The traditional way to build a food business, through product innovation linked to prevailing trends, offering reliable service and convincing smaller retailers and then ultimately supermarket buyers to stock your brand, is still alive and well.

But increasingly we are living in an age whereby there are other routes to market and product launches on the back of being what in modern parlance is referred to as an influencer is one of them.

This was highlighted to great effect in an interview Just Food did with DayDayCook founder and CEO Norma Chu.

A former head of research at HSBC Private Bank in Hong Kong, back in 2012 she built on her passion for Hong Kong and Cantonese home cooking by creating a culinary-focused content platform featuring quick-preparation meal solutions.

To say it took off would be something of an understatement. Following DayDayCook’s roll out in China, it started to add third party product sales to its recipe advice and home cooking demonstrations before deciding to launch its own product range.

In China, this combined social media and e-commerce offering now has 60 million active viewers and 3.5 million paying customers.

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Still describing itself as a “leading content-driven consumer brand”, offering ready-to-heat, ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat products, DayDayCook then did something interesting, heading to the US and becoming a regular food business, complete with raising money through an IPO, acquiring peers and gaining retail listings.

Now Chu says her ambition is to create “the future General Mills for Asian food” and, given her track record over the last decade and an aggressive growth strategy, few would doubt her chances of achieving her aim.

Certainly, an investment base encompassing venture capital, private equity, family offices, high-net-worth individuals and industry thinks so.

All of which begs the question, will her approach – which cuts a fair number of the corners used by manufacturers taking the traditional route – increasingly become the norm?

This is subtly different from celebrity chefs, or simply celebrities, creating or putting their name to food products.

Norma Chu wasn’t a celebrity when she started her business but she found her audience and as that grew so did her influence.

She is not the first to develop a brand via e-commerce and then to take it into bricks and mortar retail of course, but the fact we are talking about relatively everyday products such as cup noodles begs the question of how long it would have taken to have reached this point heading down the tried and trusted brand building paths.

General Mills started out in 1856 as the Minneapolis Milling Company. The brands we all know today emerged much later on.

It is good to know it remains an influencer to entrepreneurs like Norma Chu.