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Sip On This: Why Bev is Investing in Customer Service and Mobile Marketing to Upend the Alcohol Industry

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Entrepreneurs are, by nature, risk-takers. But most would still think it’s crazy to invest your entire life savings on 300 gallons of rosé. Nevertheless, that’s the true story of how Alix Peabody started her company, Bev

Sold online and in-store, Bev is a made-by-chick alcohol company famous for its canned rosé.  Alix says that Bev’s secret to success is built on some key pillars, the most important of which might surprise you: customer service. On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Alix explains why ecommerce brands should be investing heavily into their customer service operations. Plus, she reveals how she is capitalizing on the huge percentage of buyers that come from mobile.

Main Takeaways:

  • Integrate Customer Service into the Company Culture From the Start: Too many companies gloss over the importance of having a good customer service operation that is integrated into the company as a whole. There is a real importance to this team, and it is critical to understand how influential and impactful they are when it comes to new product development or flagging recurring issues that could turn into beasts down the road.
  • The Influence on Mobile: A staggering percentage of ecommerce orders are taking place on mobile (I bet you can’t guess exactly how high this percentage is for Bev!), which makes investing in a frictionless mobile experience a must-do for brands.

For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Key Quotes:

“I knew nothing about booze, I knew nothing about the industry. I really wanted to make a voice for women, and good dudes, in a space where there just really hasn’t been much out there. So, I tried to figure out how I was going to sell this product?”

“Beverage is such an interesting category because people don’t realize how emotional it is. But brands really drive a lot of the purchasing power in terms of what people choose to consume, because it says a lot about who you are. Think about Monster versus Red Bull, Fiji versus Smartwater. It’s more emotional than people realize off the bat.”

“From an emotional perspective, it’s been important for us to really make sure that who we are and why we are is front and center and easily accessible [on the website]…We’ve seen that our repeat purchase rates are really strong because people become such advocates of not just the product but the brand.”

 “My favorite compliment is, ‘Wow, it’s actually delicious.’ I love that because it means people don’t expect it to taste how it does out of the can.”

“The way that we really try to attack marketing is making sure that the messages that we’re sending aren’t too many. They’re very focused on what we want to do. So, for us, it’s really that we’re a made-by-chicks, zero-sugar product and our mission is to break the glass. That’s what we really try to hone in on.”

“One of the things that really surprised me at the very beginning of takeoff is customer service and how critical that is. You can turn somebody from a ‘Karen,’ into an evangelist with a strong customer service team. I think people underestimate how revenue generating that can be.” 

“[Customer service] is the voice of the brand. They’re the literal person that people are communicating with. So, we actually have a policy where anyone who starts especially on the marketing team has to do two weeks of customer service, they have to understand who our customers are, how we talk to them, how we interact. It’s critically important. I think that team has to be so well-trained on culture and brand voice and mission and making sure that they’re constantly getting better and getting better.”

“The loudest people are the ones that drive conversation a lot of the time. I think brands fail when they try to be everything to everyone. That’s not a brand. That’s just a thing. We are who we are. We care about what we care about. That’s where you’re going to be the difference between a product and a brand that has real lasting power.” 

“About 70 to 80% of purchases are made on mobile…. I was really surprised by that, that people are buying on their phones, because they’re seeing it on Instagram and TikTok and all of these different outlets, where they’re sitting on their phone and they’re clicking through. So, making sure that process is seamless has been really important.”

“I’m a huge advocate of quality over quantity. So, I would rather have a longer-term partnership with a fewer number of people, where they’re repeating rather than just one huge post from a large scale influencer. We’ve seen bigger ROIs on the smaller people with higher engagement.”

Mentions:

Bio:

Alix Peabody is the Founder & CEO of Bev. Alix started Bev after cashing out her 401K and investing all of the money in 300 gallons of rosé. Today, Bev is a multimillion-dollar company that is distributed online and in stores.

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

Transcript:

Stephanie:

Welcome to Up Next In Commerce. This is your host Stephanie Postles, Co-Founder at Mission.org. Today on the show, we have Alix Peabody, the Founder and CEO at Bev. Alix, welcome.

alix:

Thank you so much for having me.

Stephanie:

I’m excited to have you on. It feels like the perfect environment to talk about beverages with everything that’s going on.

alix:

Oh, my gosh. Yeah, I mean, so much consumption in my world for sure. It’s been a little bit of a crazy time.

Stephanie:

These days, I have to limit myself. Wait, did I just have wine yesterday, the day before, and the day before? I need to chill. I have to pull myself [crosstalk 00:00:39].

alix:

Yeah, 100%. I mean, it’s funny too, because we’ve got moms with kids working from home and people trying to separate their days and all that kind of stuff. So, I feel for them, but glad we can be here to help.

Stephanie:

Yes, me too. So, I have read your backstory a little bit of it. You have a crazy backstory of why you started this. I was hoping you could start there where you go through, “What led you to starting it?”

alix:

So, it’s a crazy story. When I first moved to San Francisco, I was 24. I’d been working in finance for a couple of years. I moved out there thinking I wanted to learn a little bit more about the whole startup world and all that stuff. I took a job as an Executive Headhunter helping startups place C-suite level employees essentially. Right when I moved there, I got pretty sick. So, I had a whole bunch of issues with my reproductive health system. I was totally drowning in medical bills. I was trying to figure out, how I was going to pay for all this stuff. I had to freeze my eggs. It was a total nightmare. I started throwing these parties. I was charging tickets for these parties, which people didn’t realize I was using to pay down a whole bunch of medical care.

alix:

I went to a school that was very frat centric. I worked in finance, and I was in tech. I’ve always cared a lot about gender dynamics and drinking culture and how we interact with one another when our guards are down. I started to notice that there was just a really different energy when you’re in a female-owned social space. At that point, I realized that I wanted to do something that addressed that in a way that was positive and fun and approachable. So, I started looking around, realized that I was going to really need a product to sell if I wanted to have a brand and a mission. Alcohol seems like the lowest common denominator. So, I weirdly ended up in wine.

Stephanie:

At the perfect spot to land. I mean, so tell me a little bit about you come on to this decision that you want to start in the alcohol industry. What happened next?

alix:

Yeah. So, I knew nothing about booze, I knew nothing about the industry. I really wanted to make a voice for women, and we say, good dudes, in a space where there just really hasn’t been much out there. So, I tried to figure out, “How was I going to sell this product?” There’s so much legal stuff that goes into the industry in general. It’s so hard to get on a shelf, because you have to go through all of these different loopholes. So, I realized that there was a loophole to the system, specifically in wine.

alix:

The reason for that is basically that if you’re a California vineyard, you can have a tasting room and a wine club. So, I realized pretty quickly that I was going to need to have a wine-based product if I wanted to be able to sell online. So, that I could have a proof of concept before trying to get onto the shelf. That’s how I ended up with rosé in can as our first product.

Stephanie:

And beautiful can.

alix:

Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s funny. My cousin’s handwriting is actually what’s on the side of the can, once our origin logo.

Stephanie:

That’s good handwriting. I would not have known that’s handwriting.

alix:

Yeah, yeah, we had to make our own font. It’s funny, but anyways, yeah. Basically, at that point, I realized I had a 401k from my first job, but I’d forgotten about. I cashed the whole thing, bought 300 gallons of rosé. We were off to the races.

Stephanie:

That’s amazing. Where did you even send these 300 gallons of rosé?

alix:

Yeah. Actually, I wasn’t even… Don’t tell anyone I said this, just kidding to anyone who’s listening, but I wasn’t even licensed at the time when I made our first proof of concept. So, I wasn’t allowed to sell it. I technically purchased it from a winery under their license as a direct to consumer sale. So, I used the product to go seed investors basically. I would bring it to all of these different parties. And then a couple days later, I asked for an introduction from a friend to a potential angel investor. They’d be like, “Oh, my gosh. That stuff was everywhere.” But I actually put it there. So, it was just the hustle is starting together original around the funding.

Stephanie:

So, since you bought that 300 gallons of rosé for $20,000, have you changed the product? Is it a new different wine now? From where it started, where is it today?

alix:

Honestly, we hit it pretty well in the beginning. Wine is so interesting, because there’s so much chemistry that goes into the profile of making it. So, we basically done a whole bunch of blind taste tests of a bunch of different types of rosé and just went to our winemakers. We’re, like, “Build us this backwards.” So, there’s definitely been some fine tuning and making sure it’s as delicious as possible and sugar free and all that stuff. But it’s pretty similar to what it was at the beginning. Now we have additional products as well that all have a similar profile but are different varietals.

Stephanie:

Okay, cool. What’s the strategy behind putting it in the can?

alix:

Yeah, at the beginning, people ask me this a lot, because they’re like, “Oh, cans are exploding. This is such a new category.” When I did it, it was not normal. It was super hard to find somebody who would even can it. We’re talking three years ago before you really saw any canned wine on the shelf. The reason I did it was pretty practical. I had no money, right? So, I was like, “How am I going to make something that is branded, and that people recognize if you pour it into a glass and you don’t know what it is?” Right?

alix:

So, in my mind, I was like, “Well, if I make it almost like Red Bull-esque, where it’s a really identifiable can, it’s cute, it’s Instagram friendly, the product will start to market itself.” That’s how it ended up in a can’t honestly. It was no real strategy at first, but I also wanted to really be able to play against the beer culture, which that seemed to make sense at the time.

Stephanie:

Yeah, I mean, that seems like such a great way to get that word of mouth marketing working for you, just like it worked in the beginning with investors, but also, having something that people share where it’s different. I mean, even thinking about the amount of bottles of wine, I wouldn’t think to share one of them or even remember half the time where it came from or the brand that’s behind it. So, it seems like a really unique way to get people to share for you.

alix:

100%. If it’s cute enough and fun looking enough and whatever, people want to take pictures with it. They want to be seen holding it. I think, beverage is such an interesting category, because people don’t realize how emotional it is. But brands really drive a lot of the purchasing power in terms of what people choose to consume, because it says a lot about who you are. Think about Monster versus Red Bull, Fiji or whatever it’s called versus smartwater. It’s more emotional than people realize off the bat.

Stephanie:

Yeah, I love that. So, how are you going about garnering that emotion and developing that community, which seems like a very important part of why you even started this company? How do you do that day-to-day now?

alix:

Absolutely. I mean, there are so many different ways. I think we really are digitally native brands, which is such an overused term, but we’ve really been able to build out a community online and get our message across through our social platforms and all those types of things, where people really know what we’re about and who we are and why we exist.

alix:

Originally like last year, there was a lot of event-based marketing that we did, where we had actual events that people could really get to know the brand and obviously that all came to a quick halt in early 2020. But now we have brand ambassador programs that actually have community ways that they communicate with each other. They find people to go out with together, even like housing. It’s really become more than just a brand ambassador in the traditional way, but a real community where they are communicating with each other as well as with the company.

Stephanie:

That’s great. Have you seen any success with virtual things? I mean, you mentioned that brand ambassador and building a community online, but are there other things that you took your event budget and moved it over to something new to try out virtually?

alix:

Yeah, I mean, we’ve done a few virtual events. I think people got a little tired from them a little early on. I think, where we’ve seen a lot of word of mouth growth and that kind of thing is actually because of the form factor, it’s so easy for social distancing, right? You don’t have to split a bottle of wine and use glasses. It’s sanitary, stuff like that. We’ve seen a lot of word of mouth coming from people ordering cans and being able to sit outside far apart and enjoying the same thing, which has been pretty interesting and not something that I would have thought of originally when COVID hit. But that’s definitely been something that’s worked in our favor.

Stephanie:

Oh, that’s really interesting. Are you leaning into that trend once you started seeing it pop up, starting to create conversations around that and showing, “Hey, look at what our other customers are doing”?

alix:

Oh, for sure, for sure. In addition to that, in what we call on premise, like bars and restaurants and stuff like that, it’s so much easier for takeaway, right? Ordering something, being able to throw a can in a bag and go do your thing has been something that’s been helping the category all around.

Stephanie:

So, when you were building out your ecommerce platform and thinking about building out a shopping experience to sell alcohol online, especially one that caters to women, how did you think about setting up your website in a way that someone would go there and be like, “Oh, I want to order this right now,” or “I really feel a connection with this brand”? What things did you implement or personalization did you implement on the website? What things did you build out that really worked?

alix:

Yeah, I think it’s funny, because when we first built the website and my Head of Marketing, who also happens to be my husband… He’s awesome. Well, that actually happened second. He was recruited once after we got married. He was telling me, “We have to invest in the website. We have to invest in the website.” At the time, honestly, I didn’t get it, right? I was like, “Our website looks fine. It’s cute. It’s whatever.” I’m so glad that he did, because it’s made frictionless buying… I’ve started to realize just how important that is. Things like Apple Pay and making sure that the website’s easy to navigate has really converted for us.

alix:

I think the other thing, from an emotional perspective, it’s been important for us to really makes sure that who we are and why we are is front and center and easily accessible. That’s something that, I think, people start to poke around the website. They start to really get, I mean, I hope so anyway, who we are, and that brings them into the family more. We’ve seen that our repeat purchase rates are really strong, because people become such advocates of not just the product but the brand.

Stephanie:

That’s great. Because we’ve talked about this quite a bit, on-the-shelf brands like Bombas or Yellow Leaf Hammocks. There’s always this tricky balance between selling the brand and everything you’re doing around the brand, maybe the social good aspects or things like that, but then also selling the product and making sure people know the products very good. How do you think about that balance, especially on a website where someone could quickly just come on there, look at something, and then hop off?

alix:

For sure. My favorite compliment is, “Wow, it’s actually delicious,” because that means that… We get that all the time, where it’s like, “Oh, this is actually really good.” I’m like, “Well, yeah. I mean, duh. I’m not going to sell you something that I wouldn’t want to drink.” But I love that, because it means people don’t expect it to taste how it does out of the can. It’s great. But I think focus is so important when it comes to that. I think the way that we really try to attack marketing is making sure that the messages that we’re sending aren’t too many. They’re very focused on what we want to do, right. So, for us, it’s really Made by Chicks, zero sugar product. Our mission is break the glass, right? That’s what we really try to hone in on.

alix:

I think there’s a lot of A/B testing that goes into, “Okay, what consumers are really looking at the products and are buying for the first time, because of the product versus buying for the first time because of the brand and the mission?” I think a lot of the times people are going to buy a product that they’re excited about or that they’ve heard about or that they want to try. If they if they like it, that’s just straight table stakes. That’s when you start to see repeat and people really start to become evangelists. So, it is a fine line and one that I think is constantly evolving, but something I think the team has done a pretty good job of navigating and just making sure that it’s focused.

Stephanie:

Yeah, that makes sense. The brand can draw people in or the purpose can draw them in, but then you have to have a good product. That’s how you get your repeat buyers.

alix:

Oh, for sure. Yeah. It’s table stakes, right? If it’s not delicious, it’s not actually delicious.

Stephanie:

Yeah, actually good.

alix:

Yeah. If it’s not actually good, then you’re not going to get what you want.

Stephanie:

Yup. So, earlier, you’re mentioning about investing the website. What were some of the biggest changes that you all made? You mentioned frictionless buying, but what other things did you update where you were surprised by increases in the metrics you’re watching or performance or buying rates?

alix:

Yeah, well, everything. I mean, we had to redo the entire thing. For us specifically, there was a lot of programming that had to go to the back end to make sure that everything was compliant, because we are alcohol. There’s a lot of legislation rather. There was a lot of build out that had to go into that.

alix:

And then I think the other things that helps are having things like a chat on the site, where you can reach out to customer service and these types of simple things. We’re continuing to expand on that and stuff like loyalty programs, because the repeats are so strong. People want to recommend it to their friends. There’s been a lot of different things of that nature. Also, just making sure that the tech stack on the back end is strong, so that we’re learning right and evolving as we see customer behavior.

Stephanie:

So, you built out this new platform. You’re trying out chat bots and everything. What kind of metrics are you monitoring to see if things are going well? What do you look at every day or week?

alix:

For sure, I mean, obviously, top line, we’re looking at AOV, average order value. Lifetime repeat rates are huge. We have a subscription service on our website as well, because people really love their wine. So, making sure we’re keeping an eye on churn. Things of that nature are pretty straightforward, but I think all of that is really important in understanding the health of the online business and the brand.

Stephanie:

How do you keep customers engaged? Whether they’re in a subscription or they just bought for the first time, what kind of methods are you using to engage with them and keep them coming back and keep them subscribed?

alix:

Well, we have a fair amount of email marketing that we do that we found works really well. We try to make sure that we have content that’s interactive. I think one of the things that really surprised me at the very beginning of takeoff is customer service and how critical that is, right? You can turn somebody from a “Karen,” if you will, into an evangelist with a strong customer service team. I think people underestimate how revenue generating that can be. So, that’s definitely been a big thing for us.

alix:

And then in addition, we’ve been doing SMS and a lot of things that keep us top of mind without oversaturating people’s inboxes and having them unsubscribe or anything like that. The other thing that I think is important is just… My husband always says this, “Say what you do and do what you say,” right? So, make sure that we are delivering orders on time. If we go out of stock, people will drop their subscriptions, because they got their most recent one later than they thought they would. Now they have too much wine or stuff like that. So, really making sure that the execution behind the marketing is there is so critical.

Stephanie:

So, I want to dive a bit deeper into that, building out a good customer service team, because I think that’s something that’s really important that I don’t see enough brands investing in. I want to hear how do you go about building a team like that, who can, like you said, turn a Karen into a loyal customer? What kind of training are you giving them? How do you think about building up that team?

alix:

Yeah, so that team is really at the end of the day, the heart and soul of the organization. I think a lot of places make mistakes and not treating it as such. They’re the voice of the brand. They’re the literal person that people are communicating with. So, we actually have a policy where anyone who starts especially on the marketing team has to do two weeks of customer service, they have to understand who our customers are, how we talk to them, how we interact. It’s critically important. I think that team has to be so well-trained on culture and brand voice and mission and making sure that they’re constantly getting better and getting better, right?

alix:

So, implementing new systems, pulling insights from our customers, seeing what they’re asking for, which helps us decide what new products to develop, all of those kinds of things. So, I think a lot of the time, those positions can be undervalued. At the end of the day, that’s where you’re going to get so much information and so much communication with your customer and so much insight into what you should be building.

Stephanie:

I can see there being a lot of value too with, like you’re mentioning, gathering that feedback and seeing what customers are asking for, seeing what the conversations are, and then doing a full circle back to the team. So, then they know, “Okay, here’s what other team members keep having to respond to. You probably will, too,” and just using it as a training method as you ingest that data and getting it back to them.

alix:

Yeah, exactly.

Stephanie:

So, with that customer servicing, when you’re getting all the feedback and all the data, how do you go about organizing it in a way that you can make decisions off of?

alix:

So that is really the team lead, right? She pulls together reports for us on a weekly basis that are major insights. The team under her flag certain things in different categories, whether it’s major complaints that we’re seeing or major requests or what some of the positive feedback might look like. Obviously, to me, the negative feedback is more important, because that’s where the real learnings are going to be. But we have a system of tagging in various categories to make sure that we’re pulling those insights into the metrics that we find important. If people are choosing to cancel, why are they choosing to cancel thing, things like that. So, that’s reported up. We have consumer insights meeting at least every other week.

Stephanie:

Yup, that’s cool. What are some of the most surprising insights or complaints that you’ve gotten that you were like, “Oh, I wouldn’t have expected that”?

alix:

Unfortunately, some of the ones that I’ve found to be the most upsetting are people who like the product but don’t agree with how we communicate about the social issues we care about.

Stephanie:

Oh, I see.

alix:

Yeah. That’s been a tough line, because we’re here with a very specific mission and purpose. We are about women and women and men treating each other right and addressing toxic masculinity in a happy way. We’re very clear about our communication around things like sexual assault in our industry and date rape culture and all that stuff. I’ve had moments where people… They’re like, “Keep your views to yourself, I would have kept drinking your product otherwise,” or whatever it is.

Stephanie:

Oh, my gosh.

Stephanie:

Well, I am happy that you guys stood up to those people, because I think there’s going to be room for more brands to start speaking up against crazies, because right now, I do feel like a lot of brands actually sometimes get bullied by whoever’s loudest on the internet.

Stephanie:

I think there’s a lot of room for more brands to speak up like that behind the decisions that they’re making, instead of just conceding to the loudest person on the internet, which might not even present the majority.

alix:

100%. I mean, the loudest people are the ones that drive conversation a lot of the time. I think brands fail when they try to be everything to everyone. That’s not a brand. That’s just a thing. We are who we are. We care about what we care about. That’s where you’re going to be the difference between a product and a brand that has real lasting power.

Stephanie:

Yeah, I love that. That’s a good quote. So, with everything’s going on with a pandemic, have you seen buying behaviors change? Earlier, when you were mentioning about reasons people are canceling, have you seen new reasons pop up for why they’re canceling that we’re different than months ago or why they’re buying that’s very different than six months ago?

alix:

Yeah, I mean, six months ago, it was harder to get people to buy alcohol online, right? It’s generally you’re going from one place to another. It’s oftentimes an impulse purchase. You’re on your way to a friend’s house or on your way to a party. I would say we’ve seen an uptick in the way people are purchasing our products more than we’ve seen some of the difficulties that other brands are seeing during the pandemic, because they don’t want to go out. This is not something that historically people buy in a forward looking predetermine fashion, if that makes sense. That’s changed. They want things at home. They don’t want to have to really think about it. They’re not going out as much. So, that’s been huge for us, where we’ve actually seen a huge lift in online purchasing and online subscription.

Stephanie:

That’s good. How are you guys leveraging mobile? I know earlier, you had mentioned SMS. How do you think about that, especially when it comes to mobile ordering?

alix:

We definitely do SMS marketing. Like I said before, making sure that the mobile experience at our website. Honestly, I believe it’s about 70 to 80% of purchases are made on mobile.

Stephanie:

Oh, wow.

alix:

Which is crazy.

Stephanie:

On your website?

alix:

Yeah, on our website on mobile, which is pretty nuts. Yeah. I was really surprised by that that people are buying on their phones, because they’re seeing it on Instagram and TikTok and all of these different outlets, where they’re sitting on their phone and they’re clicking through. So, making sure that process is seamless has been really important.

Stephanie:

That’s huge. That’s a very big number. I wouldn’t expect it to be that high on your website. So, where are these customers coming from? What are your best channels right now, where you’re getting the most customers from?

alix:

We’re really trying to diversify away from just Facebook and Instagram. Though obviously, that’s a big funnel for many brands, but it becomes addictive. It can be fickle and expensive. So, we’re really trying to diversify different ways that we acquire customers that are more organic, whether again, that’s our brand ambassador program, influencer programs. We’ve actually seen a lot of success on TikTok. That’s not paid, because we’re alcohol. So, we can’t actually advertise on TikTok. So, all of that has to be organic and influencer driven. Funnily enough, I was pretty surprised, but we’ve seen a fair amount of return on podcast advertising as well.

Stephanie:

Oh, that makes sense, because podcast listening is up as we know. So, yeah, that makes sense for that to work out well.

alix:

Yeah. Our email marketing is pretty strong. So, once people are in the funnel, we do see a fair amount of lift with emails. Just making sure that all of it is on brand and the brand voice is really consistent and makes people feel like we’re not just a bot, but we’re real people that are reaching out to them, we’ve found to be something that consumers get excited about.

Stephanie:

That’s cool. So, earlier, you just mentioned about influencers and TikTok, how are you going about partnering with influencers? Who do you find to be the best influencer? How do you find those people? How do you work with them? Because we’ve got a lot of listeners ask about working with influencers and that people don’t really understand, “How do you start those relationships? Do they actually have a good ROI? How do you find good ones?” So, let’s start with that.

alix:

Yeah, I mean, it’s tough, right? I think we’re in a very lucky position, because nobody is going to say no to free product.

Stephanie:

Okay, that’s how you get them in. You offer them free products.

alix:

For the most part. Do you want to try this out? Here’s what we’re all about. Here’s who we are. Making sure that those interactions are direct and actually a real person, not templating things. Doing your research on what these people are about, who their following is rather, how engage they are. Really doing your homework and being thoughtful in the way that you partner. I’m a huge advocate of quality over quantity. So, I would rather have a longer term partnership with a fewer number of people, where they’re repeating rather than just one huge post from a large scale influencer. We’ve seen bigger ROIs on the smaller people with the higher engagement.

Stephanie:

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that same theme. Is there a certain level where you’re like, “Up until this point, if they have this many followers or less, free product will win them over. And then after this point, then they’re just going to be looking for money or something else”? Is there a certain barrier maybe?

alix:

It varies. It really varies, because I think, for us, people get excited about us for different reasons. As I mentioned before, whether it’s product, whether it’s the mission and they just want to get behind it, whether it’s just being part of the community, right? So, we’ve seen people want to post and engage for all sorts of different reasons. There isn’t really a fine math to it. I would say, the more macro the influencer is, we found the more that they want to get paid. But also, it really depends on who it is. But by and large, I would say that the returns are not as good.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Yeah, that’s good to know. So, what is a favorite piece of content that either you’ve created, or an influencer has created, where you’re like, “This is really fun or funny,” or drove a lot of purchases, anything come to mind?

alix:

So, we have a small silly thing that we do. We have this weird sub cult of grandma’s drinking Bev.

Stephanie:

Oh, my gosh. That’s great.

alix:

Which is funny. So, there’s this one influencer we’ve worked with called Ms. PattyCake. She’s done the funniest content for us, where she’s just this fab grandma. She’ll like dress up in full extra clothes and be drinking our cans of wine and stuff like that. So, I mean, that’s one of my personal favorites. Whether-

Stephanie:

That’s great

alix:

… it’s going to drive the most traffic, I couldn’t tell you. I mean, another partnership that we did that’s been really great is Serena Kerrigan and her Instagram show, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that.

Stephanie:

I’m not. Tell me about it.

alix:

Yeah. Yeah, totally. So, during quarantine, she basically created like the first reality television show on Instagram. She started going on live dates on Instagram Live with random guys from her house. It became such a funny cult following thing, where people were just login. It’s actually on Wednesdays at 8:30 most the time just to watch her go on a date, whether she goes on the second date or whatever. So, we sponsored her for her second season. I think that’s one of the big things too. The bigger the influencer is, the more brands they’re working with. We really like to find people who are fun and own themselves and very mission aligned and empowered that are earlier and up and coming. We found that to just be way more effective.

Stephanie:

That’s great. I need to go and watch that. That sounds really funny. How did you find her? How do you find these smaller people? Because that always seems like the hardest part for me anyways. Think about like, “Oh, go find an influencer, who has a good following. These people will actually want what she has or he has, but they’re not too big where they don’t ask for crazy things.” How do you find those people?

alix:

That is a great question. The team is really good at that. I’m not necessarily doing this all myself these days, but I would say that it’s especially tough for younger brands, because there is such a capacity constraint in terms of time. It really, really is a full time job keeping your finger on the pulse on what’s going on social, right? I think it changes so quickly. What people are doing online changes so quickly. I mean, they can change in the day, right?

alix:

Making sure that you’re that you’re responding without losing your authenticity, and also, just being engaged with your consumers and who are they following and what are they excited about and seeing if those audiences are like-minded people. It’s a lot of keeping your finger on the pulse. Frankly, it’s a lot. It’s a lot of time.

Stephanie:

What are you seeing when you sponsor a series on Instagram like that, where it’s more product placement, where it might not be something that that person is referencing but she’s in the scene; versus the ROI on a platform, maybe like TikTok, where they’re probably putting it more front and center? That’s what their post is about. What kind of ROI should someone expect when utilizing these two different methods?

alix:

I mean, honestly, it varies, because a lot of the time in TikTok, it’s not necessarily just about what the product is. A lot of the time, it is something that they just happen to be drinking while they’re saying something funny. And then they might like off the cuff mention it. Whereas on Instagram, you’re looking at more of a hard post. You can track the ROIs with specific codes that you’re giving influencers and stuff like that.

alix:

So, it’s something that I think we’re really trying to fine tune in terms of, “How do you track those ROIs in an effective way?” But for us, we’ve seen that TikTok engagement in particular is really interesting, because it’s still newer and the algorithms aren’t as tightly figured out as Instagram is from what we’ve started to see. So, the ROIs can be much higher. But again, it totally varies, and it really depends on the content of the person.

Stephanie:

Got it. That makes sense. Are you working on any new crazy things like crazy marketing campaigns or channels that you’re trying out or anything where you’re like, “I have no idea if this will work, but we’re going to try it”?

alix:

Absolutely. I mean, we’re really trying to build out our own content marketing platforms. We launched a podcast that did quite well, that I was actually the host of.

Stephanie:

Nice.

alix:

It’s called Made By Chicks. Yeah. So, figuring out we’re trying to build out more of, “What does our newsletter look like? How are we bringing value-add content to people? How are we doing it in a way that’s not necessarily just sales emails, but really addressing who we are and giving people value outside of our product alone?” Right? So that’s one of the big challenges that I think we’re going to see in 2021, is “How do we build that in a way that has a strong ROI? What do those ROIs look like? What kind of partnerships can we get involved with?” These types of things is something that we’re really going to focus on for next year to get away from the Instagram addiction, if you will.

Stephanie:

Yup. Yeah, I think it’s good to start exploring new things like that. Yeah, we work with companies all the time, who are thinking about building podcast or sponsoring podcasts. It’s definitely a good avenue to explore, because it’s only increasing. At least podcasting is only increasing, not people listening.

alix:

For sure, for sure.

Stephanie:

All right, so let’s move over to the lightning round. This is where I’m going to ask you a question and you have a minute or less to answer. Are you ready, Alix?

alix:

I am so ready.

Stephanie:

Alright. First, we’ll start with the hard one, what one thing will have the biggest impact on ecommerce in the next year?

alix:

What one thing was the biggest impact on ecommerce? I think the biggest thing that will have an impact on ecommerce is the social climate.

Stephanie:

Tell me a bit more.

alix:

I think it really depends on what happens with COVID and civil unrest and all those types of things, because that’s what really starts to clog up people’s feeds. They’re seeing a lot of that. So, that’s where we see tax increase dramatically is when there’s a lot going on in the world around [inaudible 00:44:21].

Stephanie:

Got it. Makes sense. That’s a good one. What’s next on your reading list?

alix:

My reading list?

Stephanie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

alix:

Never Split the Difference, which is a negotiation book from I believe it’s a CIA interrogator.

Stephanie:

Yeah, we just had someone else recommend that. I think it was just a couple of episodes ago.

alix:

Oh, really?

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s popular book. Definitely check it out now. What’s up next on your Netflix queue?

alix:

Oh, I mean, obviously, The Crown, definitely watching that. The Queen’s Gambit was amazing too.

Stephanie:

Yes, I’m watching The Queen’s Gambit right now. It’s so good.

alix:

It’s amazing.

Stephanie:

I have to check out The Crown. I haven’t seen that one yet though. I always just take recommendations from our guests. That’s what guides my Netflix queue from all you guys, so.

alix:

Well, yeah, I would love any recommendations, because I feel like the whole world has just straight up run out of Netflix.

Stephanie:

I know. Yeah, we got to make more content. We need it.

alix:

Exactly, exactly. Give the people what they want, Netflix and Bev.

Stephanie:

What one thing do you not understand today that you wish you did?

alix:

Can it be about anything?

Stephanie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

alix:

I wish I had a better grasp on American history. I went to high school abroad. So, I actually missed my junior year when you’re supposed to take American history. I was taking history abroad. So, I actually don’t have a great background in that. I really wish I did, especially right now.

Stephanie:

Oh, that’s a good one. I always say history repeats itself. Yeah, it’s something I have to-

alix:

It does.

Stephanie:

… dive into deeper as well.

alix:

It does indeed. I wish I were better at reading biographies and historical books, but I’m not.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Well, hey, there’s so much going on right now, but that’s a good thing to lean into. The last one, what piece of tech is making you most efficient right now?

alix:

Superhuman with email.

Stephanie:

Oh, do you like it?

alix:

Yeah, I love it. It’s definitely helped with my efficiency dramatically. Yeah, I wish I could say Asana. My team uses it very well. I’m a little bit of the slow adopter, but Superhuman has been really awesome.

Stephanie:

Cool. I have to check that out. Yeah, I’ve heard so much about it. Maybe something you can check out next. All right, Alix. It’s been awesome having you come on the show. Where can people find out more about you and Bev?

alix:

Absolutely. So, you can check us out at drinkbev.com and follow us on Instagram, @drinkbev. Subscribe to our newsletters.

Stephanie:

Awesome. It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for joining us.

alix:

Thanks so much.

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Episode 59