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Despite this, few people relish the experience of visiting a mattress store or actually buying a new mattress. It was never just about a mattress.

To build that kind of brand quickly, the company decided to short-circuit the process of mindshare-acquisition by going straight for the American tastemaking jugular. Casper also reached out to various Instagram and Twitter influencers, leveraging its Hollywood connections to get some high-level buzz going around its mattresses.

The company opened a satellite office in LA with the main objective of getting more influencers on board. All over Instagram and Twitter, you can find heavily retweeted and liked images, GIFs, and videos of influencers sitting and smiling with their blue and white-striped Casper deliveries. This NYC and LA-focused strategy stands in striking contrast to the geographical distribution of your average mattress company. The company built a culture around sleep — something that could transcend mere foam and latex.

Casper did that by moving out to the coasts and calling upon the tastemakers and socialites to help the company build its brand. It tapped into the psychology of the waiting list to drive demand.

Industrial Transformation Blog

When you think of the things people wait in line for, you might think of the new iPhone. Find something people overpay for relative to the cost to manufacture, then make it cheaper. I think about disruption as being a way to innovate and so blatantly change things for the better that you become an industry standard.

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The basic idea was simple: a waitlist. It also gave the company a chance to start doing some customer development work, as sending out free handles and razors to the most prolific referrers allowed the company to get a sense for how people felt about its product before releasing it to a wider audience. The campaign had some simple but effective incentives to encourage people on the waiting list to send links to their friends.

The more people you invited, the more prizes you could get:. Almost 1, shared it with 10 of their friends. In a sense, Glossier was able to engineer a similar formula — get engagement first, then launch the product. The idea was to talk to celebrities and various moguls about their makeup rituals, trying to write about them in a more casual, authentic way. The blog got popular, grew, and eventually hit 1. Traffic histories of intothegloss. After all, their founder has about 15M followers on Instagram and appeared in the film Sin City.

Celebrity founders can be purely ceremonial — percentage points on a cap table who get paid because of the exposure they bring to the company. But she was able to use her celebrity status to textbook perfection in getting the company noticed and evangelizing its story. The Honest Company got started while Alba was pregnant with her first child. Part of what sets The Honest Company apart from many of the others that we studied is the relative scale of its product line.

Rather than starting with just one or a handful of products, it launched with Any parent who wanted to buy chemical- and irritant-free diapers was also going to want chemical- and irritant-free baby wipes, and chemical- and irritant-free shampoos, and so on. We actually have to have a wider menu to see whether people care about healthy food.

How US M&A will transform businesses in a changing world

Like falafel, every one of those 17 products would be quickly consumed. A product that is used up and must be replaced relatively quickly is also a good product to sell through a subscription model, especially to busy new parents. The subscription model gave The Honest Company a further asset — a built-in incentive to stick with the brand:. Jessica Alba, on the other hand, has both proven her public dedication to the mission of The Honest Company and she has If successful, that community can eventually take off and be self-sufficient, as we can see in the case of food replacement company Rosa Labs and its first product Soylent.

A screenshot of a machine learning-based tool that will help you build your own meal replacement just like Soylent — all you have to do is enter your ingredients. Source: Laverty. A year later, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency banned the startup from operating in Canada due to it not meeting certain nutritional standards required to be classified as a meal replacement. And yet these are the kinds of issues that are easier to surmount when you are constantly reinventing yourself.

Soylent Bars need not be an albatross if you can just shed them from your product line. Co-founder Rob Rhinehart started off his experiments with Soylent by posting recipes he was trying on his personal blog and sharing them with others in the biohacking space. Those are software company numbers, which makes sense given the affinity between the business models of Soylent and software. Suddenly, consumers could access software over the web — and developers could push updates continuously.

This allowed software to improve gradually over time. Customers no longer had to wait for a new version to be physically pressed to a CD, shipped, and released. Soylent takes the same agile methodology and applies it to food. Each new version gets a new decimal-point version number e. Each new version also addresses shortcomings in the previous product and iterates based on testing and customer feedback from the 1. Xanthan gum was reduced to 1g from 1. Hundreds are reading about and reviewing different Soylent shipments at any given time, asking questions about which versions taste best and what other food items to mix Soylent with.

Each update, however, is merely about bringing small incremental improvements to the core idea behind Soylent. In other words, Soylent is designed to be more or less nutritionally complete. By compressing the treat-toy-accessory buying experience into one package, BarkBox simplified modern pet accessory shopping. But to make people take notice, BarkBox looked to the familiar channel of social media for some viral leverage. BarkBox started in as a side project for co-founder Matt Meeker. He joined forces with fellow tech entrepreneurs Henrik Werdelin and Carly Strife, but kept the startup lean, only hiring one staff member a year into the launch and building a basic site to test interest.

These early adopters of BarkBox wanted to show off that they were in on a new service. The company devised numerous ways to encourage recipients to post unboxing videos and photos on social media. This included a referral program and coupon codes. When a new BarkBox customer took a video of their unboxing and uploaded it to YouTube or Facebook, tagging it with a specific hashtag, they could get a discount on their next order.

Bombas is another company that aims to be inextricably connected with its community. Bombas is a buy-one-give-one company: for every pair of socks you buy, a pair gets donated.

Consumer Packaged Goods Trends

But in an attempt to strengthen its brand proposition to customers, Bombas decided to keep its philanthropic mission local: supporting the homeless in and around the places where Bombas sells its wares. Socks are among the most requested clothing item at homeless shelters. However, most homeless shelters, citing hygiene concerns, do not allow second-hand socks to be donated. Instead of focusing its efforts abroad, Bombas focuses its donations on homeless shelters in the United States — an advanced market where the risk of knock-on negative economic effects would be limited.

The idea was also part of the genesis of the company itself. Bombas aimed to avoid these kinds of criticisms by focusing its philanthropic efforts in two ways — by staying close to home, and by giving away a product that targets a specific unfulfilled need of its recipients. On Amazon, quality is delivered through a tailored selection of choices — each one right for a different kind of shopper. The successful D2C companies we looked at, for the most part, approach quality from an entirely different direction.

Defining Product

They cater to the desire to avoid choosing, and the desire for something that is just fine. You can see this if you read critical reviews for many of these products on the internet. A fair number of mattress critics say Casper beds are overhyped.


The Honest Company has been in plenty of hot water over the quality of its products. And as for Glossier, as one commenter wrote on MakeUp Alley:. What they do rave about is the process of actually getting a Casper mattress delivered. What they love is how easy it is to always have fresh blades on hand with Dollar Shave Club, and how simple it is to buy The Honest Company soap. They are a class of products where the end-to-end experience of selection, purchasing and customer service is more important than the product itself.

Make no mistake, sometimes choice is not the virtue it seems to be. Their products may be just Good Enough in most cases.

The end-to-end user experience, however, is so much better that it elevates them above their traditional competitors. Because these brands can truly own the customer experience and delivery, they can create an end-to-end customer experience that is better than anything Amazon or a traditional retailer can offer.

2. Harness the Power of AI in Demand Forecasting

As a previously unknown brand, Bonobos saw early on that providing a differentiated customer experience was going to be important. There was one shining model in the e-commerce space to imitate, and that was Zappos. For Bonobos, that meant cultivating a culture of ultra-responsivity on its support team — a culture which resulted in:. Central to the Bonobos idea was great pants. But the brand needed to embody this idea of overwhelmingly-great service too.

That branding created an early impact. A good metric for measuring the success of branding is direct traffic rate — how many people come to your site simply by typing it into their browser vs. Bonobos has a direct traffic rate of The level of the Bonobos customer experience has remained high over time. Among the companies that have taken the Bonobos ideology to the next level, Soylent stands out.

The Soylent team is actively involved in the community, almost treating its customer base as an extension of the company.