S2 E24: BEST OF 2022: DTC Brands


On this episode of Retention Chronicles, we go through some of our favorite season 2 moments with DTC brands. We feature highlights from;

  • Steve O’Dell, Co-Founder and CEO of Tenzo,
  • Michelle Paulhus, Sr. Growth Marketing and Retention Manager of Olipop,
  • Tim Swindle and Scott Brown, Co-Founders of Paddlesmash,
  • Hannah Toporoff, Social Media and Marketing Coordinator and Jennifer Mckay Newton, Founder and CEO of DefineMe Fragrances,
  • Sergio Tache, Founder and CEO of Dossier,
  • Matt Orlic, Founder of Football Supplements,
  • and Luke Kingma, Creative Director at Bored Cow.

Be sure to subscribe to our pod to stay up-to-date and checkout Malomo, the leading order tracking platform for Shopify brands.

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This transcript was completed by an automated system, please forgive any grammatical errors.


people, brand, cow, episode, dtc, purchase, milk protein, perfume, pop, retention, founder, leading, fragrance, insulin, product, retail, produce, post, scent, education


Luke Kingma, Steve O'Dell, Tim Swindle, Hannah Toporoff, Yaw Aning, Brian Lastovich, Mariah Parsons, Michelle Paulhus, Jennifer McKay Newton, Sergio Tache, Matt Orlic, Alicia Gaba

Mariah Parsons 00:04

Hi there, I'm Mariah Parsons, your host of retention Chronicles, ecommerce brands are starting to shift their strategy to focus on retention in the customer experience. And so we've decided to reach out to top DC brands and dive deeper into their tactics and challenges. But here's the thing, we love going on tangents. And so with our guests, you'll often find us talking about the latest trends, as well as any and all things in the Shopify ecosystem. So go ahead and start that workout or go on that walk and tune in as we chat with the leading minds in the space retention Chronicles is sponsored by Malomo. A shipment in order tracking platform improving the post purchase experience, be sure to subscribe and check out all of our other episodes at go. malomo.com. Hi, everyone, this is the first episode to our special series with our favorite season two moments from 2022. This first episode specifically focuses on our chats with DTC brands. While next week's episode will focus on our ecosystem episodes. I'll give an intro to each snippet. So if you want to listen to the full conversation, you know which episode to queue up without further ado, here's season two, episode two with Steve O'Dell, co founder and CEO of Tenjo, a leading moto brand. So do you think that's also part of like moving with the times like for a brand to succeed you need that, like that connection? That person that you're looking at? And like know, that is attached to a certain brand?

Steve O'Dell 01:47

Somewhat? Yeah, there's a balance there. I think it makes it a lot easier. But like, I also don't think it's absolutely necessary, either. You know, and like, if you think about, let's say, like, you guys know, liquid IV, or like a really big hydration company.

Mariah Parsons 02:04


Steve O'Dell 02:06

What's up with this work, Brian?

Brian Lastovich 02:07

Because yeah, you're the founder. I can't like this is the problem with video. Yeah, the founder loves liquid IV. And he, like says he drinks one daily. Right? Is that what he said Daily?

Mariah Parsons 02:22

Yeah, he loves it. We also had it at our like, off site.

Brian Lastovich 02:31

I will say, though, that like, for me, I can't prove my own hypothesis. But like Steve Jobs led me to like, always, like, I was always a big fan of Steve Jobs. Like I got his biography over here. And that led me to the brand. And then as soon as I just saw, like, the quality and like, just the why behind the brand, like the company for the last 15 years.

Steve O'Dell 02:51

Yeah, and I totally agree. Like your comment. There's a lot of truth and hypothesis. I think that stands but there's a lot of things we need to do outside of the product also to make people stick around. And that's like any customer service and you need good marketing and education and you need to stay relevant, like a lot of those things.

Mariah Parsons 03:13

Next up, we have episode six with Michelle Paulus, senior growth marketing and retention manager at all he pop a healthy soda brand.

Michelle Paulhus 03:26

Yeah, that's, that's really what we're seeing right now. I looked a couple weeks ago, and really did a deep dive in our post purchase survey where we asked, you know, how did you hear about us first, and beginning of the year, retail was towards the bottom of that list of how people had heard about us. I've heard about us more through, you know, paid ads, social digital stuff. Now in August, it was the number one place people had heard about us. And so, shifts, you know, throughout just, you know, the course of this year alone has really changed how people are interacting with Ali pop, you know, initially, which I think really, you know, from a DTC perspective might seem like, maybe it's a bad thing, we're gonna lose some of our DTC business to retail but I think with the way ollie pop approaches, kind of our omni channel approach to things I think that's actually a really good thing for our DC business because it allows people to have easy access to try a can find their flavor that they like with so many that we have available, and then filter in through buying on DTC. So I think kind of, it's I think of retail is kind of like a billboard for our b2c business and really taking that approach to things. And another interesting thing we've learned this year is we've surveyed people who are buying repeatedly on drinky drink ipop.com And we ask the question, do you also buy in retail like Are you actively buy through us and in retail, and like 58% of people say they're buying in retail and online? And from us. So we know people are shopping in various ways and we kind of as a brand and a business are kind of agnostic to where people are purchasing, which is a totally different perspective for me coming from a strict DTC business and being an open mind to, you know, our goal is really just to reach as many people as possible and be where people are shopping, however they want to shop versus trying to force people kind of down certain funnels.

Brian Lastovich 05:34

Well, let's hit on that. Because on the emails that Mariah and I received, like, once we ordered a rally pop, I would say, that's, that's what came across, it was very educational. Especially like, hey, you know, the confirmation of the order. And I think the order was shipped, it was all about like, Hey, here's why this is good for you. So that's on purpose, obviously.

Michelle Paulhus 05:57

Yeah, yeah, we really, in the last year have structured our kind of post purchase journey based on kind of the first purchase, second purchase. And third purchase in terms of what we really want to communicate and kind of how we trickle that education over time. It's really focused on like, the first purchase is kind of defining what is a new kind of soda, that's the goal of that, that post purchase flow. Second purchase, we start to get a little bit more into function a little bit more about fiber, a little bit more about the microbiome. So it's kind of trickling education without like, kind of shoving it in your face right at the beginning, that can be a turnoff for a lot of people. But as you get more invested in, ollie pop becomes a habit, you're drinking it regularly. We want to educate people on you know, what that's actually meaning for you. And you know how it can make a difference in your daily life without necessarily starting with that meeting with that we're leading more with the, you know, it's a new kind of soda, rather than it's a sparkling health tonic.

Mariah Parsons 07:03

On episode nine, we're joined by Tim's window, and Scott Brown cofounders of paddle Smash, the next backyard game where pickleball meets roundness.

Tim Swindle 07:17

And it's just funny, like, without really trying, basically, here, we're getting like, almost all of our sales are from Utah. So there has to be this correlation of like, you know, people have bought it in a particular location, and now they're playing it. And so then it's just getting picked up by other people who probably have seen it or played it. And then the other thing is your point about like, our people going into stores not knowing what it is. That's the beauty of cell phones these days. I mean, we have QR codes on our packaging, just in general, like if I'm at a store, and I'm like, Oh, what's this, I can just whip up on my phone. And I'll just look it up search and just see what it's all about, you know, and just see, like we've had, obviously we're on social media, people can see it being played. So that's another just beauty of technology today, where, you know, even if you're not familiar to it, if people aren't familiar on shelves, they can kind of quickly just look it up when they're standing in front of it and see if it's something they're interested in

Brian Lastovich 08:18

Yeah, I think, you know, it just takes a lot of luck to get something to move, it just does, I've tried hundreds of times to get products off the ground. Some of them have and some of them haven't, and a lot of its luck, but I think Tim has a great line which is just that you're trying to spread out your surface area of luck. And so just like like we're trying to get product out there and hope that something catch and it's a little spray and pray but I think it's more strategic than that. I think we're like very strategic about where we're seeding this and then you know, there is a little bit like hope hope it catches but again the pioneers in this space it's been that they've like spread the word. And then it started to catch with a few of those people they spread it out to and then it just kind of gets enough momentum. It's like a train like it takes a lot of motion it takes a lot of energy to get the train going but once it gets going it holds the momentum pretty well

Mariah Parsons 09:16

this one we pulled from Episode 12 with Jennifer McCain Newton founder and CEO and Hannah topper off social media and marketing coordinator at to find me fragrances a fragrance brand all about bringing out emotions through fragrance

Jennifer McKay Newton 09:36

so I began kind of connecting sent to an inspiration or a special a word or meaning. And so then that that turned into its own line of candles because people really resonated with the the emotional connection to the candle because scent is very connected to your limbic system of your brain when you smell something Then it goes directly there, which is the emotional center of your brain. And that's where, and at the time there were studies out on it, but it's just kind of starting. And so throughout the years, it's gotten more, you know, more studies are out. How sent really does affect you and does connect to well being.

Alicia Gaba 10:23

When I look at how you describe Kahana on your site, and how I experienced it, it is 100%. Yeah, so you guys do an amazing job.

Jennifer McKay Newton 10:31

That's great. Thank you. We also do quizzes and like the quiz we have. We've we've had, we'll take it Yeah. Oh my god, that's so true.

Hannah Toporoff 10:46

We put a lot of a lot of effort into making those quizzes accurate, like they're fun to take, like everybody loves taking an online quiz, but we really put a lot of thought and a lot of effort into being careful with it in the way that like, okay, the results that you get, we really want it to reflect what we actually think. What's that we actually think that you're going to enjoy and a lot of people have been like, wow, this was like you told me I was a an archery and I bought archery

Jennifer McKay Newton 11:14

and I love it. Yeah, there's very distinct like sense like people like fresh and floral or they're like Marcin by seeing somebody can say, Oh, I don't really I really just don't like scent. I like really soft sense. I'm like, I know which one, you know, instinct for us. Yeah. And we have like less than a 1% return rate from our online business, which is

Mariah Parsons 11:44

this next one is from Episode 15, with Sergio Tashi, founder and CEO of dossier perfumes, and affordable perfume brand with luxury scents.

Sergio Tache 11:59

Yeah, that resonates with me a lot, because I think you learn so much by talking with other people. And obviously most new people, that's great, but also even watching people, you can always gain something and you never know where the next great piece of advice for your life or your career is going to come from. And it's all about listening and integrating that and say, Okay, that makes sense to me, that maybe makes less sense for me. But it's I think it's tremendously important to go through that process. I always say I think I've been very lucky in my life. But I also think that to some extent of creating my own luck, and you create that luck to the conversations you have the opportunities you see and seizing those opportunities I'm a firm believer in what you just what you just said

Yaw Aning 12:50

like how do you Yeah, I mean, you actually answered a lot of it but but how do you leverage YouTube video to like, really Yeah, in your marketing and drive people to action because I feel like the the perfume industry in general has has used that tactic for decades, right like Chanel and Dior, right? Whenever you're watching a commercial about a fragrance it's not really about the fragrance. It's like many like soap opera is the story that like evokes this like feeling or experience. I'm almost wondering like, is there a new age version of that, that you all are doing to that like, inspires people to action? And yeah, I'm curious, like, what why do you think video works for you in like, what are you doing that you think is working?

Sergio Tache 13:33

So I think this goes beyond what you just asked? I think it's super interesting question and it goes beyond just the influencer marketing part. Just to finish on the influencer marketing side. The way we work with them is that there are some, some key messages that we want to get across. And we will be very specific about that. But how they get those key messages across depends on them. They're creators, they know their audience. If you try and script them too much, it's gonna feel scripted. It's not gonna work. It needs to be their voice transmitting these three key points, whatever those key points are. And I'm we're firm believer that we work with a variety of influences. When not when not very specific in terms of okay, it needs to be this Kenny just kind of atmosphere. Not everybody likes perfume, or at least a lot of people like perfume. We're very comfortable working with a large variety of influences. Now going back to what you just said, which is super interesting, what kind of message we're trying to convey. And that's something we thought about from the get go. We always felt that luxury perfumery was this very aspirational and accessible industry with all that aspiration you know, the typical Dolce Gabbana is like some super classy guy with a half naked woman on a beautiful beach somewhere watching Amana.

Mariah Parsons 15:09

Conveniently, they have a bottle of perfume on the beach.

Sergio Tache 15:14

Because everybody knows that, so that we want to be the opposite of that. And by the way, don't get me wrong. These are fantastic brands, we're nobodies compared to the Chanel's and bushy Boswell. They're extraordinary brands, but we wanted to not be that, we want it to be a much more warm, accessible brand. There's a big component of education with everything we try to do. So just to give you an example, if you like the names of our products, it's not like no smoking tonight, or whatever crazy name we can come up with. It's more it's all about the ingredients, you know, floor Marshmallow, got it, you know, every single name is constructed with the fact of family and then the main ingredient that was

Mariah Parsons 16:05

second to last, we have episode 18 with Matt Orlick, founder of football supplements.

Matt Orlic 16:17

Yeah, I think that is the case for most industries. I think the football market is it's an infant stage of supplementation. Like what a carb is, it's extremely fun. And based on I said back then I haven't done psychology stuff like that. But when I try and stop analyze why that is and how and get away with so much it seems to be in all parts of life, the more authentic your day to days, the more authentic Your activities are, the more you get away with your life. Like for them all became just become so easy, because they just love the game so much. So they can kind of afford to eat shit and the body compromises you know, where in other words like you will be able to have an office job and you know, eat the way they do and still perform at the highest level. So they've been able to get away with a lot more than they probably should have the game is becoming increasingly more demanding, and plays catch your life and do it right, you know, it can join moments. So that's gonna make a big difference. I think it needs to come when people start to realize how important it is

Mariah Parsons 17:21

with education, at least from Malomo, like post purchase, we see a lot of the need for educating obviously your customer we talked about it a lot, your consumer. And so how do you actually roll out those strategies like after say, someone is buying from you like what is the post purchase journey look like for football steps?

Matt Orlic 17:45

Yeah, once they come into the funnel, we're trying to educate them also on the actual specific products and how to use them. And Watson timings that's probably the the main focus for us and also the continual educational process as to new new findings, new science, in terms of the landscape of nutrition.

Mariah Parsons 18:08

And our last feature for the best of 2022 VDC brand conversations is from Episode 21 with Luke KingMa, Creative Director at board cow, the leading brand for animal free dairy milk.

Luke Kingma 18:27

To start is explaining what animal free dairy is, and why it is. And I think we can, we'll move into the actual branding decisions from there. But I think as a baseline, you know, animal free dairy is an oxymoron, you know, up until just, you know, less than 10 years ago, really, anything that was dairy was not animal free. And anything that was animal free was not dairy, right? Those two things were incompatible because dairy has always come from cows, as we all know. And so what has changed over the last 10 years is that we're actually using a technology that's been around for about 50 years called precision fermentation. And this is a process by which we can teach tiny invisible microflora, how to ferment different things. You know, 50 years ago, we started to use it to produce insulin, as most people know, insulin, you know, historically comes from pigs. But human insulin, which is something that obviously is much more compatible with our bodies, is something that we learned to teach microflora how to make and so, you know, most insulin now is made through this process of precision fermentation. From there, it was actually cheesemaking that started using precision fermentation, there's an enzyme called rennet that traditionally comes from the stomach linings of like small cows and other kind of ruminants. Mmm. And so now most cheese makers use precision fermentation to make enzymes without needing to slaughter a baby animal in order to get those enzymes, right. And so now we can use it to produce animal proteins for food making and so perfect day, who's our technology partner with bored cow has figured out a way to make milk protein, specifically whey protein, which is one of the two main proteins found in cow's milk, through through fermentation instead of by milking a cow. And so, you know, and then, you know, the follow up question is always like, why, why? Why are you going to all of that effort to produce something that already exists? And the answer, of course, is that, you know, our food system accounts for around 1/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions, it's responsible for up to 80% of the deforestation that's happened over the last century, it's responsible for about 70% of all freshwater withdrawals. And most of that is because of the meat and dairy industry, which is an incredibly energy and resource intensive industry, that also produces a lot of emissions and specifically methane. And so, you know, by making milk protein, with microflora, we can generate up to 97%, fewer greenhouse gas emissions use up to 99% less water, and up to 60% Less non renewable energy than milk protein that is sourced from cow's milk. Going in, we knew that we wanted to build a nostalgic brand, that both sort of like harken back to the golden age of like cereal mascots, and like back of the cereal, box games and mazes, you know, and things like that, that sort of we grew up with, but also a product that could become in 20 years, the, you know, the brand and the product that today's kids look back on and say, I grew up with board, cow, and I'm now in histology for board, cow. And so looking ahead to try to create a brand that is nostalgic in the future, at the same time. And so we knew that we wanted to build this like character driven, immersive brand universe, you know, I, I'm a writer by trade. And so like, I just wanted to make a universe that I could play into, you know, to be honest, but I also knew that like, that was something that if you did it the right way that people would fall in love with and so worked with manufacturer and they worked with an amazing illustrator named Katie Perez, who drew all have the cow characters and universe herself, we went through a whole bunch of different types of cartoon cows, I could show you like a deck that we have, that's like all the other different types of cow characters that we explored. But it was sort of like the simple round, sort of minimalist, you know, quirky cow that I think really sort of like one on one all of our hearts. And so yeah, so we went with that. And then we decided to create archetypes. Based on, you know, the story of board cow is that for 10,000 years, cows have been working for us. These days, they're working in factory farms, producing milk for us, you know, they're spending very little time outside very little time with their calves. And we think that's wrong. We think that's sad. And we believe cows should be free to do whatever they want. We believe that cows should be bored. We think that bored cows are happier cows. And so, you know, we've sort of taken that idea and run with it. And so we started to think about, like, what would cows do if they had all the free time in the world? And then we asked ourselves that question, you know, what would we do if we had all the free time? We want to be when we grew up, and it was, you know, things like I wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to be, you know, rock star. I wanted to be a professional skateboarder, and we're like, well, let's just like nachos up. Let's make the cow sort of extensions of our inner inner child you know,