Pulsin’ Case Study: How to Differentiate and Win in the Food E-commerce Market


The US consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry registered its strongest growth in four years in 2015 to reach a “healthy” $670 billion. Puns aside, what’s more interesting is that much of the fuel was provided by small and midsize producers of healthy, protein-­rich foods and beverages, according to The Boston Consulting Group April 2016’s report.

Another significant finding of the research was that small CPG performance leaders are achieving strong growth primarily through wider distribution of their products. In some cases, this is because small companies are getting better placement on retail shelves or they are having their brands distributed by large CPG companies. According to BCG’s analysis, small companies are boosting sales through online retailers and promotion on social media as well.

We see similar trends in the UK where the organic food market rose 5% to nearly £2 billion in 2015. Consumers are increasingly influenced by online trends when it comes to health and wellness, with celebrity food bloggers and social media campaigns having a growing influence, according to Euromonitor report from April 2016.

This boosted sales in a number of niches segment within the food and beverage industry like almond milk and coconut water replacing dairy drinks. There was also a growing willingness to seek greater health by cutting other foods out from diets, with food intolerance notably benefiting from this trend and seeing sales soar for gluten-­free food.

Surfing with agility on these trends, Pulsin is a fascinating UK company who is winning in the high growth healthy food market segment. Here’s how.

The Pulsin’s Story

The business was started by three friends who met at the University of Bristol. Their original idea was to open a healthy fast food restaurant in London back in 2005 but they cleverly worked out it wasn’t a financially viable idea. So they started cooking some snacks. In 2007 they approached a couple of retailers in London and signed with a wholesaler in 2008. In 2010 they launched their first website. In 2012 they reached the million bars produced and grow 5 fold to hit… 5 million bars in 2015 (that was easy math, now let’s compute their CAGR…)

Read their full, fun, and entertaining story here.

Pulsin’s product positioning in the healthy food market


  • Spending months refining their recipes
  • Experimenting with new ingredients
  • Leading the “pack” in product development (CPG pun from them!)

No Low Sugar

  • As low in natural sugars as possible
  • No cane sugar added
  • Only when they need to “sweeten things up” they use natural sweeteners like dates, brown rice malt, agave nectar (from cactus) and xylitol (from tree bark)

No Nasties

  • Selection of the best natural ingredients on the planet.
  • Meaning no artificial sweeteners, flavourings, preservatives or colourings
  • GM and pesticide free

Sustainable and Ethical

They believe in growth that is sustainable and that does no harm to people, plants or the planet.

  • Sourcing of their ingredients as locally as they can
  • Sourcing exclusively from sustainable sources
  • Minimal usage of packaging which is made in the earth­friendliest materials as possible
  • Business powered with 100% renewable energy
  • Nothing is outsourced but the postage.

Pulsin’s branding and advertising

Pulsin’s Branding

  • Tongue and cheek tone of voice similar to Michel and Augustin in France or Innocent fruit juice in the UK
  • Socially responsible and going into great length to be mindful of people and the environment.
  • Down to earth: they don’t brag about it on their website but they won awards like the 2015 Natural and Organic Awards for best New Food Product!

Pulsin’s Advertising

  • Social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloggers
  • Events sponsoring and sampling
  • Content: pictures and blogs about nutrition, recipes, workout
  • Ambassador’s: Pulsin’s ambassadors include athletes like #1 UK Male figure skater, ballet dancers, triathlete and rock climbers. They also found the 60 year long Vegan or pole acrobats.

Pulsin’s distribution strategy

5 millions bars is a lot of stock to sell out and through! Here is how Pulsin does it:

Direct to consumers

  • Pulsin.co.uk, their own eCommerce website built on the Magento platform. Scroll down to read about how their eCommerce best practices help them win in that space.


Allowing them presence online and offline around the world including

  • Amazon
  • Holland and Barrett, Europe’s leading retailer of Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements with over 620 brick and mortar outlets across the UK and Ireland.

Pulsin’s online webshop: best in Class Magento store execution

Pulsin’s just relaunched their online store with the help of Media Lounge, a UK digital agency specialised in Magento. Here are 5 best practices and innovative features that businesses in the CPG/ FMCG industry can get inspiration from.

How to increase your addressable market?

By expanding their core target audience from 18­ to 45 year-old urban health conscious females to a wider audience including male and children, the brand is increasingly greatly its addressable market, moving to faster growing categories at that!

Pulsin’s strategy is to build on their existing customer base and cater for the rest of the family. The new products developed and commercialised include protein powders for healthy boyfriends/ dads and snacks specifically designed for children.

Pulsin' Case Study: How to Differentiate and Win in the Food E-commerce Market

How to cater to the various ways people shop?

Look at their top navigation bar. It’s not broken down by product category as new visitors might not really know what product they should chose upfront. However, visitors know what they want to achieve healthwise, hence this new categorisation:

  • shop by goal: weight loss, strength
  • shop by diet: vegan, paleo, lactose intolerant etc…

Not only will visitors feel the brand is relevant to them and understand them, it also allows the webshop to boost its SEO with dedicated landing pages covering the hottest topics and keywords in the health, nutrition and fitness industry. Totally brilliant!

I knew you’d be intrigued by Paleo so I picked this screenshot. (If you can’t read, Paleo = raw food, healthy stuff like fruits, veggies, fat from nuts and seeds, nothing refined)

Pulsin' Case Study: How to Differentiate and Win in the Food E-commerce Market

How to drive Loyalty and increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Automatic replenishment is a growing trend that drives repeat buyers and increases transaction frequency. Here, Pulsin offers a clever monthly subscription model which is win­-win for both customers and the business:

  • Customers save time and money (10% off and no need to remember or manually add snacks and bars to your weekly groceries)
  • Customers stay loyal as the automatic replenishment shuts down all opportunities to try another brand
  • The business gets recurring revenues and higher customer lifetime value for each customer acquired.
Pulsin' Case Study: How to Differentiate and Win in the Food E-commerce Market

How to maximise average order value (AOV)

a) On the product page: Upsell with ” buy 3 and save” type of messages right below the unit price
Pulsin' Case Study: How to Differentiate and Win in the Food E-commerce Market
b) In cart or basket: You can cross sell with
  • product recommendations
  • ” free shipping for orders above £35″
Pulsin' Case Study: How to Differentiate and Win in the Food E-commerce Market

How to reduce cart abandonment and maximise your checkout completion

a) Share for coupon

I discovered this tip last week in Blue Acorn and Addshoppers’ “Optimizing your checkout flow conversion” Webinar. Don’t lose customers at checkout because they look for coupon codes. Best practice is to provide them with a coupon right here right there, in exchange for social sharing. And do that IN CART, before checkout!

Pulsin' Case Study: How to Differentiate and Win in the Food E-commerce Market

b) Simplified user friendly checkout

Once your cart is nice and full, because you’ve done your upselling activity BEFORE checkout, your job is to reduce friction and make checkout as quick and seamless as possible.

Best practice is the a OneStepCheckout (see how I saved the best for last 🙂 ) displaying a simple checkout page that is easy and quick to fill­out. No distraction, just bold green price totals and the prominent “Place order” button.

Note how Pulsin give the heads­up on the PayPal experience to reassure the customer and prevent them from leaving the site without buying, out of confusion.

Pulsin' Case Study: How to Differentiate and Win in the Food E-commerce Market

Read more details about Pulsin’s Magento website revamp project.

How you enjoyed this practical and visual case study and inspires you to do the same if you’re manufacturing or selling health and wellness products.

Disclaimer: This webshop came to my attention through the Media Lounge Agency who we work very closely with. The more I looked into Pulsin’s website the more I came to personally love what they do and how they do it. I feel very proud to have them as a customer of our OneStepCheckout extension as part of the whole Magento ecosystem.