The Sidemen are always on the lookout for a new hustle. The high-profile YouTube influencers – known by the monikers KSI, Miniminter, Zerkaa, TBJZL, Behzinga, Vikkstar123, and W2 – have clothing, trading cards and a vodka brand to their name, while KSI is also behind the phenomenal success of Prime Hydration (in conjunction with Logan Paul, another influencer).

Now The Sidemen are setting their sights on the food industry. Over the past month, they’ve announced two launches into the UK market: the “healthy and delicious” Best cereal brand, and meat snacking brand Sides. Tellingly, the latter was described as “a cornerstone” of their global growth strategy.

It’s a momentous move. The Sidemen may seem like a bit of fun, and their content certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously. Latest videos – one is released on every #SidemenSunday – include ‘Sidemen stay at the world’s weirdest Airbnbs’ and ‘Sidemen become models for 24 hours’. The mood is fast-paced, upbeat and clearly targeted at a youth market.

But make no mistake, this is a serious business. The YouTube group has a collective reach of over 150 million subscribers. In this year’s Netflix documentary The Sidemen Story, viewers were told their content racks up over 300 million views and more than a billion impressions every month. Clips show the influencers arriving to screaming crowds at a football stadium, or on a London bus. “It goes to show how powerful a group can be,” sums up one commentator. The message is clear: these are the new pop stars.

So when The Sidemen launch a product, their target market is going to take notice. Prime is a prime example of their power. The influencer-backed soft drink is now the 64th biggest food and drink brand in UK, according to The Grocer’s Britain’s Biggest Brands 2024, having proven so popular that retailers were forced to introduce sales limits.

As its success proves, these influencers have the kind of personal connection many established brands would kill for. “The individual creator or creator team may be talking to millions of people, but to the teenage boy in his bedroom, it feels personal,” says Daniel Quinn, head of innovation at The Forge, in a column for The Grocer.

This guarantees initial hype – but, of course, it doesn’t guarantee staying power. If the product doesn’t match up to expectations, it still won’t sell in the long term. And there is always difficulty in maintaining the excitement that comes with big bang launches. Prime sales are understood to have dropped off significantly since last year, for example.

But another thing influencers do well is fast-paced innovation. Iceland has just launched a limited-edition strawberry & banana Prime flavour that is designed to rekindle the buzz. And The Sidemen are already looking to branch out into further avenues with their Best Cereal brand, which has sold 100,000 boxes since launching in Tesco just over two weeks ago.

They’ve applied to the Intellectual Property Office for a trademark that covers not just cereals, but tableware, cutlery and a variety of morning goods. “We’ll keep listening to our community to understand what flavours and formats they want from us next,” Sidemen manager Jordan Schwarzenberger told The Grocer.

This experimentation mentality is second nature to influencers. The speed and quality of feedback from their subscribers enables them to try out what works, and ditch what doesn’t, says Quinn at The Forge. “MrBeast took MrBeast Burgers from zero to £100m in sales and back down to nothing in less than two years,” he points out.

So no, not everything The Sidemen touches will turn to gold. But amid the inevitable fast fails, you can bet there will be some gold nuggets in there. These are the pop stars of today – and for them, food will be more than just a faddy sideline.