The dough for edible cookies was once trend in the F&B scene a couple of years ago. Although few local brands have appeared to take advantage of it, not many have maintained their presence.
These scenarios point out that acceptance of Malaysian edible cookie dough is still weak, but that it is an online cookie business, Al cor.Co (To The Heart) is not discouraged.
Founder Michelle Ho believes it’s still a niche and even a new market, so she takes feedback from customers to continually improve their offerings.
From cookies to dough
Despite discovering her taste for the dough of edible cookies during a trip to Australia, Michelle was unsure of Malaysian preferences in desserts. So when she launched To The Heart in 2019, the 20-year-old only sold cookies in the oven.
But the desire to sell the cookie dough remained. In 2020, the baker decided to expand its product offering with some flavors to test the market response.
Starting with edible flavors of 3 chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough, it received extensive customer support. This was the market validation Michelle needed to explore this vertical.
It was a much safer step to start with familiar cookies first, as it helped build an audience that could test the reception of their cookie dough. He could also get immediate and honest comments, instead of relying on theories and analyzes based on the observation of other similar companies that existed then.
It’s not too raw for cookies
As a college student, Michelle’s schedule is usually full of lectures, assignments, extracurricular activities, and exams. Therefore, To The Heart often operates only on weekends.
When conducting R&D for new flavors, Michelle turns to experimentation and online tutorials to assess each outcome. Customers are also a source of inspiration, as they can provide information on what flavors would interest them.
Although the process of making edible cookie dough is similar to baking cookies, there is a big difference in the ingredients used.
The raw cookie dough contains bacteria such as Salmonella and E.Coli due to the eggs and flour, which makes them unsafe to eat raw.
Aware of this, Michelle explained, “The Heart’s edible cookie dough is made with pasteurized ingredients, which means there are no raw ingredients in our edible cookie dough, [making] you can eat as it is safe ”.
Pasteurization is a process in which food is treated with mild heat to remove pathogens that may be present inside the ingredients. This food safety standard is also emphasized by our former interviewee to Safe Food Corporation, a producer 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 costing between 14.50 and 16.60 RM per 270 g, with free shipments nationwide.
Prices for The Heart are slightly lower than the UK-based brand. MyCookieDough which can cost between RM 18.06 RM20.86 RM (for Grab less shipping costs), although the weight of your products is unclear.
Observe the supermarket shelves as a next step
Michelle’s main goal is to get To The Heart products on supermarket shelves. One way to do this would be to approach convenience stores like BilaBila Mart, which stores products from smaller Malaysian brands and provides them with physical visibility, to get a chance.
But before Michelle does, she should work on the packaging of her product to include nutritional and product information, as it is the standard for any product that grocery stores carry.
With Lick A Spoon and Doh Malaysia being in a limbo for unknown reasons, it’s hard to tell if an unreceptive market for cookie dough is to blame. If so, have things changed since 2020, which is when MyCookieDough was officially launched in Malaysia and when To The Heart started selling too many cookies?
Limited data currently indicates that this is a possibility, but until more companies of this nature appear, it is difficult to say for sure. At the moment, there is a large market share in Malaysia for To The Heart and MyCookieDough, although the latter has a better advantage as the world’s largest brand.
One way Kintry brand homemade snacks managed to land on supermarket shelves by raising awareness through pop-up stores and bazaars. This is something Michelle might consider emulating once it is safer to do so, as selling products on the ground has several advantages.
It could let potential customers test their product on site and receive an immediate response to any questions. Such a tangible experience usually helps to build customer trust faster and better, which leads them to make instant purchases.
For now, the young entrepreneur has managed to create an online customer base that has led To The Heart to profitability. Her current advantage as a small business is the ability to foster more personal relationships with her clients, through which Michelle can maintain and consolidate the market relevance of To The Heart.
- You can find more information about To The Heart.Co here.
- You can read about more F&B related pieces we’ve written here.
Featured Image Credit: Michelle Ho, founder of To The Heart.Co