Retailers need and want brands to step up and become category leaders. Today’s story is proof these advanced strategies work giving both brands and retailers a competitive advantage helping brands get their products into the hands of more shoppers.

Welcome. I want to remind you that there’s a free downloadable guide for you at the end of most every episode of my podcast. I always try to include one easy to download quick to digest strategy that you can instantly adapt and make your own. One that you can use to grow sustainable sales and compete more effectively. Remember, the goal here is to get your product onto more retailer shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. I appreciate you for listening. If you like the podcast, please subscribe, share with friends and leave a review on iTunes. 

Today’s story is about a brand who’s figured out how to do exactly what I’ve been talking about on most of these episodes. How to become a value-added resource to the retailers. Now, I certainly wish I could take credit for it. But I can’t. They’ve done this on their own. And you can too. Here’s how this works. If you become more than just a package on a retailer shelf, if you become more than just another brand with a handout saying, “Put me on your shelf. I need promotions. I need, I need, I need, I need,” from the retailer, then that’s going to differentiate you. If you can help the retailer drive sustainable sales in their category, if you can help the retailer drive more foot traffic and their store, then the retailer is going to bend over backwards to help you increase your sales. Help you introduce your product to new consumers.

This podcast, all the courses, the articles, the talks, all my content, this is what this is about, helping you help the retailer drive sales by leveraging that unique strength of your brand. Remember, everything is negotiable. Retailers generically don’t make anything, they sell other people’s stuff in the form of the real estate that your product occupies on their shelf. What they need from you are insights, actionable insights that go well beyond the canned top line report. We rise by helping each other. If you can help the retailer get what they want at a reasonable profit and more traffic in their store, then they’re going to help you get what you want. Increased sales, more consumers trying your brand, and the ability to own your own destiny.

So, what do I mean by that? Retail is expensive, everyone’s got their hand out asking for more and more from you. More money for this promotion, more money for slotting, et cetera. If you can own your own destiny by leveraging your strengths, your ability to drive sales within a retail store in lieu for some of the fees that really don’t contribute to the ROI of your brand, that’s how you build sustainable sales. That’s how you build a long profitable runway for your brand to succeed tomorrow, and well beyond. Here’s Adam, with Ripple Foods.

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BRAND SECRETS AND STRATEGIES

PODCAST #85

Hello and thank you for joining us today. This is the Brand Secrets and Strategies Podcast #85

Welcome to the Brand Secrets and Strategies podcast where the focus is on empowering brands and raising the bar.

I’m your host Dan Lohman. This weekly show is dedicated to getting your brand on the shelf and keeping it there.

Get ready to learn actionable insights and strategic solutions to grow your brand and save you valuable time and money.

LETS ROLL UP OUR SLEEVES AND GET STARTED!

Dan: Welcome. Before I begin, I want to remind you that there's a free downloadable guide for you at the end of most every episode of my podcast. I always try to include one easy to download quick to digest strategy that you can instantly adapt and make your own. One that you can use to grow sustainable sales and compete more effectively. Remember, the goal here is to get your product onto more retailer shelves and into the hands of more shoppers. I appreciate you for listening. If you like the podcast, please subscribe, share with friends and leave a review on iTunes.

Today's story is about a brand who's figured out how to do exactly what I've been talking about on most of these episodes. How to become a value-added resource to the retailers. Now, I certainly wish I could take credit for it. But I can't. They've done this on their own. And you can too. Here's how this works. If you become more than just a package on a retailer shelf, if you become more than just another brand with a handout saying, "Put me on your shelf. I need promotions. I need, I need, I need, I need," from the retailer, then that's going to differentiate you. If you can help the retailer drive sustainable sales in their category, if you can help the retailer drive more foot traffic and their store, then the retailer is going to bend over backwards to help you increase your sales. Help you introduce your product to new consumers.

This podcast, all the courses, the articles, the talks, all my content, this is what this is about, helping you help the retailer drive sales by leveraging that unique strength of your brand. Remember, everything is negotiable. Retailers generically don't make anything, they sell other people's stuff in the form of the real estate that your product occupies on their shelf. What they need from you are insights, actionable insights that go well beyond the canned top line report. We rise by helping each other. If you can help the retailer get what they want at a reasonable profit and more traffic in their store, then they're going to help you get what you want. Increased sales, more consumers trying your brand, and the ability to own your own destiny.

So, what do I mean by that? Retail is expensive, everyone's got their hand out asking for more and more from you. More money for this promotion, more money for slotting, et cetera. If you can own your own destiny by leveraging your strengths, your ability to drive sales within a retail store in lieu for some of the fees that really don't contribute to the ROI of your brand, that's how you build sustainable sales. That's how you build a long profitable runway for your brand to succeed tomorrow, and well beyond. Here's Adam, with Ripple Foods.

Hi, Adam, thank you for joining me today. Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and your journey to Ripple beginning with getting a degree in chemical engineering?

Adam: Yes. Well, thanks for having me today. Yeah, my educational background is in chemical engineering. I've got a degree from Stanford in that. I focused on environmental science and started my career actually working in the science field for the Carnegie Institution for Science, doing climate change work. Primarily building and running computer models that would predict what would happen as we put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and predict what would happen to various ecosystem services. That work in sort of around about way let me to start my first business, which was Method Products green cleaning company, and then eventually also to Ripple Foods, which I am now helping run.

Dan: I really appreciate your sharing that. That actually answers a lot of questions. We were talking a little bit, we'll get into this more, your website is amazing. And the fact that you've got that climate stuff and there is ... I appreciate the fact that you're really leading the charge on that. So, let's back up a little bit. As a climate scientist, what did you learn and what was that transformational moment that said, "Hey, I'm going to go out and build a cleaning products company"?

Adam: Yeah, it seems like sort of a weird transition from climate scientist cleaning products entrepreneur. But what I started to get frustrated with in my work as a climate scientist was that it wasn't actually producing the change that I wanted to see. The science was very clear at that time, and this was 20 years ago, more than 20 years ago. And it wasn't leading to the policy change that it was supposed to. And unfortunately, it still doesn't. So, what I started thinking and what I'm interested in is how do we start to change society in a way that is moving towards a more sustainable situation?

I thought that working on the science and showing the science as I graduated from college, I thought that'd be a good way to do it. It unfortunately is not leading to the change that I wanted to see. And so I thought, well, what if we use business as a way to reach everyday consumers with a product that's a lot more sustainable? And, maybe that is a way that we can start to change consumer psychology. And when I started looking around, and it just trying to be what we now call a green consumer, but that wasn't even a term when I was doing it 20 years ago, every product that I bought was not a good product. It didn't perform well or didn't taste very good, or is too expensive. It was definitely in brown packaging. There was no delight or pleasure to it.

And so, teamed up with a buddy of mine and we started thinking about, well, what's the most toxic and an ugly consumer category there is, and we landed on cleaning products. And we started the business in our apartment and grew the business from there.

Dan: Great story. In fact, I love that. I actually used to work for Unilever, so I know the category exceptionally well. And to your point, there was a transformational moment for me where I said, "Even though I loved the company, I loved the experience I was getting, to your point, I really wasn't making that difference. So, the fact that you were able to connect the dots and say that, "If I'm going to affect change, I need to start doing that with consumers wallets. Because if consumers got on board with all this stuff, we wouldn't have the bad chemicals and all the problems."

Let me back up a little bit. Developing a product to go into a category that is so hyper competitive as cleaning products. First of all, that's pretty risky. So, to have the courage to do that. And then secondly, to produce a product that meets the needs or identifies that niche that you're trying to fill, being able to solve a real true problem in terms of help consumers understand why those products are bad, and here's a better solution for that. How did you go from an idea to actually building the brand, getting the product on retail shelves? You've had tremendous success with method. So, I really want to celebrate that. But how did you learn? How did you go through that process? How did you get to the point where you were in all the Target stores and other retailer stores as well?

Adam: Well, I would say we earned our way over time. It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination. There's a reason that people always talk about how hard it is to get onto grocery store shelves. It is hard, and it's also really expensive. You have to pay money to get to that, to get that space. For us, it was really about building one small success story into a larger success story. The first shelf space we got was by literally going into grocery stores at six o'clock in the morning and cornering store managers and pitching them on the method concept.

And of course, we got kicked out of a lot of grocery stores early in the morning around the Bay Area of Northern California. But eventually, we got one store and we started to sell through and people really liked the product, and so they repeat purchased on it. We built that store into three stores and and ultimately to 10, into 20 in the Bay Area. And then eventually, we started taking those successes and going a little bit more to other regions and building a 70-store chain. You keep doing that, and eventually you have a lot of stores.

Dan: Great. I love the fact that it's organic. By the way, my background, I've always been a huge, strong, passionate supporter of natural organic. And so, when I was a grocery manager, looking for brands like you, that's what I enjoyed doing. Being able to feature them, getting them one of the shelf. This was before Unilever. And so, the fact that having someone like you walk into my store back when I was doing that, I loved it. Because I loved the passion, the enthusiasm, and I love the fact that you are making a difference. And so, you're able to find a retailer that gave you that first chance. What did your product line look like at that point? Certainly, didn't have every skew that you had at the end. So, what did you start with?

Adam: No, we had four.

Dan: Had four, okay.

Adam: Yeah, we had four. It was a line of surface cleaners. So, we had a bathroom cleaner and a kitchen cleaner, and we had a daily shower cleaner and then we had an all purpose. And that was the lineup before to begin with.

Dan: And then how did you transition or build into that, your other line extensions? Where did you find the opportunity to innovate? Because I'm most familiar with your hand soaps.

Adam: Yeah. The vision was always for Method to be a master brand across your entire cleaning regimen at home. And so, the promise of the method brand is something that extends from hand wash to laundry to surface cleaning to dish, all the way across. And really, what fueled a lot of the success of the brand we were the brand that brought the cleaning products out from under the sink and put it out on the countertop. Both because it's beautiful and because it was non-toxic and environmentally friendly enough that you weren't putting a dangerous chemical out on your countertop.

For us, that was always the vision. We had to earn our way into that. Just like we had to earn more distribution, you have to have success with your initial product line so that you can talk to your customers and they have a desire for you to compete in other sub segments or categories. And so, it was very much the same way that we built distribution. It was demonstrate success, demonstrate that you've got philosophy and that you're playing a strategic and important financial role for your customers. And customers in our sense here are retailers, grocery stores.

When you do that, then they're looking for you to help them with their objectives in some of those other categories. Let's keep in mind that these are high frequency categories, these are things that you know drive people to stores. A frequency category is laundry detergent, toilet paper, things like that, milk. When you are driving that frequency trip, it's very valuable to a customer, and to be able to do that that reverses a little bit the commoditization of these products to sort of a downward spiral of profitability that generally occurs in this category than you play an important role for your customers. And that's how you earn your keep.

Dan: Love that. I really appreciate you saying all that. Let me unpack that a little bit. First of all, getting it from under the cabinet onto the countertop. Love the way that you put that out there because that's so important. Because to your point, a lot of these chemicals are really dangerous. And being able to clean up a food prep area with a product that doesn't leave some sort of toxic chemicals on it, that's really really important, and that's where other trends are going today.

Obviously, the bigger companies are starting to slowly get it. High frequency category. Like I said, I know this category exceptionally well. What's unique about it is that this is the opportunity for retailers, brick and mortar retailers to keep consumers in their stores, and not encourage them or invite them to go shop online. And it's important to them because this is one of the big traffic drivers to be able to leverage that consumer. Because once that consumers in their store, then they can buy other products. So, how did you help the retailer develop your story around how to help the retailer really understand how to drive that consumer, keep the consumer coming back into their stores?

Adam: Well it's really about attracting the right type of consumer to begin with. I'll use Ripple Foods, my current business as an example. Ripple foods has the youngest average age of any brand in the plant-based beverage segment.

Dan: Really?

Adam: We also have the highest household size. We have a healthy household income, it's essentially an emerging income, young people that are doing pretty well. And so those are high value consumers to retailers. They also, as you sort of alluded to, are exactly the consumers that they're losing to Amazon. Being able to bring those consumers into the store is valuable for a couple of reasons. It's not just valuable because they buy Ripple products or Method products, it's valuable because generally what occurs is once you get a person in a store, their basket size is somewhat fixed, as is the margin of their basket for the retailer.

In other words, if you go to a Target store in order to buy Ripple, it's very unlikely that you're only going to buy Ripple and walk out a target. You're going to buy other stuff that you need while you're there. And so, the value of the Ripple brand or method did very much the same thing was that we brought valuable consumers into our retailers, and then they bought across the store and discovered more about what that retailer had to offer relative to other shopping experiences that they obviously had access to. And so, that's us playing a strategic role in addition to just pure financial profit role for our customers.

That's something that's really important for a whole bunch of reasons. Number one, both Method and Ripple are still, even Method, still relatively small brands in the grand scheme of things. They don't have full awareness, they don't have full household penetration. And so, being able to provide that role is something that adds value on top of just the pure rate of sale numbers that you have. And, it's helping those retailers evolve and attract what is the future of their business as well.

Dan: I really appreciate your saying that. I feel like this is a commercial for exactly what I've been talking about all these years, and this is why I rebranded in Brand Secrets and Strategies, and this is why I launched the podcast. This is exactly what I talked about all the time, my articles, courses, and everything else is how to take a brand like yours and turn it into a value-added resource for the retailers. So, you're talking about how you uncommoditized method, which is so important, because I always talk about the fact that mainstream retailers and mainstream social providers tend to monetize the natural consumer and the natural products.

And then to go one step further, you're speaking my language. I love the fact that you're so focused and you understand your market basket and the opportunity for your brands, especially Ripple, to really drive profitable sales in the store. No longer are you just another package on the shelf, you are contributing to the store and to the category far greater, far more than probably any other brands out there. I mentioned at him that I've done a lot of work in this category, and you're right. Your numbers are amazing in terms of how you skew to the higher income. I've seen this firsthand. Hats off to you.

So, it sounds like you're very, very focused on the numbers and understanding the dynamics of your shopper. What's unique about them? How do you communicate that to the retailer? And where I'm going with this is where you started with Method. You were a small brand, you were effectively an ATM machine in some cases to some retailers. But now, you're really a growth driver for other retailers and you should be leveraged with that retailer so that you don't have to pay so much in terms of slotting and all that other stuff. Preferably even avoiding it.

Adam: Yeah. Well, I guess the answer is it takes two to tango. Some retailers are better than others at taking a strategic view of their categories. And yeah, there are plenty of retailers out there where you're just an ATM machine for them. You need to understand which retailers are looking at you as an ATM versus as a strategic partner and a growth driver for where they want to go for business.

And then you build your partnerships sort of, and your distribution strategy-based off of that. At the end of the day, what this is really about is defining the competitive landscape in a way where you can win. If it's just about the lowest price and the highest rate of sale for a cheap product that nobody likes, we're not going to win that game. We don't have the scale and we don't have the size. And frankly, I don't have the desire. I have no wish to be in that business of providing products that stink for people that don't care at the lowest possible price.

I want to create the best quality products that have sustainability built into them, that help people essentially live better lives in one way or another. That means that you've got to do things in a way where consumers, first and foremost, appreciate the quality that you're bringing in those products. And that that appreciation translates to some sort of value for your retailer that they recognize and appreciate. That can be a financial value, it can be strategic value, and preferably, it's both.

And then at the end of the day, it also means that for us, and this is something that's true of both Method and Ripple Foods, we have the strongest retail partnerships when we're able to work across categories and also work at multiple levels of merchandisers. Both from category buyers to divisional VPs, for example, or directors that understand that hey, we're going to try to do this across multiple categories and that's going to be something that's going to have a one plus one equals three effect for both the strategic and financial value that we drive for you. And, by the way, it's not our plan to go put this in every retailer including the ones that look at us as an ATM, so that you know we can remain special to the partners that tangle with us, if you will.

Dan: Well, I appreciate your saying that and you're right. I always warn brands not to be able to chase it down to the bottom. And kind of where I'm going with this is that many, many years ago before Walmart came on the map, and I'm not trying to pick on Walmart, but they're so efficient at driving sales at shelf because they remove so many of the costs from putting a product on the shelf and delivering to the consumer. So, right or wrong, love them or hate them, whatever, they were able to pull a lot of cost out of the system which is a good thing. But, at the same time they're also trying to find the cheapest, the cheapest, the cheapest, repeatedly. And as a result, the retailers that got into that pricing game with Walmart lost.

Where I'm going with that to your point is that no one ever wins the fight to the bottom. So, you've got a product where you're bringing additional value to the consumer to the retailer, and you're helping that retailer understand why that's unique, why that's different, how they can grow sustainable category sales and how your consumer's more important. When you talk about how you are competing against or partnering across multiple categories, what does that look like? And then how does that conversation look when you're working with a retailer to say, "You're special, we're not going to try to go into every single retailer. We're going to focus on the retailers that provide the most value to our shoppers as well"?

Adam: Well, what it looks like when it's working right is we have business planning meetings where we're working with multiple buyers in multiple categories and the people that are managing those buyers. We're asking questions like, what are the objectives, broadly speaking, that that retailer has with these categories, and what is the role that Ripple Foods or Method can play in bringing those things about? And that's a very different approach than the way consumer products have traditionally been sold the retailer's, which is a very transactional way that they've been traditionally sold the retailer.

That means that sometimes we're not the solution in terms of what those retailers are trying to get after. But if we can provide that strategic value in addition to the financial value.

Dan: How true - It sounds like, I know that we're just meeting for the first time really, this sounds like exactly what I've been talking about all throughout my entire career. This is exactly what I write all my articles and what my free Turnkey Sales Story Strategies course is about, my podcasts and everything is about teaching brands like you, like Ripple, to become a value-added resource to the retailer. And the return for that, the benefit to that to the brand, your brand, is that all of a sudden, now you're not an ATM machine. Now you're involved in really helping that retailer compete more effectively, drive sales within their store, and how they can develop a loyal customer base instead of continually requiring and requiring customers.

Again, hats off to you guys. You guys are doing everything that I've been preaching about or celebrating for all these years, saying this is exactly what the model should look like. So, again, I want to point everyone in your direction and say, this is what you should be doing. This is why this matters. As you're developing these relationships with the retailers and you're working with them as strategic partners, how involved are you with them in trying to help them not only understand or not develop their categories, and I love the fact that you really highlighted that, how do they help you also develop your future products as well?

Adam: Yeah. Well, I think there's there are some parts of that that are a little bit the secret sauce. But what I can say is that when you have a deeper level of partnership with a retailer, it lowers the risk of some of the growth opportunities that you want to have, you want to create with your own business. Instead of putting a whole lot of effort and money and time into something that you don't really know whether it's right for the retailer or it's going to work, having that greater level of partnership, you get a lot of insight into those things. And you can sort of plan your businesses together in a way where you increase your chances of success with the growth opportunities that you do bring to the market.

Dan: I really appreciate that. In fact, one of the things that we talked about a lot on the podcast is that big brands innovate by changing a flavor or changing a packaging or something like that, usually really nothing in terms of true innovation. While small brands are working with or more closely aligned with their core consumers. So, they're providing the valuable products or the value-added products that their consumers are needing, wanting and asking for. And the fact that you've got a relationship with your retailer partners that they help you drive that innovation and spread that innovation around what they're looking for, you're right, that is a holy grail. And you're absolutely right, that is the secret sauce. This is how you win it shelf.

Spoiler alert for everyone listening. Some of the big brands don't pay slotting. Some of the big brands don't pay for all the ridiculous fees that some retailers charge. Some of the brands provide so much value that the retailers are really excited and anxious to work with you and be able to provide additional opportunities for you to promote, for you to merchandise, et cetera. As a category captain with Kimberly Clark, Unilever, et cetera, one of the things I was able to do is parlay that into additional opportunities. So, a sort of a payment now, pay me later type mentality. Instead of paying for all those upfront fees that some of the retailers charge, we were providing so much value in the back end that I was able to get incremental promotional opportunities, et cetera.

In fact, in episode 68 of the podcast, I share my David and Goliath story, which is the genesis of these strategies, which is exactly what you're talking about. If you understand what the retailer wants, and you know that the retailer wants to make a reasonable profit and they want more traffic in their store, and then you can help the retailer get what they want, then they're going to bend over backwards to help you get with what you want, as opposed to a lot of brands who just show up and say, "Here's what I need you to do for me." That's where you get the ATM idea. That's why they developed a thick skin and they don't start working with the retailers. The fact that you've been able to penetrate the retailers, again, hats off to you.

Ripple, the fact that you're able to get into such a competitive category and to carve out space on the shelf where you've got so many unique brands trying to enter into the space. How difficult, how challenging is that? And can you share a little bit, Adam, in terms of how the strategy that you're using helps you gain an incremental competitive advantage as opposed to the old way of doing things?

Adam: Well, the short answer is it starts with product, just like it did at Method. The irony of the plant-based milk spaces that currently dairy alternatives are really awful alternatives to dairy if you look at it, both nutritionally and from a taste and experience standpoint. Everybody knows that plant-based milks are sort of thin and watery and sometimes chalky. And 90% of the products in this category are almonds, coconut, cashew, and rice, which all have one or zero grams of protein per serving, when a glass of milk has eight grams of protein per serving. In other words, the category is missing the number one nutritional benefit of the thing it's replacing.

You combine that with the fact that now most of the people that buy this category are not lactose intolerant or don't have milk allergies, and what you realize is that what is really needed is product innovation, real innovation that brings great nutrition and great taste and creaminess the way dairy free products should be. And that's what we've done with Ripple Foods. The secret to that is actually a proprietary technology that we developed own, which allows us to get protein from plants that's totally flavorless. So, we can make a nondairy milk that's got the same protein as milk, and it doesn't taste planty, the way that soy milk or anything else would.

Dan: Love that. And back to your point, again, knowing this category really, really well, there's so many me too products out there. And this is one of the things that I struggle with and I've been talking about this a lot too, is that a lot of retailers think that while the strategy to build sales within the nondairy shelf stable beverage or refrigerated a nondairy beverage is to add more flavors of almond and more skews of almond or something like that, because that was the big driver. The reality is, that just simply confuses the consumer more, because you've provided so many additional choices that really don't add up to anything different and unique. So, you're able to go back in and formulate a product naturally that is plant-based that meets, and I would believe it even in some cases exceeds the profile of milk.

Adam: That's correct.

Dan: Again, hats off to you. The fact that you've got this, in terms of the product that you've developed in the strategy that you've got going forward, I'm impressed with the fact that you've been able to do so much in terms of carving out that space and really understanding that consumer. What is the future of Ripple? What other strategies do you have, or what other categories or areas do you plan to get into?

Adam: Yeah. Well, honestly, the strategy of our businesses is written on the front of every one of our bottles, which is our tagline. And our tagline is, dairy free as it should be. We think dairy alternative should be great alternatives to dairy. And it's sort of shocking that we've forgotten that food needs to be good and food needs to be nutritious. We've got a technology that allows us to do that from actually any plant source. Our milks right now are made from peas, but that's not what makes us unique. What makes us unique is this the purest plant protein on earth and ability to make really delicious, nutritious plant-based foods out of that.

What does that mean? That means delivering that experience of dairy free the way it should be to mainstream consumers. So, there are some parallels here with the Method strategy, which is what Method did is instead of like pulling the whole market towards a green cleaner, what we did is we just brought the clean green cleaner to a mainstream market through beautiful fragrance, beautiful design, great performance. We're doing the same thing with the nondairy milk. Most of the people buying the category now don't have to. They want to for environmental or health reasons, and that means they're going to be a lot less willing to sacrifice their protein and creamy delicious experience than somebody who's lactose intolerant and can't drink milk.

And so, that's for us the goal, which is we're going to mainstream the plant-based milk product, and then expand that across dairy free, the whole dairy free regimen. Anywhere where dairy is a part of your regimen. So, we already have a plant-based half and half product, and we recently launched the first Greek yogurt alternative that has the same protein as the dairy Greek yogurt. Our intention is to go across the whole dairy space with the Ripple brand with the brand promise. And this is important, is that the Ripple brand represents a little thing that you do every day that has a ripple effect on your health and around the world. That is a brand proposition that is relevant across the whole dairy arrangement. And if you think about it, and this is analogous to the competitive landscape in the cleaning world with Method, is all the brands are based around a problem solution. And pretty much all of them are based around an ingredient.

In fact, if you look at the brand names, the second largest in the category is Almond Breeze. So, when almonds go out of fashion, that's going to be a tough brand proposition. The largest is called Silk, which is a contraction of soy and milk. There's another brand called So Delicious, which used to be Soy Delicious, and they hacked off the Y when we started selling more almond milk than soy milk. And so, these are very much ingredient-based plays. And this category up to the date has been really about what's the next nut we're going to make milk out of? It's hazelnuts and Tiger nuts. It's all kind of ridiculous, because none of those are very good from an environmental standpoint, including the water standpoint and none of them have any protein or very little protein. Cashew milk for example, which is very popular now has no protein whatsoever. And so, you've got a category that's just misaligned with what consumers want, which is delicious food that's nutritious.

Dan: I’ve got to tell you, the ripple effect, I didn't know that that's how you named your brand. That's one of the questions I had for you down the road. I always talk about how we're talking about innovation. I focus on innovation, that ripple in the pond and how that ripple in the pond grows before it becomes a tsunami and ends up on a big retailer shelf. But always focusing on that. So, I love the fact that you're going back to that. It's kind of interesting how we're aligned along and so many of these ways.

Adam: Well, for me, that's very much like my personal business philosophy. I think some of the things that I'm most proud of that we were able to accomplish with Method products were when we had a ripple effect on the category and moved entire categories to more sustainable places. We did this for example, with concentrated laundry detergents. We were the first to make that really fly in the US, and that had a ripple effect where a large part of the laundry detergent category now is in meter doses and in concentrated formats that save a whole lot of plastic packaging and water.

Dan: Right. Well, and the fact that the future of CPG is small disrupter brands like you. One of the things that I did in the 2016 Category Management Handbook, (I’ll link to it on the show notes) where I was able to identify that it's these small brands. So, using organic and it's plant-based and gluten free, et cetera at the same time. But organic is what's driving sustainable sales across every category. If you remove that small sliver of organic, then most categories across mainstream CPG are flat or declining. Back to your ripple effect, the ability for you to drive sales within a category and how that category aligns with other categories, and how that consumer that buys ripple is also going to buy other products that are plant-based et cetera throughout the store. Therefore, they have the larger market basket. Again, this is, I believe, the future of of mainstream CPG.

One of the things I didn't talk about that I wanted to kind of dig into, and I really appreciate the fact that you're sharing the profile and what's unique about your product. I don't think a lot of consumers realize that cows were not designed to eat grain and hay. So, the milk that they produce is very different than the way the milk should be in a grass-fed cow. And so, when you're comparing apples to apples, that's a dramatic difference. And unfortunately, most consumers don't understand that. But what you've done is you've gone beyond the grass-fed and produced a product that meets the same profile as a grass-fed dairy cow would produce, but yet and a plant alternative, and again, the water.

Adam: Yeah, with it with a chance and the resource used from a water and carbon standpoint.

Dan: Please get into that a little bit more.

Adam: Essentially, what we're doing is disintermediating the cow. Rather than feeding a cow an enormous amount of stuff, whether it's grass, which is what they normally have evolved to eat, or whether it's corn, which they're force fed, essentially, what we're doing is just making milk directly from the plants and bypassing the cow. When you do that, you don't need to use nearly as many plants. And so, the carbon, the greenhouse gas impact of that is much less, about three quarters less in comparison with dairy. And the water footprint is way less. It takes over 1000 gallons of water to make just a gallon of dairy milk and we use a tiny fraction of that amount to make Ripple milk.

Dan: I really appreciate your sharing that, and that's such an important message to be able to get across to people. I have visions of a cow standing in the unemployment line because of you guys.

Adam: Yes. Cows on vacation.

Dan: Exactly.

Adam: It's also important to recognize relative to other nondairy milks, actually. You mentioned briefly before the water footprint of nuts, in particular almonds, almond milk is about 70% of the category, it takes over a gallon of water to grow one almond. A single almond. The water footprint of almond milk is horrible. And, 99% of the country's almonds are grown in the Central Valley of California where you have to move the water essentially from the Colorado River into the Central Valley, which has an enormous carbon footprint associated with it as well. So, we're improving not just upon the environmental footprint of dairy milk, but also we're very much doing so improving on the environmental footprint of nondairy milk as well.

Dan: So important for you to say that. Thank you. Because again, the consumers that are buying other products, the people that are going to be listening to this podcast are the people that are focused on these exact attributes. And one of the other things is you guys have droughts that are unbelievable. And so, I got to wonder, at what point does that really start negatively impacting the ability for farmers to grow almonds, et cetera? And certainly, I wish them the very best. But the fact that you're able to produce a product that requires less water, less natural resources, and I love the fact that you're also talking about reducing the carbon footprint, that speaks to the consumer that we are both so focused on.

And that goes to the other thing you were talking about earlier, how your consumer is better educated, how your consumer is financially able to be able to buy the products that they want. And this is where I'm going with this, Adam, is that consumers are happy to pay a premium, even a super premium to buy products that truly meet their needs. And if you are what you eat, then what you eat matters. Meaning that if you can put healthy, nutritious food into your body that's going to fuel you and sustain you longer, that at the end of the day, that's what's most important. These consumers that understand that not buying the cheapest product on the shelf where they're going to be hungry almost immediately, this is that unique consumer that you're really, really focusing on.

Can you tell me, how does Ripple work in terms of when you're baking with it, cooking with it and heating it, and some of those other things? Is there any change in the product at that point?

Adam: There isn't.

Dan: Great.

Adam: Ripple is a straight up substitute for milk in every way. The reason for that is that it has the same protein is milk. So, without going into a great level of detail, when you cook with milk or when you heat it up, or you do various things that you do in the kitchen with milk, generally, its behavior is proportional to how the proteins behave. And our product has protein in it and the same amount of protein is dairy milk, whereas most ... No. Well, pretty much all other products don't. And so, they don't behave in the same way. You pour almond milk in coffee for example, it's can curdle. Our product doesn't do that because it actually compositionally is a lot more like dairy milk.

And so, we've got that advantage. That's, that's how we were able to do, for example, half and half and point out that Ripple's half and half is not a coffee sweetener, per se. There's a big creamers category out there, Coffee-Mate, where it's basically sugary milk. That's not what this product is. It's half our milk and half our cream. And it behaves exactly like half and half. So, you can make savory soups, you can make tres leches cakes, you can make ... It works fantastic in coffee and it's a versatile ingredient, the way that dairy half and half is a versatile ingredient.

Dan: So, very important to point out. So, thank you for sharing that. I don't think a lot of people realize that to go one step further, a lot of these nondairy substitutes, a lot of these nondairy milks when you heat them up, they lose their flavor. They change, they become very very different and some of them don't smell very good either. So, that's a big part of being able to eat is the flavor profile. The smell, the scent, et cetera. In terms of your product, how do you stack up in terms of carbohydrates and other attributes that you'd find in the milk?

Adam: Yeah. Relative to other nondairy milks, we have slightly lower carbohydrates. And relative to the equivalent dairy milks, it's about half the carbohydrates. We'll take regular dairy milk for example. Regular dairy milk, the carbohydrate is lactose and there's 12 grams of it in a serving of dairy milk. We've got six grams of sucrose in this case, so not lactose. Most other nondairy milks are going to have about seven or eight. And then we, like other brands, have an unsweetened variety. We have both original unsweetened and a vanilla unsweetened. Those have no carbohydrates at all. So, zero sugar, zero carbohydrates.

And then we have some flavored varieties. We have a chocolate and we have a vanilla milk. Those are obviously more indulgent items, but they contain about 40% less sugar than their dairy equivalents. And in fact, those two items have just about the same amount of sugar. It's just regular dairy milk. So, we're able to use considerably less sugar and carbohydrates overall. The reason for that is what I'd talked about before. When we make repptein, the purest plant protein and on earth. That protein doesn't taste planty. And when it doesn't taste planty, you can make a delicious milk without having to use a bunch of sugar to cover up the all flavors.

Dan: That's is so important. I’ve got to admit, I'm hooked on your chocolate flavor.

Adam: Thanks.

Dan: Yeah. I figured a way I can mainline that. No, it's great stuff. And then I haven't tried your sweetened. I need to do that. I apologize. But your chocolate is absolutely amazing. The fact that you came up with a half and half, and again, love the way that your phraseology, how it's sugar milk, basically, not really flavored. Coffee-Mate and stuff like that, the way that there's so much sugar in it and that's how they get people to buy their product. Because they put so much sweetener in it, and yet there's so much talk about how sugar's the devil and people need to stay away from it.

So, the fact that you're able to develop a healthy product without artificial something in it to bribe kind of the consumer to take it, I love the fact that you've got that story and the fact that you've got so many other products that you're coming out with. One of the things I really wanted to celebrate you for, and again, you guys are just doing an amazing job, this is exactly how I would have built a company had I had the opportunity in terms of your strategies, et cetera. Your website. Your website is the gold standard in my mind in terms of what a brand's website should look like Adam.

Adam: Thank you.

Dan: Well, you guys deserve it. It's unbelievable. And so, I'm always talking about how consumers purchase things different today than they've ever done before. What I mean by that is they don't just walk into the shelf and by the blue box, the red box, et cetera. What they do is they get out the smartphone, and they do research. One of the things that they do is they research the product. They try to find out a little bit about it, they try to understand where the product comes from, the background story, the mission et cetera. And then also, how to consumers use the product? And so, the fact that you've been able to build a story that goes beyond the four corners your package, even though it's round, but beyond the four corners of your package on your website that does such an amazing phenomenal job of clearly communicating the water conversation we had earlier, the flavor profiles, how it's made, what the consumer looks like.

Again, unbelievable website and I highly recommend everyone check it out. We'll definitely put a link to it on the podcast web page and in the show notes. Can you talk a little bit about the design of your website and some of the things that we've shared? What are you most proud of? And then how did you come up with a strategy? Because this is absolutely not typical.

Adam: Well, I'm a big believer that you've got to give people access to information in layers that are aligned with, generally speaking, the funnel that they're going to want to go through and I'll describe what I mean. Of course, different consumers are going to want to access different information and you can only have one website. So, there is some level of that's the design challenge. But for me, what we want to put front and center is our philosophy and why we exist, right? That's dairy free as it should be. We exist to make dairy alternatives really delicious and really nutritious. And so, that's kind of the first message that we lead with. But then below that is a lot of the reasons why. That's where you get into selling not product, but a philosophy, right?

What we're trying to do is we're trying to share with people, this is our point of view on the world, and it's why we do what we do. That includes our environmental and social philosophy, it includes the fact that we're a certified B Corp and a benefit corporation. It includes the backgrounds of myself and my co-founder and sort of our personal reasons and our personal passions for starting this business. It includes a whole bunch of information around why our products and our company are better from an environmental and social standpoint.

Now, I think that the design challenge in what we try to do is we try to organize that information in a way where it's completely accessible and it's engaging. But you're not hitting people over the head with things that they may not necessarily want to know, right? So, there are a lot of people that are really interested in the fact that we use 86% less water than almond milk. But we don't lead with that. That is there, it's easy to find, and it's explained. And most importantly, every single claim on our website is referenced to primary research. So, we don't just make a claim. We've got a lifecycle assessment that you can download on our website. You can follow any claim that we make all the way through to primary research.

But what we've done there is make sure that people understand what we're all about first before we take them all the way to, and here are the benefits from an environmental, from a nutritional, from a social standpoint. What the net effect is that people are able to experience the brand in terms of why it exists, and what its philosophy is, focused first and foremost on what we make, which is a line of products that are better for you and better for the world. But with easy and and quick access to go any direction that you want to go if you want to drill down on nutrition, for example. Or if you want to drill down on who are the founders, or if you want to drill down on the water footprint of that versus what you're drinking now. That's all accessible in a way, and put in an architecture that makes it really easy to find.

Dan: That is so important, so thank you for sharing that. It's the old, other brands say, "Look at me, look at me, look at me. I've got a cool product and we've got some great T-shirts with some great slogans," or something like that. And that's relevant, but it's really not going to help drive sales. And I got to tell you, I love this picture, the image I'm looking at. Fitting in as for sardines.

And this is sort of the reoccurring theme about what we've been talking about how you're unique and different. If I could frame it this way, every brand out there uses what I would call the old-fashioned push strategy. Where you get out your wallet and you just pay for shelf space, you pay for promotions, you pay to get in front of customers You in my mind have put together what I would identify as the pull strategy. Exactly what I've been talking about, exactly what I celebrate, while you provide a product that is so enticing, that is so appealing, that retailers and consumers have really no choice but to want to become a part of it. You have a lot of fun with it, you create a need, you fill opportunities and the need segments in terms of trying to really help consumers understand how does your product differentiate, but without banging them over the head about it.

And so, the pull strategy is ultimately where every brand should be. Again, the way you communicate this, your phraseology, you've got to be committed. I talked to a lot of brands obviously over the many years I've been doing this, big brands and small brands. But the way you communicate this, not only on the website, which I would assume there'd be some scripting, but the way you just talk and just put the information out there. I love the way that there's a story built into it.

Adam: Well, thanks.

Dan: Well, you really need to be celebrated for it, because it truly is amazing. This is exactly the reason I do this. Because brands like you who have figured out how to ...Basically, you're validating everything I've been talking about and taking it to the next level. So, I really appreciate that. This is so important.

Adam: Great. Glad it could be helpful.

Dan: It is. And the message and what we're going to be able to share with this conversation I think is just tremendous. Again, hats off to you guys. I think you've done a phenomenal job.

Adam: Thank you.

Dan: Do you have any questions? Again, I'm so impressed with what you guys do, and I've been watching you guys for quite a while. Like I said, my research in the category, first of all, it's amazing that you know this much about your category and about your consumer. Most brands, most people that I talked to don't have that level of insight. Again, really impressed that you have that. That really says a lot about you, your brand, your commitment to excellence.

Do you have a question for me? Is there a bottleneck or something that I could help you solve, something that you're working on that perhaps you want to put me on the spot and see if I can help you in some way?

Adam: Well, I'm not sure that I have a question. But you just brought up a picture and a statement we have on our website about fitting in is for sardines. I know the picture that you're referring to, which is a kid kind of doing his own thing. Just a comment there, which is one of the things we're trying to do with the Ripple brand is to celebrate the individual and to celebrate the good things that we do. I think that the food world is has way too many rules. If you think about food and the communication around food, we are constantly bombarded with you should eat this, or you should eat that. You should definitely not eat this, and that's bad for you. And then, oh, wait a second, you wait a year, and now everything's reverse. What used to be good for you, is now bad for you. It's exhausting and it's confusing.

We believe that most people live their life through sort of a system of debits and credits. We say, "Hey, we're going to eat healthy. But on the weekend and we're with our friends, we're going to indulge a little bit." And rather than making you feel guilty about the times when you indulge, we want to celebrate the great things that you do every day, and the ripple effect that those things have. For us, that's about ... The way the way we view ourselves and the way we view our brand are very much the same, which is it's a work in progress and we're trying to get a little bit better every day. And why don't we celebrate the good things that we do every day rather than play to the way that the category and sort of society seems to make us feel guilty and shame us for the things that we didn't do perfectly every day. I think it's just a more fun and a happier way to live.

Dan: Absolutely. Back to the pull strategy, and I love the fact that you guys are doing that. And the way that, again, your phraseology is fantastic, the way that you're able to communicate this. And you can see how your website is so well developed. The way that you communicate all of these different points, it's not the old fashion, "You need to buy us because we're a big company and because we make food and because we're better than-" That sort of strategy. Again, thank you for your contribution. Thank you for what you're doing for this industry and how you're really raising the bar. Is there anything else that you want to share?

Adam: No, I think we've covered it. I appreciate you having me on, and helping to tell the Ripple story.

Dan: My pleasure.

Adam: For us, it's all about getting people to just be aware of us and give us a try. Hopefully, all of you listeners out there are going to do that.

Dan: Well, and I'm certainly like I said, going to encourage everyone to go to your website to check it out. Because, again, what an amazing website. What a great way to tell a story, and as you said, not beat people over the head, but yet guide them to the answers to the questions that they've got. Again, thanks, Adam, for your time. I really appreciate it. I look forward to our next conversation.

Adam: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Dan: I want to thank Adam for coming on today and sharing his insights and his wisdom about Ripple Brands. This is exactly how I would have set up a brand. This is exactly how I mentor the brands I work with. Teaching them how to become more than just a box on the shelf, teaching them how to become a value-added partner at retail to help the retailer drive sales by leveraging your unique brand strengths. In the end, this is what's going to give you a sustainable competitive advantage. In the end, this is how you stand out on a crowded shelf, and how you become a category leader. I’ll put a link to Ripple on the podcasts webpage and in the show notes. You can get there by going to brandsecretsandstrategies.com/session85.

Remember, everything's negotiable. If you can help the retailer get what they want, then they're going to bend over backwards to help you drive sales, introduce your products to new consumers and help you grow. Having a symbiotic, a truly symbiotic partnership with your retail partners is so critically important. This episode highlighted this every step of the way. My free gift to you for this podcast episode is my free Turnkey Sales Story Strategies course. This course teaches you to do exactly what we've been talking about during this podcast and many others. And then how to build upon that success by layering in fact-based selling and all the insights that Adam and I talked about.

You can get there by going to turnkeysalesstorystrategies.com/growsales or you can find it in the show notes. To help you understand this and get even more from these valuable resources, I am launching a series of mini courses. A couple of them already available on the website. You can get there by going to the website, or go to brandsecretsandstrategies.com/courses. If you haven't checked out my website for a while, take a look. I've added a resources page that includes a calendar of all of industry events, tools that I personally trust and recommend, the tip of the week from all my newsletters, and all the downloadable free resources that I talked about at the end of every podcast. I'm constantly adding more to this page, so come back often.

I want to thank you for listening. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen to this podcast. Please share it, subscribe, and leave a review on iTunes. I'd really appreciate it. It helps me get this podcast in the hands of more brands. We rise by helping each other. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

Ripple Foods https://www.ripplefoods.com

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