Digital Food had the honour to interview Michel de Rovira, one of the two famous “troublemakers of taste” ( as they are usually called) from Michel and Augustin, a french food brand . At Digital Food, their amazing career highly impress us. Let’s go for a fun adventure which celebrates its 10 years old.
The Challenge of taste
Michel and Augustin met for the first time in 8th Grade. Before becoming good friends, they mostly learnt to know about each other. They found themselves in 9th Grade and then in 10th Grade, and following class in high school. Travels have reinforced their friendship which has never changed so far. 1992 determinates their first important travel together in Africa. In 1994, Burkina Faso before Colombia in 1997 for an humanitarian mission :
These experiences have surrounded the beautiful years between 18 and 25 years old
Their passion for gastronomy came at the same time thanks to a guide proposed by Augustin introducing the best parisian bakeries. Creation of this work was a full time job because Michel de Rovira and Augustin Paluet-Marmont have visited exactly 1263 bakeries … They love the bakers and artisans for the proximity and passion they bring to products. Exchanges with artisans passionate about their profession have given inspiration to Michel and Augustin in following their adventure.
The first year, they have created their first “sablés” (shortbread biscuits with a cut made with the blak glass) with their entourage.
The real challenge was to offer the best product
That’s why they have chosen an exceptional fresh butter, sometimes with AOC (Appelation of Controlled Origin) label. For them, the most important thing was to assure product quality and the choice of good ingredients to do the best recipe.
We’re going to buy a tasty fish when we invite our friends. A good housewife wants the best products for special occasions for her family
According to Michel de Rovira, this step is really noble craft.
The taste to do more
At the beginning of the firm, their slogan « Les trublions du goût » ( The troublemakers of taste) naturally came to them. As Michel de Rovira highlights, this slogan is pretty conform with the sassy identity which characterizes them, also by the tastes that drives since the beginning of their adventure.
They have began with a main idea: create a beautiful brand who is staying in minds. Their main target was to bring their ideas around quality products. Proposing a modern taste, which was their starting point.
10 years ago, we had to find the ability to build brand awareness
At first, they earned few money ; that’s why events in majority occurated in Paris. To print their difference, they have taken smiling pictures and they disguised themselves with cow’s marks. They have participated to many events in stores. The cow to drink is one of their first products which became famous.
The milk is exclusively collected in France from several dairy cooperatives. The flour comes from Pays de Loire and from La Vienne, the salt from Guérande, the fresh butter from Bretagne and eggs from France.
But some products are the result of a real seeking work and procurement.
We exchange, we talk, we taste, we sniff
For example, vanilla comes straight from Madagascar. They also use Paprika Peru, mustard seed Canada and cocoa from West of Africa.
The incredible apple juices have recently appeared and are gonna to make you addict!
Another successfull recipe that you should absolutely try : the incredible cookies with a melted heart. A real pleasure!
Michel gave us in exclusivity their last recipe made with cereals and chocolate that you can checkon their website!
The taste to do widely more
The digital strategy of Michel and Augustin is well organized. They have quickly learnt that to be different, it was essential to have a good website and also be present on the social networks as well.
Häagen Dazs takes part as their biggest competitor towards whom they have a great admiration :
They did a lot of Street Marketing with a silly, smiling and offbeat spirit which catches attention .
One day, they have been challenged by a communication campaign. In 2006, at the launch of the mobile brand Virgin Mobile, the famous creator Richard Branson smiling, rappelling down the facade of Virgin Megastore at Champs Elysée. They are impressed by this anglo-saxon approach « who is barely used in France » regrets Michel de Rovira.
Richard Branson rappeling down for the launch of Virgin Megastore’s shop at Champs Elysées
According to Michel de Rovira, the food brand is axed on many ingredients. Their packaging really well thought is a massive communication weapon using the tone shifted and humoristic who makes their reputation.
On these packagings, we can find the list of ingredients with allergens, their faces with also a speech ensuring trust for the consumer. Each product is telling a story. They make it a point of honor that ingredients are well noticed on the package.
Recently, to start their recruitment’s campaign, employees went on the subway. Required profile: have the power … with smile please!
We are lucky that the social networks are a cheap mean in financial’s investment
A relevant and interesting message, these are the values on which the two troublemakers bet.
We must attract the viewer
Since four years, Michel and Augustin are used to train passionate people to pastry CAP (Certificate of Professional Competence) .
These people have to help, rework the recipe in order to create a product coherent with the brand. Soon, it will be the first enclosure where every employees will come from a CAP. Then, the right recipe is distributed to financial, logistics and commercial managers that make the choices in order to this product is properly manufactured and developed.
There is a very strong product traceability which is really important as well as the desire to do well
The intuitions of Michel & Augustin comes from their experiences after visiting restaurants but also bakeries.
They have a very intuitive approach to consumer.
I am hungry and i would like something to grab at the same time waiting for the dish of the evening is ready
Michel gives the example of a butterflie’s net of great ideas that the team reports every month.
Don’t forget ! Every first Thursday on each month, the Bananeraie opens its doors between 7 and 8.30 pm !
The taste to export abroad
When we are talking about Michel & Augustin, we are directly thinking about the Bananeraie, a parisian place which became an iconic site.
This site has changed of location 4 times since the beginning. The Bananeraie’s name easily comes from the fact of a banana tree took place in the locals of Augustin’s appartment and no because the two troublemakers are addict with banana leaves !
In this workshop are manufactured all famous recipes that you can find in food stores. Among them : Monoprix, Carrefour or also Casino. Offering to the widest public quality products is the heart of the enterprise.
Recently, Michel and Augustin are located on the US market after a long reasoning.
They wanted a big market. New York is raised as an ideal metropole because the city contains of adapted distribution’s networks. With 300 millions of consumers concentrated in New York, Washington et Boston, all is not done. Since the 1st of January 2015, Antoine is present on the Whole Foods Market, a food distributor of biologic products working across Canada, United States and United Kingdom.
We need to restart from zero once there
#AllezHowardunCafe took part of the top trends Hashtags so far! And the consumers can also participate posting a selfie with a coffee from Starbucks !
On June the 12th, Charlotte and Hassan have received a phone call from the Global Assistant of Howard Schultz, the GLOBAL CEO of Starbucks ! Since June 22nd, the recipes of Michel and Augustin are in 25 Starbucks of New York. Look the video below to watch the incredible story! You also can relive the entire adventure here
The Asian continent is also one of the places of implantation for the company. However, the approach is not the same because they sell products through distributors and sometimes directly with locals stores.
There are development’s opportunities through the high-end to consume tasty french and european products which bring taste and food quality
Breaking News: on Tuesday January 5th 2016, at 7 am sharp, was the NATIONAL launch of their cookie squares sittin’ in a row. You’ll find them in 7,624 Starbucks, in all 50 States, from Hawaii to Florida and all the way up to Alaska.
The final word by Michel de Rovira
It’s an adventure in entrepreneurship initiated by 2 friends and today by 80 passionate taste people and with a certain mindset that is realized through the job, missions and always with smile. A smiling,dynamic,punchy and friendly tone with the desire to do more and go further. We need a project, a product who passionates them. The failure or success may be as likely. Even failure is a profitable experience. If you hate coaching and you go up a start up so that the product doesn’t interest you, it’s a waste of time. Spend 5 years for a good recipe, a good product. And if it works, fine