Christopher Jane, Mariah Parsons, Jennifer Jane
Mariah Parsons 00:03
Welcome to Retention Chronicles, a podcast sponsored by Malomo, a shipment tracking platform that helps ecommerce brands turn order tracking from a cost center into a profitable marketing channel. On this week of Retention Chronicles, we are joined by co founder and CMO, Jennifer Jane, and co founder and CEO Christopher Jane. This sibling duo founded Proper Good, which is a brand with tasty, healthy, ready to go meals. I've tried them- you'll hear me talk about this in the episode. I really love them. We talk about their journey bringing Proper Good to life and they share about their experience how they went into wholesale with a different company before they started Proper Good. One of the biggest takeaways that they learned from this was being able to build a nimble supply chain based on customer data and compared to wholesale or whole- compared to wholesale or grocery. This is way easier in the DTC world which is great for us because you get a lot of customer data. The Proper Good team was also on Shark Tank. And they speak to how about wildly increase their exposure and their sales pretty much overnight after the episode premiered, which how often do you get to speak to people who've been on Shark Tank, and they even speak to how you prepare for that they give us kind of like the inside scoop of it all and how they were I was very impressed to the steps that they took. Also something that is so incredible that I really admire about this sibling duo is how much they play into the brand, Jen and Chris, give us the inside scoop of it all. If you've not seen their promos, or their Shark Tank episode where they're in their hilarious costumes, I definitely recommend it. I think it's incredible that they play the part all the way through. And they even describe how Yes, their costumes, their branding makes their customers happy. But they even go deeper to explain how the product itself from its transparent packaging, from its quality ingredients to its readiness, even takes away some of their stress of their customers, which I think that was just so eloquently stated. When you listen to the episode, you'll hear their rationale for their branding, they can do way better than I had- than I they can they can explain their story way better than I can. But I've been- I've just never heard such a seamless explanation from all the way down to details like the packaging to the big umbrella of the brand as a whole. One- of course we touch upon customer attention. In this episode, I thought they had a really fun take on customer retention and talking about talking about developing the product having a good product that as soon as it is in front of the consumer, it is almost granted that they will be returning if they have a good experience and they like the taste. And they walk through how they break down some of the feedback. They walked through their subscription plans, SMS, even their micro product iterations, proactive communication with customers you can kind of check them all off the list they are covered in this episode. But this summary is only been the tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything that they are doing. So please enjoy this this episode with with Chris and Jen. Welcome to Retention Chronicles. Today we are joined by Jen and Chris at Proper Good. Welcome both. We are so excited to have you here. First, I thought we could introduce ourselves. So Jen, I'll leave it to you to go first.
Jennifer Jane 03:37
Perfect. Thank you so much for having us as well. I'm Jennifer Jane, and I am the co founder and CMO of Proper Good.
Christopher Jane 03:47
Wonderful and I am Christopher Jane. Obviously Jennifer and I are siblings and I'm co founder and CEO of Proper Good.
Mariah Parsons 03:54
Thank you both. And so what is Proper Good. I don't know if both of you want to kind of have your own take on what it is. But for our listeners, I know they would appreciate knowing exactly what Proper Good is.
Jennifer Jane 04:07
Sure. Perfect. So Proper Good is essentially a healthy ready meals company. And we make oatmeals chili soups and other meals which are already in 90 seconds and there's no refrigeration needed. So it's super easy to take them anywhere. You might just need a quick healthy easy meal.
Christopher Jane 04:28
Yeah, that's it. Yeah.
Mariah Parsons 04:30
Yeah, you got it. So I've actually I've had Proper Good before- I have to gush, for a quick second because I do I love them and like going on the go. It was perfect. I actually brought them into work my first week because our company sent me a little care package with Proper Good and so I was eating soups, eating soup the whole week that I started my job and it was it was incredible. Super like they taste so too, so I just have to give you a little bit of applause on that end.
Christopher Jane 05:04
Yeah. Thank you.
Jennifer Jane 05:07
Appreciate that. I'm glad and glad they all gave me some Proper Good. That's pretty awesome.
Mariah Parsons 05:11
Yes, yeah. So let's dive into both your backgrounds. Jen we'll start with you. So as you know, how did you get to founding Proper Good?
Jennifer Jane 05:23
Sure. So probably know, about 15 years ago or so, first started exploring the kind of the US Food Market and got into a different company there and really learn everything, there was a guess about the big, the big system that is the US Food space. And basically, when we were working previously, there was some other things that we were excited to try and different types of products and things. And then eventually, a couple of years ago, now we finally started probably good, but it definitely took us a lot of learning within the food space before we finally created this company.
Christopher Jane 06:04
Yeah, I've heard the food space is like very hard to crack into. I'm sure. You know, that's just what kind of floats around not having done it myself. So did you kind of feel like that, like that barrier at the beginning of starting Proper Good?
Jennifer Jane 06:21
Sure. I mean, I think obviously, like everything, there is so much to learn. And when you're a complete newbie, you are trying to learn, obviously, labor regulations at the same time and trying to learn obviously, graphics and all that type of stuff. Plus learning about ingredients and parts, there's a difference between making the recipes at home and then making them for a customer, obviously, learning about supply chains, and obviously finding good people to work with, like there was 1,000,001 things. And yeah, it definitely took some time to really start to understand how all the pieces fit together. And then obviously, once you've created the product, the whole thing of marketing it and all of that, you know, that lovely stuff that we're here to talk a little bit about today. And obviously getting to know all of those parts of it as well.
Mariah Parsons 07:08
Chris, is there anything you would add? You know, like, looking back on how you started Proper Good?
Jennifer Jane 07:14
Yeah, I think just quick context, obviously, for everyone listening, I'm sure they're familiar with consumer packaged goods. And like, it's just it's just a tough industry, right? I mean, you got you got a physical product, everything from supply chains and distribution to oversee everything else that comes with it. And it's just just difficult businesses, right, there's many rabbit holes to go down. There's many different ways to do it. Right, from grocery to DTC to alternate channels, there's literally 1000 different ways to go about it. And especially in the US, right, a big country of hundreds of millions of people, that's 1000s of different retailers. It's, it's really, really challenging industry to understand. So, you know, as Jen said, we were to have five co founders at a previous food brands. So we really loved the industry pretty well. They're over a number of years and Proper Good came about just because we said you know what, like, we love the food industry. It's a really fun industry, right? There's a lot of cool brands, a lot of nice people everyone's willing to share, like it's really fun industry. But it's a hard business to build right and definitely difficult business to build. So basically, I was doing my MBA at the time, and we said, look, we want to jump back in, we want to create a new company. And at the time, I was keto. I was trying plant based, I was doing some other things I found there were tons of snacks, right tons of snacks, and tons of beverages, some really good quality products for those types of things. But not many meals, right? I was still cooking meals from scratch. So we said look, could we create that kind of ready meal that familiar with in cans and so forth for 100 years? But could we create that sort of ease and convenience of a 90 second meal, but keto and zero added sugar and low sodium and ingredients lists that are short and easy. So, you know, that was essentially the goal of creating those easy 90 second meals using everything we'd obviously learned in a pretty much in the last 10 years, honestly. So yeah, no, we're super stoked to be back in the food industry.
Mariah Parsons 08:55
Yeah, you hear that excitement in both your voices. That's awesome. And you mentioned that you both were co founders of another consumer goods company. So what do you think like, what lessons did you learn having that company first that you brought to Proper Good.
Jennifer Jane 09:14
Sure. I think one of the big things was with previous company that we went into grocery pretty quickly. And we did great with that we got into 1000s of stores in what was hard about it was the data side of it. So we just didn't have good data. So we'd see oh, this Whole Foods is doing great. But the 120 miles away isn't, but we didn't really know why. And a lot of things like that. So of this company, we actually decided to do the opposite. We just said no to grocery, like straightaway. Anybody that asked, we're like no, we're not ready yet. So we went only DTC so that we can really understand our customer like, what they like what they don't like things like that so that then we could make any changes. Obviously it's a lot easier to change your products before they're en grocery. So basically that, okay, you know, this one isn't hitting the flavor profile, or this one's got a confusing name and things like that. So we were able to then change that easily within our own D to C. So when we eventually go into grocery, I think we'll just understand our product a bit better. And then you know, it'd be a little bit easier, I think, to do that whole rollout. Whereas I think we were so keen for that kind of excitement of wow, we're in Whole Foods, or we're in Sprouts, or whatever it is. But actually, it was almost too quick, I think, and we didn't have that time to learn, we've really tried to change it this time.
Christopher Jane 10:37
Um, just to add to that I think what's interesting as well, like data is obviously fantastic. But data is only useful if you can actually do something with it, right. And I think a lot of other problems with consumer products is the supply chain, right? They're often very long, right months, sometimes to get a product from a supplier to here, obviously, often fill a warehouse, you know, with 100,000 products to get a good price per unit and that kind of stuff. And suddenly, then five weeks in, and you get a bunch of consumer feedback, and you're like, that's a really good point. Like, we shouldn't have done that, or we should have changed this, I wish we could do that. But meanwhile, you've got a year's worth of inventory. So building supply chains that can actually be nimble enough to react like that. So as Jen said, we've got that data from DTC, right, whether it's our private communities, whether it's email surveys, whether it's just general reviews on the website, we can literally go within two weeks of launching a product. I don't know everyone finds this split pea, a little bitter. And then we literally work with the rest of the team. And quite literally two weeks later, the new recipe is launched. So we're trying to build that nimbleness, we can actually use the data to actually improve pretty much in real time or as close to it as feasible, I think is key. And then finally, just anyone's interested in grocery, as Jen said, there's this, I would really encourage people to look at the different areas of the food industry, like DTC one. But obviously, there's other things like cafes, hotels, coffee shops, there's many, many places, obviously, you can sell a product, where it's grocery has tremendous volume potential. But it's really hard, right? I mean, most brands do not make any money in grocery for the past year or two, right? The promotions, the bill backs, the off invoices, the kind of way that industry works has tremendous potential, but it's very capital intensive and very difficult. So it's like how early on, can we kind of test and learn and improve to the point of when we actually go down that process? We know the chance of success is obviously considerably higher.
Mariah Parsons 12:25
Right? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, someone, like I said, who doesn't have experience in trying to be or launch a product in grocery or DTC? And I'm curious how cuz I'm not familiar. How do you even get data from grocery because I'm very familiar with, you know, like you said, like, oh, man, you know, like customer retention, and getting all the data, the customer data along the customer journey in DTC, but how do you get that in the grocery world?
Jennifer Jane 12:53
Yeah, sorry, go for Chris.
Christopher Jane 12:55
I know, you're gonna send me on a tangent. So I would say it's genuinely really difficult, honestly. So as a big brand, right, you're a huge brand. Obviously, with unlimited resources, you have brokers and shelf placement teams are literally going into stores every day. The idea is you have an agreement with the store, right, they'll have what's called kind of a shelf set, where there's literally a 3d model of where your products supposed to go right? Eye to eye height, whatever it is. And yet, a lot of time, that just doesn't happen, right? The person stocking the shelves is not communicated properly from the manager, or whatever it is, and suddenly your products on the wrong shelf, or the wrong height or whatever you need. But you don't know that unless someone's physically in the store. And obviously, there are literally hundreds of 1000s of stores, though, you know, the resources. Yeah, the resources required for that is obviously tremendous. So for most small brands, obviously don't have things like that, you're essentially relying on very, very surface that will store data, which is essentially turns per week, which is how many units per week per store, you get that in a pretty simple spreadsheet. And that's it, right? So you have no idea, you know, it's not like we can see, you know, John purchase this week, and two weeks later, John came back and bought this or, you know, we don't have any credit card data, you don't have any way to like, loop it back to an individual person does a small brand and grocery it's, it's about as minimal data, honestly, as you can imagine, which is awful.
Mariah Parsons 14:16
Yeah, I can imagine it sounds doesn't sound like a fun time. Jennifer, anything you'd add to that I want to give you space.
Christopher Jane 14:24
Yeah, no, I was just thinking that it's funny because we know a few people that work in the UK food industry. And it just sounds a little bit easier, because there's kind of a few major grocery stores in the UK. And just because it's a smaller place where the density of the population is it's easy to get from A to B, whereas in the US, like Chris said earlier how there's just so many different chains that even if you kind of got to know one in a few of the managers there and they kind of keep an eye on things for you. You that's it's so hard beyond that, whereas you know, the UK sounds a little bit easier to keep tabs on things. but also just with the retention like with DTC, what we love is if someone buys keto from us, we release a new keto product, obviously, we can put that straight in front of them. And you just can't do that in grocery, obviously, you can do sampling. But again, it's just mad expensive and so hard. Whereas it's cheaper for us just to say, hey, have a free of our, you know, a free product, our new keto line, and they can try it, and it's very affordable for us to do and you have that direct communication, they can let us know if they love it or hate it. And we can obviously decide what to do from there.
Mariah Parsons 15:34
Yeah, it kind of takes out the middle person, and use that like direct, direct relationship to that direct line to the customer to get that feedback. And, you know, hopefully to get their business and have more data. There's one more thing that I would love to bring up about your guyses background, and is the fact that you were on Shark Tank. I think that's just crazy awesome. And I'd love to just know more about like, do you think that was a turning point? Because as I like a viewer sample, I'm like, oh, anyone who's on Shark Tank? It's like, oh, they made it, you know? And so, like, what do you think that did for your success? Or, like your business strategy?
Jennifer Jane 16:20
Yeah, I think the number one thing it did for us was actually gave us even more confidence in our product. Because as a small brand, it's so hard to let people know about your product, right? You've got limited resources, obviously, you're doing ads, and all these different things that everybody else but really getting, like mass people to know about. It's so hard and Shark Tank did that for us, basically. And we did an incredible amount of sales when we did Shark Tank. And then we've seen since that those people have, you know, come back multiple times already. So that really gave us Yeah, just real confidence in the brand. Say, Well, now we've gone from a fairly small customer base to a massive customer base, continuing to deliver, getting repeat purchases, was pretty amazing in that, you know, I think Chris and I were both if you have a DTC company, with a mass appeal product, like a food product or something, I think the Shark Tank exposure is pretty much the best you can get. And I would probably try to get on the show, if you could, would be my general advice.
Christopher Jane 17:24
Yeah, I'll just honestly so many fun things to chat about on that. And we can we can go into any of it really. But I would just say, you know, if you're selling a very, very specific product, like we've seen some people go on Shark Tank, they have like, I don't know, like an individual sandwich shop in, you know, x location in New Jersey or something. And obviously, it's really challenging because you get this massive media. But right, I mean, you're talking millions of viewers per episode, one of the most watched shows of the night, but you only have a single location, no one can come and buy it from you. Whereas the DTC brand, obviously, that traffic and instantly convert. And, again, as a price point, right, most of our items are 5 to $7 with free delivery. Like it's very approachable for quite literally almost everyone. So it's like, we were in a really nice position of we're a DTC brand. We have very approachable price points, they it's a very visual brand, right, as you hopefully saw, we were full theatrics, with outfits and so on. And, like, it's just a very entertainment driven kind of approach. And I think that worked really well for us. But as Jen said, it was definitely an inflection point. I mean, if you look at just general web traffic, I mean, we did probably get to two to three months worth of sales over the weekend. And then that was a sustained bump for weeks ahead, which was really, really helpful. And, and of course, you got the benefit right of that, as seen on Shark Tank and people just reaching out to you. And it's just, there's a whole general kind of wider halo effect, and which was, you know, super beneficial.
Mariah Parsons 18:44
Yeah, I imagine the publicity would be probably, you know, the biggest factor and like the biggest draw to going on Shark Tank. And so do you think like, you were like the company was ready for that massive, like influx of like, you know, of demand.
Jennifer Jane 19:05
So we, we prepared like crazy with our operations team. And we did pre pack, you know, isn't much products and boxes as we could and really tried to get ahead of the game, the whole team went to the facility as well, like Chris and I were there like for the airing, so that we could help basically pack boxes, try to get orders out on time. And we had I think Chris put together like a spreadsheet of all the different stages of you know, it goes okay, it goes medium or whatever we shot past the kind of best case scenario. So we planned everything. And yet still, we will, you know, struggling a little bit to keep up at the end, but it was pretty awesome. In that sense. Obviously, it's a good problem to have, right? Like we had so many orders. It was wonderful. We honestly were really appreciative to it's amazing as a small brand, going out there with his brother and sister. And you know, we're friends In the UK as well, so it's kind of like a bit of a dream scenario, just kind of you're on Shark Tank and things. And then to see the responses from people, it was really lovely. That's really cool.
Christopher Jane 20:11
I was just gonna want one thing on the on the tactical side for that, in terms of growth, it was, it shows, we kind of knew that there was, you know, there's kind of a cohort of just Shark Tank viewers that well, that will buy things right, because they're on Shark Tank, there's so we saw that I mean, before we even finished our opening pitch, right, so our whole segment was, I don't know, eight, nine minutes, something like that, within one minute in that website, following up with sales, right, people haven't even seen the product yet. They haven't seen the shark reactions yet. So they're just interested in clicking buy. So we created a whole separate funnel for that of, you know, most of our orders, if not all of them are essentially build your own right, you go and you pick and pack, you click the items you want. That's not what that consumers really looking for. Right? They're not reading, the more info they're not really about if they're literally sat there on the phone, watching Shark Tank going to click buy. So we could literally created the homepage of Shark Tank special pack, one click checkout kind of thing. And what that allowed us to do is before we built you know 1000s of those pre built Shark Tank packs. And what we saw in the in the data afterwards was about half of all of the orders, were just that pack. So for us, it was like, you know, well, the team worries about the other 1000s of orders are truly gonna pick and pack like our usual process, the 1000s of people that ordered that Shark Tank pack, I mean, they got their tracking numbers within like 24 hours of ordering, which it was just so easy from an operational point of view. So yeah, just you know, if you if you're lucky enough to get on and go through the whole kind of process, like, definitely, don't just be a we'll see what happens, I get it, this is real effort needs to go into avoid a complete mess.
Mariah Parsons 21:43
Yeah, you don't really want to lose, you know, lose the customer because of that reason, wherever, you know, they're waiting on waiting on something that you could have operationalize, or at least try to work towards before the airing of the show. And so with that, I think it's a good time to kind of transition into the brand perception. So what do you I know, like the crazy costumes, I love to touch upon that. And like the idea behind them, I think they're so fun. I'm so entertained by them. And I can imagine other consumers are as well. But so what's like the relationship between how you want the consumer to perceive Proper Good, and then, you know, kinda like the marketing strategy behind it all?
Jennifer Jane 22:39
Sure, yeah. I mean, I guess we want people to perceive Proper Good, as, you know, a proper food company. That, you know, back in the day, obviously, everything's being made from scratch, it's all very wholesome, good few ingredients, then you go right to the other end of the spectrum, and you've just got this kind of really long shelf life bad for you ready meal type of stuff, that is just not what Chris and I want to eat. And so we wanted to try to make that quick and easy side of it, with proper ingredients type of thing, you know, simple, wholesome, very easy to read ingredients, lists, and also fun and colorful and kind of like a happy brand. You know, like, we want people that they grab the meal, they read, you know, the writing on it, there's like silly quotes on it, and things like that, hopefully, you know, it makes you feel good. And what we've learned is, a lot of people do have these meals, when they're a bit stressed out, it's nurses on a busy shift, it's truck drivers, you know, having a very quick break and don't want to have something from the gas station, maybe it's busy parents, you know, just need a quick healthy meal. And so we tried to bring, you know, a little bit of just that happy moment into that. And we also have our happy spoons that we send out with orders, which are just very colorful spoons that are perfect for eating all of our meals with. So we really try to make the brand is very transparent, very simple in that sense. And hopefully just really, you know, solve a problem really, for people at mealtime, whether that's breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or whatever they need.
Christopher Jane 24:12
And only extra thoughts, obviously, agenda from a perception point of view is just, you know, it's very much we get to decide that right, which is the beauty of obviously running a small business, like we literally sat down and, you know, do we go on that on that spectrum of kind of, you know, very classic DTC, very clean fonts very simple couple colors in the palette, kind of a casper approach, that kind of thing. Or do you do the exact opposite were sort of like super random, very comical, very founder driven and like a bit of $1 Shave Club type of approach. Where do we want to go on that spectrum? And for us, you know, the English humor, the comedy things, which is a big part of our lives, it was like, we're not going to lean into that too much but like, how can we get some like connotations of that and so forth. Obviously, the name Proper Good, some of the fun fun, the fun style, the little jokes and things on the bottom of the packaging and things like that. It's just very personality driven. And, you know, it's a difference between a brand and us and a line of products right at the end of the day, we want people to see us as a brand, they want people to see the founders behind the brand, we want to have input on the product on the process, like we want it to be a very collaborative thing, which is very much a choice, right? There are plenty of companies that don't do that. And that's totally fine as well. It's just you kind of have to pick your pick your choice and kind of go with it. So we really wanted it to be a very open, transparent, obviously, everything's in transparent packaging, if you've seen it. And the idea is that kind of carries on through the the actual brand and communication as well.
Mariah Parsons 25:32
Yeah, kind of like sticks out with you, you know, whether whether it's the costumes, or like the fun marketing, I haven't heard of the happy spoons, I think that's a really cute idea. As far as brand perception, you're like, oh, like, if you feel good, both emotionally, like, you're like, Oh, this is so happy. Like, it's relieving a bit of stress from your day, like you said, Jen, or you know, it's like you actually physically feel good after eating the meal. It just kind of like sticks with you and has, like you said, Chris, the like connotation, having like good memories associated with it, like you want to go back, you want to, like keep purchasing, keep eating, keep interacting with the brand. So I mean, that's, that's, that's awesome to hear. And I do kind of see that as a, I do see that as a consumer.
Christopher Jane 25:33
Yep, for sure.
Mariah Parsons 26:03
And so now it's time we can finally dive into customer retention, as a whole. As you know, this is what the podcast is mainly focused on. But I'd love to have either one of you or both have your own spin on what is like the ideal customer journey that you're hoping each customer has when they first interact with Proper Good. I guess we'll start with you, Chris. And like if you could walk through kind of the ideal scenario.
Christopher Jane 26:54
Yeah, I think what's really interesting is that we've learned right from the beginning of, you know, we have so many different attributes, right? So whether it says As mentioned before, keto is a plant basis, it's zero added sugar. Is it the convenience factor? Is it like the breakfast, lunch and dinner options? What is it that's actually resonating with consumers? And we're in a really interesting place where, honestly, all of it resonates. But you obviously can't communicate that to everyone. So I think, you know, the three things that have kind of stuck out to us are their 90 second convenience, without a doubt, that clean ingredient list. And then the options for specific lifestyles, gluten free keto, etc. So for us, it's really those three entry points to the brand is what we really try to focus on. Obviously, we do a bunch of everything from from digital ads, and so forth which Jen can get into. But for us, it is really, you're coming to us likely for one of those three reasons, right? Convenience clean ingredients, or a specific lifestyle need. From there it is literally trying to get the food in your mouth, right? We have 7000 Plus Reviews, it's 95% positive, we know, if you try it, you're likely to enjoy it. Right? Our retention is very good. From a from a cohort basis. So it's really how do we get you to try it right? It's not it's not a $200 purchase, right? You can get $60 on our website for free shipping, like 30 bucks. And there's a 30 day money back guarantee. There's virtually no reason not to try it if one of those three entry points is interesting to you. So really, that's it right? Obviously, Jen can go into email, SMS and capturing retargeting and so forth. But for us, it's very quickly, whether you're discovering us from an SEO right, a lot of people searching, you know, meals at work, like things like that, like if you're coming from that there is no reason you shouldn't be trying Proper Good. There's no rescue, it's easy, it's cost effective, etc. So really, that's the journey, we're trying to say like we're solving a problem for you. You know, for us, we don't need to sell you too much on the product itself. I think the reviews and the PR and all the rest kind of build social proof around that. It really is give it a go. If you don't like it, we get your money back. Simple as that. So yeah, that that's from my end. But Jen's much more.
Jennifer Jane 28:55
You know, obviously I 100% agree with all of that. I think what's also interesting from a retention point of view. So one is because we listened to everything that everyone's saying, we do notice if something isn't hitting the mark. So for example, we had one of our products, it just got worse reviews, you know, to be open with you, then all the other products, it was definitely like oh man, this This isn't good. Obviously, we've got a lower percentage of people enjoying this what we'd expect. And so we then surveyed everybody and asked them like what was it specifically and we found what the issue was, and then we corrected it. And then when we relaunched it, we obviously sent the new version to everybody that had given us a bad review to say, Hey, we've listened. Obviously, you'd like that flavor sets to say, you know, someone picks it chicken and mushroom soup. If you like chicken and mushroom as flavors, then you get the soup and you hate it. There's clearly something wrong, you know, so it is the odd one. So we just tried to make sure that when we're looking at the feedback that we're just very honest, like, we may love it. But when you've got 1000s of people saying you don't, then you kind of have to say, yeah, we've got this one wrong, we go back to our lovely team that works on all the recipes with us. And obviously, we reevaluate the whole thing. So I think that's one big thing. And I think the retentions great for us as a food brand, because obviously, you have to buy more food. Shoes, arguably, you don't need another pair of shoes for a year, you know, but with our case, if you get it and you love it, then you know, you're continuing to solve that problem. So the retention for a food brand, I guess it's slightly different for other brands as well, which, which obviously helps us out. And I think the other thing is, we get a lot of people that are surprised that they like the brand in the sense that we'll put Facebook ads out there and people say, Oh, I took a bet on a Facebook ad, you know, I never thought I'd buy food online, that type of thing. And then once they try it, they often say surprisingly, I loved it. And that kind of links back into what Chris was saying that once they've tried it, then they come back again and again. So it really is just getting it in people's mouths to begin with. And then basically the food speaks for itself, I guess after that, but that first customer is. Yeah, that's a tough one to get. And obviously, that's why Shark Tank was, you know, pretty great for us as well.
Christopher Jane 31:23
Yeah, just to tack on one thing on the end that I think is interesting from whichever saying, obviously, you know, the Holy Grail, especially for a DTC brand is obviously customers bringing in new customers, right, that's the most effective for us, it's the most social proof in terms of a friend recommending it, and so forth. And we're really starting to see that now. So in that customer journey, we're really trying to build it, you know, whether it's referral, or affiliate, or just gifting or whatever it is, how do we get the people who enjoy it, to get more people to enjoy it? Obviously, for us, it's a much more cost effective way to do things. It's just hard to get going right? Getting that flywheel truly moving to the point scale, is really difficult. But, you know, everyday we're getting hit as Jen said, I'm a teacher, and I can't wait to show this to my other teachers, or you're in a co working space and began cooking food. As soon as you heat it up, the whole room smells nice. So someone comes over to you and says what on earth is that? And then, you know, suddenly, that kind of really starts to build a bit of that kind of organic, you know, awareness, if you will, or just peer to peer kind of introduction to the brand. So at the end of that customer journey, we're really obviously retention on a per person basis discussion, but in terms of getting people who love it to find more customers like that is a massive focus for us right now, for obvious reasons.
Mariah Parsons 32:35
And so with, like, kind of like building like that loyalty or referral strategy, how have you found other than, like, organic, kind of like referrals or like word of mouth marketing from current customers have you like had like a more of a push in your retention strategy to like, put an emphasis on that I'm not sure if you have like a referral, or a loyalty on like, the Malomo tracking page or anything like that, or like on your website, but is that kind of like how you've been trying to build it to be more scalable?
Jennifer Jane 33:09
Yeah, so I would say that the we do have referral program and a loyalty program, which definitely kind of took away in the background. But I think it's all subscriptions that really kind of have that retention for us. So when we look at the numbers, you get a 20% discount on our subscription, it's also completely manageable by yourself. So Chris, and I personally hate it when you have to call a brand to cancel your subscription, right, it's just so annoying, and it just feels a bit disingenuous as well. So for us, you know, right back to that core value of trying to be transparent, this is a situation, you know, so they can just get online, change everything in the backend. So you can switch products, add new products counts if you need to. And what's great about it is they get the 20% discount, what's great for us is that we can obviously predict our orders, make sure we've got enough stock of the products are all on subscription. So it just makes it easier for us to handle what we need to make, you know, obviously continuously churning out these meals. So that it is benefits both ends of it benefits the customer and it really helps us ensure that we can deliver on that customer experience without kind of getting caught out type of thing.
Christopher Jane 34:21
Yeah, we've spoken with a couple of different brands about the importance of giving kind of the user the like the reins when it comes to subscription and not having like to kind of like trick or like trap people in a subscription because that just does not create a great experience. Like you you had mentioned I hate that too is when it's so difficult to under unsubscribe, you know, you're just left with a bad taste in your mouth. No pun intended.
Jennifer Jane 34:51
And I think like us too, like we appreciate that, you know people's tastes change a bit like you might enjoy the product for a few months and you like actually, you know, I'm good A couple of months, maybe during the summer, or now I want soups back again. So it's just nice for people to know that yeah, if I, if I sign up again, I can also exit again, because it's a nice process. And while I'm in the process, I, you know, enjoy the discount. And we also provide, like, extra gifts and all this type of stuff to our subscribers. So we really do try to make sure that it's worth it for them to be on subscription with us.
Christopher Jane 35:24
Yeah, just one technical thing on your question around like, how are we actually getting people to kind of get other people involved, and so forth. I think one really cool program that we do is a donation program. So we actually donate a meal to a food bank, or food charity or a similar organization for every social media post that's tagged with eat Proper Good. So because the package you get, as you mentioned, it's fun, it's vibrant, everything colorful and humorous. And all the other stuff is very shareable. It is very obviously, visual. As a consumer, obviously, it's free for you to do that you just posted online and we obviously then track every post across the main channels without the eat Proper Good. And at the end of the month, we tally those up and donate meals, right. So we've deleted now 1000s of meals. But it's a win win, right? Because consumers get to post something which they like, which is you know, not a difficult ask, we get to see that. And obviously, that helps us because every post is building organic traffic, it's building awareness, and then on the back end, we donate a meal on your behalf. So it's a really win win kind of thing. So, you know, really leaning into that right now of, if you like it, share it, that helps us and it helps other people, but it's a true Win Win is the goal.
Mariah Parsons 36:33
That's awesome. I have a lot of respect for both of you for sitting setting up the system to kind of like benefit all parties. And I didn't mention this earlier. But I also very much respect sending like the newer version of the product to people who have reviewed it, and hadn't had, like, had a different interpretation. I really respect that. Because I think sometimes you can get like wrapped up in the pride of like, Oh, I like the flavor. So why are other people but I think it's very commendable to kind of like reflect and I think you have to be able to do that right to run a successful business, you know, retain those customers.
Christopher Jane 37:11
And with DTC it's obviously, that that is just not that hard to do from a technology point of view, right? We know who bought it, we know who didn't rebuy it, we have all their addresses, we have other emails like this is a little bit of lift on an operational side, but it's really not that hard to send out 1000 packages to someone anymore. So, you know, again, back to grocery days, we have no idea if you bought it and you liked it, or what do we have literally no clue. Whereas here, we can literally do things like that, honestly, on a weekly or monthly basis, we come up with some weird idea of you know, hey, should we send an oatmeal to all the people who haven't bought an oatmeal yet? Or should we, you know, this kind of stuff of just, that's, you know, engage with everyone and see what they want and try to try to do that.
Jennifer Jane 37:48
Great. I was just gonna add to that real quick in terms of the DTC is so an example was, when we first started the company, we had a soup that was called squash and carrot. And we thought that sounded quite proper, quite fun. It was basically a butternut squash soup that also had some carrot in it as many butternut squash soup to do. Anyway, we launched it, nobody really bought it as a single item. But we noticed that when people bought a like a pack, the item they'd come back for would be the squash and carrot, and also one of our highest rated was squash and carrot. And we quite quickly realized that everybody didn't understand the name. So we then changed the name to the more normal butternut squash, and the sales went up straight away. So again, if that was in grocery, we just be out, nobody likes it, it's it's gone. But because we could see that people were rating at the highest and coming back for it the most. It just really changed our perspective on it. And we were able to solve that problem, reprinted the labels. And yeah, a few weeks later, it was it was completely solved as this really exciting, be able to identify and solve your own problems. And I think it just really shows that sometimes. It's not that it's fundamentally flawed. It's just that you've missed something. And you know, you can rectify that and make everything great, which is pretty cool.
Mariah Parsons 39:11
Yeah, kind of like you're, you're hitting the target, but it's not the bullseye, it's like you have to kind of have to tweak it a little bit. But that's so interesting that like a name. I mean, it's silly sometimes. So think like, Oh, you don't really think a name or packaging or like any of those little things are gonna add up and make the difference. But like time and time again, they kind of prove to make that difference. So that's an awesome narrative to share. And so with that, have there been any like turning points in the customer retention strategy as a whole that, you know, you've kind of adjusted along the way of like, oh, we used to do it this way. But now we're gonna like totally transition and do this.
Jennifer Jane 39:54
Chris might be able to think of some key ones but I think honestly, it's more like lots of little steps. You know, like All this, we're going to change this slightly here, we'll change the, you know, the rewards on the rewards program, we'll move this button here. So it's easier to see we'll change the email follow ups or change the SMS follow ups, or try this new system or, you know, we'll try these types of ads, whatever it might be, it's little. And often, I would say, rather than oh, this is the thing that we changed. But I do feel that just going back to the subscription is that we did completely custom make our dashboard, obviously, with the help of some amazing tech people. And I think doing that was key for us, because they are, you know, a lot of them are either difficult to use, or just not very branded. And so for us, we wanted to make the brand experience travel through to that back end of the store. And I do think that's really helped. And we have seen the retention has improved with our subscriptions, since we made those tweaks and just made it a bit more yeah, on brand and easier to use for the subscription back end.
Christopher Jane 41:03
Definitely on subscription film, we've only had Proper subscription watching on eight months. And we really only did that back in maybe four months ago. So it's a really pretty, pretty new but without a doubt an inflection point, when you look at the data. I also think just obviously, as most people will probably say is SMS right? We held off of SMS, probably the first year of business, there is no denying that like that now has generated a significant amount of revenue and ROI of just, it's also easy, right? Like when we do like branded emails, obviously, there's a whole graphics processes or testing process. Like when Jen says, Hey, Chris, or write a text message, or we do it together. I mean, it literally was like five minutes, send out a text message and generate 1000s of dollars in sales is I mean, that's incredibly frictionless is just as great. So without a doubt that touch point has been good for us. And then just more agenda that's, you know, kind of whatever the opposite of death by 1000 cuts or right like built by 1000 bricks or something of like, it's literally just a continuous iteration process. Yeah, subscriptions been a big one, SMS has been a big one. Just trying to think of it any others that have kind of come up as inflection points, I would say, micro product iteration has been a good one for us. So we would say product launch is a retention strategy in itself. And back to the beginning of the conversation, you can only do that if you have the supply chain, right? I mean, we will often run a couple 1000 units of a new idea and just test it, and then it goes out of stock. And that's a good thing, right? It creates some urgency, it creates a little bit of FOMO and wants to get in on a new item. But for us, you know, it's we took your feedback, we've just relaunched the broccoli cheddar is now three times cheesier. And whatever it is, that's not a whole new product. But from a launch point of view, it gives us something to talk about. It's a fun story. You know, we took your feedback, we've iterated we've relaunched. That is a relatively easy process for us to do. But it creates a lot of buzz and things like that. And even more micro iteration I mean, at Halloween, you know, we changed some of our labels to be kind of ghostly, and Googly and black and kind of fun. And like, you just do that for the month of October, like creates a buzz and a totally different thing, you're gonna get a fun Halloween themed package and just micro product iteration as a retention strategy, I think it's pretty cool.
Jennifer Jane 43:11
Agreed, it just reminded me of one other thing is just like the proactive communication. So when we looked at our data, we could see that when we had shipping delays, which obviously outside of our hands, we can see it's left Proper Good on time very fast. But now it's been stuck out about for five days, you know, obviously, we have no idea why we're obviously contacting the carrier trying to find out and just kind of pre sending that type of communication before the customer reached out to you to complain to their Hey, we're aware of this, I think really helps with the retention because we just know that yeah, if people get late shipping, they're less likely to obviously buy in the future. And what we do now is like, for example, with the Texas storms, we just email everybody just to say, Hey, we've told the whole team to stay at home, no one's coming into work is too dangerous, your package will be late. And what's interesting about that is we usually get so like literally hundreds of emails back from people with lovely messages. We're just so glad your team safe. Thank you for looking after them. You know, we'll get it when we get it. Whereas I think if we didn't do that, it would be you know, absolute nightmare of where's my package and not happy customers? So I think that proactive communication does actually really help with retention as well.
Mariah Parsons 44:27
Yeah, kind of putting, like the reactiveness like taking that away of you don't know where your packages like where's it you know, I'm upset. I was expecting it. Kind of getting out in front of that, I think is a great point. And just like it also, I think it uses the customer because you're like, oh, like they're so aware. And they're so on top of it. I don't even have to worry about it now. Like, it kind of like takes away like, I mean, it builds a better like trust, I guess is the word you could put in there like oh, they know like what's up like they're taking they're their team, and they're taking care of the customers at the same time, like, perfect. Like, win win for everyone.
Jennifer Jane 45:07
Exactly. Yeah. I mean, at the end of the day, it's just real people behind the scenes trying to do a job. And there's always going to be problems, right? When you're sending, you know, 10s of 1000s of packages all the time. If there are going to be issues, things are going to get lost to get stuck, whatever it might be. So I think, yes, just managing that. And I think it really does help keep the customers happy. And yeah, in the loop really.
Mariah Parsons 45:30
Yeah. And I want to kind of dive into the micro iterations of products as well. I know, like, customer retention, I think it's a great point to say, like just the product itself. And we've kind of been hitting on this, of just like, if it's a great product, people will come back, and because they like it, and they enjoy it. So I think it speaks to the product that both of you have built is just as soon as it's in front of the consumer, and they try it, you know, you have a pretty substantial, you know, retention rate. And so why did you like, where did you first come to that realization that, like, little tiny changes in the product or new product launches- like you gave the broccoli cheddar example- was that always part of the retention strategy? Or was that kind of something that developed along the way?
Christopher Jane 46:21
I could take that one, I think I would say, was always part of the business strategy. So early on, we said again, back to our previous experience, that grocery again, a good thing we run grocery has potential and massive volume. But when you're young, it's not an iteration environment, right? It's not a learning environment. It's a sales environment. So for us to write, we need the ability to do that. So we did that. And then I think, as Jen said, we started to see in the data of wait a minute, every time we make an iteration, it seems like realize, like, oh, and like people love to get involved when we asked for their feedback. So it was always part of the business strategy. But it wasn't part of, I'd say the customer journey or retention strategy. Until it kind of emerged in the data, we'd never every time we launched a slightly tweaked version, everyone comes back, like you know, it's an interesting just kind of learning and I say the excitement around little things like like the Halloween labels, like the new spoon colors, like things like that. It's just, it's just fun, right? At the end of the day, like there are 1000 different ways to spend your money. You want to when you feel involved, as you said, you don't have to worry about it from a customer service point of view, you know, we've got covered, we know, if you don't enjoy it, we'll give you money back. So really, all you got to do is decide how involved you want to be. But I think, yeah, wasn't part of the strategy. But certainly, it's now.
Jennifer Jane 47:34
Agreed. And I think it's just a lot of it's just trying not to have ego around it. So for example, our chicken noodle, one of the complaints we got was a some people would say there weren't enough noodles in it. And we were like, That's weird, because there's a lot of noodles purposely in there. And we realized that you know, a few we're getting through obviously, again, it's just people making soup, and a few are getting through without many noodles. It's just a moment to say, right, guys, this isn't good enough, we need to sort this out. Because, you know, people aren't enjoying it as much without the right number of noodles. So it's just those little things of just also Yeah, just identifying the problem. And then sorting out for sure.
Christopher Jane 48:11
Okay, that yeah, that's great. That's great to know. I laugh because like the little noodles, like I would never think about that. Makes total sense. And one of the things just on that retention was it's funny because as I said, like, you know, close to 100% of people enjoy but obviously some people don't but you know, when you're shipping that many packages 1% of people not enjoying is actually a decent number of people. But so you have to obviously look look in the data of like, if you get 100 people's are actually love this soup. And then one is, this is awful. I hated it. It's like it's so interesting to like, why, like, obviously can't change the recipe from that one piece of feedback. But like, it's food, right? People have different tastes, palates, different sodium desires, different sugar desires, like everything. So you have to somehow take all of that and look through the kind of muddiness and try and obviously make something that is mostly enjoyable, but it's it's interesting, we did a thing recently gender and we will be sent an email to sort of different groups that are gonna have bought once had like, left a review, but hadn't bought again in like nine months. And you're like, why? Like you bought it, you'd have to five star review and you haven't been back like that. That's so strange. And you would think there's so much potential revenue for us there as a company. And it's amazing. The responses you get are just like, yeah, brilliant, not really loved at applying to buy again, it's almost been a year. Like it but yeah, people you know, nothing wrong with that. And obviously, it's just different purchase cadence. And then, on the flip end of that, we've got people on 3040 audits that are on, you know, bi weekly subscription delivery. So you have to try and build a system that's obviously best for you as a business from a fulfillment and simplicity point of view. But also build a system that allows people flexibility, because you know, not everyone wants to build subscription, not everyone wants to purchase the same items. Not everyone has the same desire to be involved. So it's really interesting just you know, a couple years in now we can see that the mass of different types of consumer behavior.
Jennifer Jane 50:00
Yeah. And I think you do also have to laugh a little bit too, like Chris and I enjoy reading. You know, right now, when we when we started, obviously the five star reviews what we went for that was exciting, right, you're getting your first ones coming in. Now we kind of bypass most of the five star reviews and go straight to the bad reviews. And some of them are hilarious for somebody coming in bought, let's say a pumpkin soup. And the review is one star. I hate pumpkin. I hate the taste of pumpkin. And it's like, okay, that we're obviously not going to iterate on that. Obviously, we can't change that a pumpkin soup tastes like pumpkin. And so I think you just have to laugh occasionally of just like, Okay, this is a bizarre situation. But everything else we tried to really, you know, genuinely deep dive and individually, email the customer and try to find out what's going on. But there are some funny cases that we It gives a bit of a laugh to the day for sure. Yeah.
Christopher Jane 50:55
Yeah, yeah. reviews I can imagine like in the beginning, and then kind of having that growth. Like you're like, oh my gosh, yeah, like the validation. Seeing five stars, you're like, you know, we're doing something right. And now you've had, you know, enough success where you can sit back and be like, okay, the one star reviews like, what's going on? Like, tell me exactly what you don't like? Like, wait, what? Yeah, for sure. For sure. I said that we were gonna do a little series on that. Because it's, it's hilarious. Like, you could come up with some great funny reviews that just just don't make any sense, right? Like, oh, I accidentally put in the wrong shipping address one star, like, how is that helpful? And like, you know, things like that is great.
Mariah Parsons 51:31
Yeah, yeah. Have you ever seen like the like, celebrities reading mean, tweets or something you could do?
Christopher Jane 51:36
Like, we've talked about that, yeah.
Mariah Parsons 51:39
Yeah. You're just like getting a good kick out of everything. That's awesome. Yeah. And so Okay, so a little bit of a pivot, but I mean, I know, like, through your products, you have like, clean ingredients, you know, no, sugar added everything? How did you kind of like, obtain that information? And like, make sure that you know, what your branding says, or what you're like, selling is actually accurate? Because I think like the food and beverage space or consumer goods, like, it's tricky, because, you know, labels sometimes, like there's so much information out there. And as the average person you might not, like necessarily know what to look for. So I know, Chris, you had mentioned like you were on those diets before, but I'm curious, you know, just to like know, from a product like those micro integrate iterations, how you grew that?
Christopher Jane 52:31
Yeah, from so from the good news is from like a food safety and compliance point of view, right? Obviously, it's pretty rigid, which obviously, a good thing. So, you know, the manufacturer has to have that right kind of certifications, both from a cleanliness and safety point of view. And then we have inspectors on site from the USDA, FDA, so on and so forth. What's interesting, though, the labels themselves, right, you essentially come up with a recipe, you know, go through that process of taking it from a home recipe that we literally make ourselves through to, obviously commercially viable recipe. And that goes through the same software everybody uses, right, so as I spit out the nutritional label, based on all the ingredient inputs from all the different suppliers, or vegetables and so forth, that you're using. So honestly, it's a pretty simple system from that point of view. And then it's really up to us to say, you know, here's the recipe, what, what is the nutritional look like? And what are the ask, there's a bit bit too much sugar in that that's kind of outside the boundaries that we think are appropriate. And they just tweak it, see if it still tastes right. And you go through their kind of iteration process about right, we've landed on a suit that has hit most of the things and I think what they're really challenging is though, is what to choose to hit on. Right. keto is obviously big right now plant based is big right now. But yet there's millions of people who are gluten free, whether celiac or just by sort of choice, you know, so it's really intuitive. Where do you go or diabetics, right and low sodium, there's so many options. The end of the day, food needs to taste good. That is still number one. I think you find a lot of these brands where you're almost too healthy. And I've tried to write these like amazing proteins, zero sugar, zero carb cookies. And you're like, Yeah, I'll buy it once because that's sick. It's everything I want. It's awful, right? It just tasted actual cardboard, like, so it's like to how do you get to a stage of creating something that hits most of the checkboxes whilst being delicious, right, like the other day, flavors gonna come from fat, sugar, things like that. It's like, you can't have a zero fat, zero sugar, zero carb, all of this and still taste amazing, right? Especially if you want no added preservatives, no artificial colors, flavors, so forth. It's just very hard. So you kind of have to pick your choice of, you know, we want this to be keto. We want this to be gluten free. We want this to be low sodium, but we're going to accept a few grams of sugar because it really helps with that sweetness or bitterness or whatever it is. So really a preference driven thing. And we do a lot of surveying, right? We have a private slack group. We have private things like that of what would be interesting to you. One thing I would say over the years is we actually first started having anything was ever added sugar, that was a claim for hours. Oatmeal, it's really hard to do, right? You need a little bit of sweetness, even if it's just fruit, it's not necessarily added sugar, but if it's just there is just sugar in fruit, how much you can really do about that. If you don't have that you just have an oatmeal that's like a bunch of nuts or something, it just doesn't taste good. It doesn't. So we were a bit nervous of when we're stepping away, here, we're gonna have some oatmeals of some sugar, some maple. Now we've kind of stepped away from one of the brand values. I don't think we've had a single pushback email Jen have we I mean in the 1000 sold now, no one cares, right? Because it's not 20 grams of sugar, it's not 40 grams of sugar, a random drink from a coffee shop, it's a few grams of sugar that makes it taste delicious. So I'd say you know, you don't want to get stuck in this mentality of here's a core brand goal of ours, here's a pillar of our sort of, you know, name that you've just sort of made up that no one actually cares about at all. So we're really trying to live in a space of iteration and learn as we continuously go.