Ryan Healey is VP of Brand & Marketing at Momofuku. He oversees marketing, communications, and design for both divisions of Momofuku: Momofuku restaurants and Momofuku Goods, the CPG arm of Momofuku. Ryan has spent the last six years at Momofuku; he started in 2017 and has held his current since 2019. Previously, Ryan was an editor of Lucky Peach — Momofuku’s food magazine — and worked at Sweetgreen. Ryan lives in New York City.
Q: Tell us a little about your approach to marketing.
Food is so personal — we’re asking our consumers to make our goods part of their pantries, their lives, and their traditions — so we spend so much time creating offerings that are in line with our culinary standards. With that strong foundation, marketing our products isn’t so complicated. My job is to tell the stories of the offerings in compelling ways, providing context about their creation and showing our customers how to make them part of their daily lives.
Q: How has your marketing changed over the past few years?
Having worked for so long on Momofuku’s restaurant business, I’ve seen an enormous amount of change in the last couple of years, especially since the pandemic. Our CPG business, Momofuku Goods, really took off in 2020. When people couldn’t experience Momofuku flavors at our restaurants, we brought the flavors to their homes, and created a community of fans around the country.
We were lucky to have a strong connection with our customers already in place through organic social, and we were able to layer other growth channels — email, SMS and even private Facebook groups — on top of that to build an omnichannel Momofuku universe.
Q: In 2023, marketers have more channels to utilize than ever, from shoppable social to CTV to the traditional. Which channels are you using? Where are you seeing the most success?
We keep our marketing mix fairly simple: strong organic social, thoughtful emails and SMS that add value to our customers’ lives, as well as the usual Meta and Google ads.
As we scale those paid channels, however, we’ve been very focused on building a strong community from the bottom up.
Over the past year, we’ve had 15,000 people join a private Facebook group centered around our products — people sharing recipes, asking questions and connecting with each other over food, just like they do at our restaurants. It’s been amazing to see the community these folks have built and how creative they are when using our products. It even inspires our business decisions, which is incredibly helpful.
Q: What challenges do you anticipate facing in 2024? How do you plan on meeting those challenges?
I have a fair amount of “rational paranoia” when it comes to my job—I never want to think that past success guarantees that we will be successful in the future.
To that point, we’re excited to bring our brand to more people in more places, but I’m aware of the awareness challenges that come with such expansion.
That said, as we’ve moved further from our core demographic, I’ve been heartened to see that our products still resonate with folks even if they haven’t been to a Momofuku restaurant. We plan to keep focusing on why we believe in our products and showing our customers that, even if they’re not immediately familiar with our flavors, they’ll love them when they try them.
Q: What is something you’ve learned in your career that you would like to share with young SMB marketers entering the industry?
I never set out to work in marketing. My first job was an editor at a food magazine. I learned so much about the power of telling compelling stories and the need to understand what’s going to resonate with your reader. Put yourself in their position: would you want to read this story? What would keep you hooked?
Those lessons inform how I think now. It’s easy to get caught up in what you want to communicate about a product, but if it’s not resonating with the consumer, it’s not going to work.