This is part of our #SmileABCs series, highlighting and going in-depth with small businesses and ecommerce brands. Check out the full series here.
When you think of high-protein, low-carb, healthy meals, waffles probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. Well, Viking Waffles is here to change that. Inspired by her family’s traditional authentic Norwegian waffle recipe, Benedicte Engen decided to make the move from Norway to New York to share this delicious treat with the world–but with a healthy twist.
“By being a soccer player, living an active healthy lifestyle focused on performance, combined with studying medicine, I decided to start experimenting with my own diet,” Benedicte shares. After playing around with the recipe, she was able to re-create her beloved waffle recipe while maintaining the taste and texture of traditional waffles but increasing the protein content, reducing the number of simple carbs and sugars, and making them gluten-free.
Today, 7 years after launching, Viking Waffles is loved by professional athletes, supermodels, families, diabetics, busy professionals, and everyone in between who enjoys eating delicious, guilt-free food every day.
Building a tribe of waffle-lovers
Getting any ecommerce off the ground as a solopreneur is hard, and Benedicte took on this challenge after moving across the Atlantic Ocean to a new country by herself. Luckily, she had a strong community waiting for her. “From the very beginning of starting up Viking Waffles, alone in New York, something that kept me going is trusting customer feedback which also has shaped the product and macros further as well,” Benedicte tells us.
Over the past 7 years, Viking Waffles has leveraged the power of community at every step of the journey. From baking waffles in a church kitchen to setting up a local bakery to expanding to a full team, the brand has attracted waffle lovers, fitness enthusiasts, and other like-minded health-conscious people along the way.
- Benedicte Engen, Founder of Viking Waffles
Whether consumers are drawn in by the convenience and portability of the waffles, or the great taste and exciting flavors, there’s something for everyone. Viking Waffles also lets its Norweigein roots shine through the brand, appealing to wellness as a whole. “I've been sharing Nordic wellness habits, some are drawn to the idea of a product that celebrates Norwegian tradition and culture while also offering a modern and health-conscious twist.”
Viking Waffles’ social media is flooded with user-generated content from lifestyle influencers, fitness enthusiasts, and busy moms to name a few. Customers love sharing their unique waffle recipes and what draws them to the brand.
Viking Waffles offers a loyalty program called Waffle Perks to create an engaging and rewarding customer experience. Customers are able to earn 5 points for every dollar spent, as well as points for following on social media, celebrating a birthday, or just signing up. They can then redeem their points for discounts on their next waffle haul.
Adding a dash of fun to social media
Wondering what Viking Waffle’s recipe for building a strong community is? Well, one of the not-so-secret ingredients has to be its fun, lighthearted social media strategy.
Benedicte has always viewed social media as an outlet for free and fun expression from her “waffle heart”. To this day, Viking Waffle’s Instagram and TikTok and filled with silly waffle memes, content about Norwegian culture, health and wellness tips, behind-the-scenes videos, as well as UGC of customers’ creative recipes. “I’m still blown away by how many fun creations are made by others,” Benedicte admits. Social media has become a place for customers to connect with the brand and one another, all while finding inspiration to live a healthier lifestyle.
Viking Waffles also does a fantastic job at promoting its range of products on social media. Amidst all the personal content are product shots and videos showing off new and fan favorite products. Benedicte shares her favorite way to enjoy Viking Waffles, “I like Viking Waffles with our own Viking Butter, a caramel flavored butter with collagen protein, sprinkled with cinnamon.” We don’t know about you but our mouths are totally watering.
Whether it’s their wafully beautiful product shots or entertaining Instagram Reels, Viking Waffles has grown its social following to 140,000 followers.
Advice for new business owners
Viking Waffles is clearly a shining example of successfully growing an ecommerce brand. But it didn’t happen overnight. It’s taken years of hard work, determination, and lots and lots of waffles. Benedicte shared some of her advice for new ecommerce businesses.
“Focus on your target audience. Understand their needs and preferences, and tailor your products, pricing, and marketing strategies accordingly,” says Benedicte. What started out as a waffle brand has become a cult classic with this mentality. Today, Viking Waffles offers a wider range of products including protein spreads, cookie dough, and even Viking apparel and mugs to let customers proudly rep their waffle love.
Whatever your brand is, make your values clear on every channel and it will attract the right customers. “I’m a firm believer that your vibe will attract your tribe.” So if you’re thinking of starting your own brand, focus on your target audience, tailor your brand to match, and connect with customers authentically. And maybe eat some brain food to get the ideas flowing–we happen to know of a snack that would be perfect! ;)