By Stacey McLachlan. Photo credit: Earth’s Own. Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Business Class magazine.
Any relationship coach would say it’s not healthy to go into a partnership thinking, “I can fix this.” But in business? There’s no more thrilling a challenge.
Just ask Brittany Hull, BCom ’00, who joined Earth’s Own (a BC-owned health food manufacturing company) in 2017 when the brand was in a double-digit plummet. “What attracted me most to Earth’s Own was that it was a declining brand with massive opportunity for growth,” says Hull, vice president of marketing. “The chance to dig in and turn around a national brand in a growing category was very appealing.”
And turn it around she did, with the help of a talented team plus a passion for the unique world of consumer-goods marketing. Today, the company reports annual revenue of over $150 million and is likely responsible for that carton of oat milk in your fridge right now.
Earth’s Own has always had a strong sense of values and purpose, but the brand struggled to effectively communicate these messages to consumers. Under the leadership of Hull and her team, the brand underwent a masterbrand overhaul that prioritized its purpose above all else. Earth’s Own wasn’t just selling a product, it was promoting a movement by encouraging consumers to embrace plant-based living; therefore, every choice about positioning, digital strategy and even experiential consumer engagement needed to be aligned with a mission to make a positive difference for the planet.
Hull found the uphill battle invigorating; it was a battle that also included a focus on packaging, brand blocking on retails’ shelves and the company’s digital presence.
Following her graduation in 2000, Hull spent 10 years climbing the ranks in Toronto’s consumer packaged goods world, and her resume is full of all-star grocery-aisle names: Heinz, Snapple, Kellogg’s and Canada Dry. “I learned a ton from really smart people working on really great brands,” she says.
In 2010, Hull returned to the West Coast to start a family, and dipped her toe into BC’s marketing world, bouncing from liquor to government and plant-based nutrition. But when the opportunity arose to work with Earth’s Own, Hull felt all the pieces of her varied career suddenly merge.
“It was a chance to pull it all together and run my own show, a chance to dig in and really make an impact,” Hull explains. “You don’t always get these opportunities out East.”
Earth’s Own’s planet-saving mission is driven by its branding of plant-based grocery alternatives like whole-ingredient oat milk and dairy-free butter. But Hull is quick to point out that these carbon-reducing products aren’t necessarily part of some special “sustainability market.” In fact, in 2023, all strong brands embrace these values.
“It’s a huge misconception that there’s a sustainability sector for consumer goods,” Hull says. “At the end of the day, we all just want to be better humans, and every brand should be leaning into this. It’s good for business. We’re selling a brand through authenticity and connection—there’s no special segment of the market for that.”
Hull’s passion for her work goes beyond just flexing her marketing muscles; it’s about championing principles that she personally connects with. “The world can’t sustain its current eating habits,” she says. “But plant-based eating doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation. We’re making a choice every time we have a meal.” Leading by example, her family follows a plant-based diet.
Through her work with Earth’s Own, Hull feels the company has finally found its footing. “So often, you tend to look at competitors and compare yourself,” she says. “But the biggest shift we’ve made is to forget about what’s happening elsewhere on the shelf and focus firmly on the consumer. That’s been the biggest success for this brand.”
When she was fresh out of Gustavson and cold-calling HR departments across Toronto, Hull couldn’t have foreseen a career like the one she has now. However, her tenacity and ability to think outside the box, honed during her BCom, allowed her to hit the ground running. Today, she’s moving forward with full force, using her skills to make the world a better place, one converted consumer at a time. “I thank my lucky stars I get to do this,” she says. “On my very first day in this business I felt like I was at home—and I’ve felt like that for 20 years. It has never felt like work.”