity and continues to play a role in her management style. She also discussed how Costco has become a key retailer for incubating new products, best practices for effective merchandising and how Belgian Boys landed a deal with JetBlue.

Show notes: 

0:40: The Expo Edge, Argentine Booch & The Baaaaaad Guy -- The episode opened with banter about a popular song by Billie Eilish, why coffee foam and kombucha are trending in Argentina, tips for an optimal Expo West experience (Attendees: Exhibiting new products? Got news to share? Tell BevNET and NOSH) and whether vegan might be fading as a marketing term.

18:00: Anouck Gotlib, CEO, Belgian Boys -- Gotlib met with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif at BevNET’s office in New York City and kicked off their conversation with some background on Belgian Boys, including the origin of mascots “Skinny and Chubby'' and how a mustache has become a key element in branding and marketing initiatives. She also explained why Belgian Boys is designed to be “a household staple for indulgence, quality and taste,” the evolution of its product assortment, testing new products via private label, and why the brand and Special K cereal are likely to be seen in the same shopping cart. Later, Gotlib discussed her initial meeting with a JetBlue buyer and the lengthy process of getting the brand’s cookies on board, why she believes there’s a big opportunity for breakfast foods and how Belgian Boys is expanding its presence in Walmart.

Brands in this episode: Belgian Boys, The Lab Coffee Roasters, Starbucks, Piettelli Vineyards, Bendita Kombucha, Beyond Meat, BrightFox, RxBar, BluePrint, Perfect Bar, High Peaks, Tofurky, Moocho, Special K, Pretzel Crisps