From humble beginnings to crumble sensation: how Humble Crumble cracked the social media code

The world's first crumble bakery has claimed sweet success on socials by giving a classic British dessert a cosmopolitan and modern spin.

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:

Nested in a corner of Old Spitalfields market, next to other protagonists of London’s bustling food scene, stands Humble Crumble. Aside from the line of people waiting expectantly for their order, dessert lovers will also notice the sweet and the buttery scent of the crumble waiting to fill the shop’s pink tubs.

The world’s first crumble bakery has taken what is a British culinary tradition and turned it viral on social media. Between user generated content (UGC) and Humble Crumble’s own accounts, the crumble maker has gathered millions of views and nearly 200,000 followers across Instagram and TikTok.

From tapping into Londoner’s sense of childhood nostalgia through hearty classic crumbles to catching foodies’ eyes (and tastebuds) through innovative inventions like the Crumbrûlée, Humble Crumble has scooped its way into success.

The recipe for social media success

To understand the ingredients of its innovative marketing strategy, Startups spoke with Kim Innes, founder and chef.

After receiving personalised crumble suggestions for the Startups team (Nectarine and Sour Cherry Crumble), Kim reveals how instrumental a sense of novelty and intrigue is.

“I think the fact that we are the first crumble bakery gives us this newness and this excitement and so I think our business is inherently shareable because of that,” outlines Kim. “Our products are also, one, delicious, but two, they also look delicious, they picture well, they video well, and so it is kind of geared towards social media and being quite shareable.”

Besides just looking good on an Instagram feed, there also is something inherent about the product that makes people feel good. As Kim highlights, it’s a classic British dessert that helps bring friends and families together.

“For me, I had crumble at school, at home and at friend’s houses, and the pub. I’d have it in so many different places that it was just such a staple of my childhood and I think so many people see it have that same association so when they see a place that’s dedicated to crumble, those nostalgic feelings come running back,” shares Kim.

The warmth of the crumble invoking nostalgia and the chic and cosmopolitan concept of having a modern dessert bar make it a viral hit on social media. One sugary lesson to take away is that appealing to people’s emotions can be the key to selling your brand effectively.

Baking in engagement

Kim is keen to stress that social media isn’t simply a glass storefront wherein customers are passive observers – the key is to engage with those users.

“Community is the core of what we do,” shares Kim. “We always try to make sure that everyone who follows us is engaging with us.”

This is not necessarily an inside secret for social media gurus. After all, engagement is a key factor of social media algorithms. However, the key difference for Humble Crumble is being plugged into a 24/7 engagement cycle.

“Our social media manager, she’s from New Zealand and she lives in London, but she has people in New Zealand who help us so actually, we’re pretty much 24/7,” she explains. “You’ll have someone who can respond to you from Humble Crumble because of the time zone differences.”

Balancing the flavours of organic search and content creation

The dream of any social media manager is that a brand sells itself so well that the majority of people find it through authentic user generated content (UGC), rather than original content published on the brand’s main profile.

For Humble Crumble, the reach of UGC has transformed its social media success. “I can only speak for us, but anytime we’ve done anything like professional photos or videos, they do not share as well as user generated content,” confesses Kim.

“And I think it’s just more personable and a nice relatable thing for our followers, that they feel ‘I could take this video and post it on my Instagram or TikTok and it will look great.”

Measuring successful influencer outreach is also key to generating the right type of organic interactions with a brand, beyond its main profile.

“I would say find influencers that are within your market, so for us it’s food influencers,” recommends Kim. “We’ve actually had experiences where celebrities will post about our crumbles and it’s just not the right demographic.”

“It doesn’t really move the needle in the same way that a micro influencer with 2,000 followers who’s interested in the food because their engagement is so much higher as it’s just the right audience.”

It can be tempting to reach out to influencers simply based on their following or popularity. However, Kim stresses the importance of considering micro influencers as a way to foster social media success.

“Working with micro influencers is really powerful because their audiences tend to be more engaged and often they won’t ask for any financial contribution. They want to produce content and they’re happy with the exchange of you giving them the product and them giving you content – it’s like a win-win situation.”

Starting from humble beginnings and trusting the process

Whether it is thanks to micro influencers or other UGC, Humble Crumble’s success was not always guaranteed.

“I think it’s worth noting that I could have easily not been successful,” confesses Kim. “For the first two years, it really wasn’t a success. And one of the challenges that I faced was because we were the world’s first crumble bakery, no one knew what we were doing.”

“If you were to go into a food market, you would probably expect to see burgers or pizza or pancakes but back in 2018, people would come up and ask me ‘What are you selling? Are you selling soup’ and I was always baffled that they would not get it.”

Social media then entered the scene and changed the tide for Humble Crumble. “Social media was amazing at educating people that we existed and the virality of videos on TikTok and Instagram really helped spread that word that a place where you could go get crumble existed.”

In lots of ways, having a successful business that triumphs on social media is a process of trial and error. “I actually started Humble Crumble as an alcohol infused crumble place, because I was like, amazing, British people love alcohol and they love crumble, so why don’t I mix them together.”

As Kim admits, it was not a popular idea and it ended up creating more confusion. However, the key lesson for any small business in the food industry is to get exposure and get feedback.

“Being able to go into this food market, this very small food market, and just put something out there and get the feedback was amazing because that meant I could tweak what my business was doing,” says Kim.

“I would say fundamentally success doesn’t happen unless you try, so you need to go out there and try and just see what happens.”

Key takeaways: how to crack the social media code

If as a social media chef you want to measure the ingredients of your strategy correctly, here are the main key takeaways to implement into your own marketing recipes:

🍰 Make your unique selling point clear and show off what you’re bringing to the table

🧁 Try to appeal to your customers’ emotions whether that is through the way you sell your product or the way you market it

🎂 Get stuck into a 24/7 engagement cycle, your followers will be impressed

🍧 User Generated Content is a goldmine so present your product in a way that makes customers want to organically share it on their own networks

🍬 Go for micro (not macro) influencers who are well positioned in your own industry

Written by:
Fernanda is a Mexican-born Startups Writer. Specialising in the Marketing & Finding Customers pillar, she’s always on the lookout for how startups can leverage tools, software, and insights to help solidify their brand, retain clients, and find new areas for growth. Having grown up in Mexico City and Abu Dhabi, Fernanda is passionate about how businesses can adapt to new challenges in different economic environments to grow and find creative ways to engage with new and existing customers. With a background in journalism, politics, and international relations, Fernanda has written for a multitude of online magazines about topics ranging from Latin American politics to how businesses can retain staff during a recession. She is currently strengthening her journalistic muscle by studying for a part-time multimedia journalism degree from the National Council of Training for Journalists (NCTJ).

Leave a comment

Leave a reply

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top