PODCAST: How The Goods Mart is Revolutionizing Brand Growth with Rachel Krupa

Amanda Ashley
Post by Amanda Ashley
May 7, 2024
PODCAST: How The Goods Mart is Revolutionizing Brand Growth with Rachel Krupa
Success in the CPG industry is a heterogeneous concept. It can vary depending on the brand and requires patience, targeted growth strategies, and a willingness to iterate based on real consumer feedback.

In this episode, hosts Allan Peretz and Darcy Ramler are joined by Rachel Krupa, Founder of Krupa Consulting and The Goods Mart, to explore how to define, achieve, and sustain success for emerging good-for-you CPG brands. Rachel shares her insightful perspective on the power of the launch process at a smaller scale and how The Goods Mart is aiding these brands in building community and paving the way for long-term success.

Join us as we delve into:
  • The myriad challenges facing brands, such as pricing, storytelling, obtaining genuine feedback, and the need for capital when transitioning to larger retailers.
  • Why emerging brands should prioritize owning their regional market and fostering a community before expanding too rapidly.
  • The significance of meticulously selecting effective funding strategies and partnerships, and their potential long-term impacts.
  • How brands like Olipop, Partake Foods, and Perfect Bar have successfully navigated growth challenges and introduced innovative products. 

Find us on Spotify, Apple, and anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or click the player below to hear this episode now!


Listen to "How The Goods Mart is Revolutionizing Brand Growth in Retail with Rachel Krupa" on Spreaker.



Rachel: I do think that it's a beautiful time right now to understand that success is not the same for everyone. And if you talk to certain investors, too, it's like you have to be closer to profitability, but then you focus on profitability, but then you lose, like, the growth, because you're focused on being profitable, and then they want you to be growth focused but also profitable. And then you have a team of.

Rachel: Three that you're just like.

Rachel: All of the ideas that people have for you as a brand, I think you have to just sit with as a founder and actually, what makes you feel the best.

Announcer: You're listening to CPG launch leaders, the show where we interview new product trailblazers. Get ready for inspiration and secrets from the front lines of CPG innovation. Now, here are our hosts, Darcy Rambler and Alan Peretz.

Allan: Welcome to CPG launch leaders. I'm Alan Peretz, and I'm here with my co host, Darcy Ramler. Today we're chatting with Rachel Krupa, an expert in the CPG space and the founder of Krupa Consulting. And the good smart. Rachel's unique perspective on brand development, product launch and scaling in retail is reshaping how emerging brands approach their growth.

Darcy: Rachel, we're beyond excited to have you on, to hear your stories of supporting brands as they navigate the complexities of launching and growing in this competitive retail landscape. Before we dive in, we like to start each episode with one particular question. Currently, what new product has caught your attention in the market?

Rachel: That's always hard. Um, the one product that I am loving right now, um, is pocket chocolates. They're black sesame in robed almonds. It is amazing in everyone that I rip open a bag and put it in their hand and they eat, they normally buy two or three bags and they come back.

Allan: So, as we mentioned in the intro, you're the founder of Krupa Consulting and the good, smart. Both ventures are focused on the better for you space. Can you share a little bit about your history and how it brought you?

Rachel: Yeah, of course. Um, it's been a fun one. So, background initially went to school and have started my career in PR. So I have 22 years of PR experience building brands, um, such as. And we've been fortunate over the years at group of consulting, um, to work with brands that have a purpose and passion to do more than exist, but to really help to elevate one's health, improve the food system, have consciousness about our mother earth, um, and we've launched Tastemade, thrive market, goop in their wellness, vertical, our place, the pans, and also worked with a lot of CPG early on. Thought leaders, and continue to do it within the space of Brownie Brittle. In 2012 was my first client and the first venture into CPG. And then that was like Barnana and talking about upcycled, um, bananas in 20, I think, 14. And people were like, what does this mean? Um, and so what we really do at Krupa Consulting is really help to figure out complex conversations or new innovations or new ingredients and help educate consumers and elevate them to grow to be household names. Um, it was through that experience, through the PR lens, that I saw there was a better view component to everything in the marketplace. But within gas stations and convenience stores back in 2016, it feels like eons.

Rachel: Ago, but that was like Cliff and.

Rachel: Kind bars, and that was just like early stage in crave jerky. That was your better for you and everything in grocery stores. And this was like the kind of like the building of Whole Foods, but it was just like, everything else is not better for you because you had to shop in this organic section. What does that mean for everything else? If that's like, the natural organic section, what's 80% of the store? Um, and so for me, it was.

Rachel: Really looking at finding, um, a convenience.

Rachel: Store that could shop your values, but also shop the young emerging brands that were coming up and filling Expo Westin, you know, really doing it right. And so that's a little bit more about that background of how Krupa consulting is 22 years of PR experience. And, you know, Krupa consulting now is 14 years old, which is wild. And then the goods, um, opened it in 2018. And so it's wild that it's our fifth or 6th year anniversary on April 17, which is actually tomorrow, which I just didn't put to connect the dots to.

Allan: So, Rachel, tell us a bit more about the good smart.

Rachel: Yeah. So the Goodsmart is a, uh, better for you, socially conscious convenience store. Uh, our goal is really to help emerging brands. We may be their first or one of their first ten stores that they're going and dabbling into retail, and we really want to be a true partner with them and help elevate them. Our goal is really to evoke discovery, um, by having a highly curated, um, shop that you can find the coolest things, but you're also going to discover things that you never knew existed. And then we really look at it as we're traditional retail model, where we buy wholesale, there is no slotting fee. You don't pay us to be in our store, um, because it is highly curated. And then on the other side of that, we have a really cool, um, curation business and vertical that we're doing hotel mini bars and corporate pantries. And, uh, really for us is discovery and, uh, being a launch pad for these emerging brands.

Rachel: And the goal is really you're going.

Rachel: To be on our shelves. Maybe it's going to be a year, two years, five years, whatever that is. But then you're going to graduate and hopefully you're going to be in whole foods and sprouts in Myers publix, everything along those lines. But like, we really want to be that place that you can ask those questions. Like a lot of founders are scared to ask traditional buyers because they don't sound like they know what they're doing or, you know, those questions that ask us because everyone has them and make it a safe space to help, literally brands grow so that they're not making mistakes that could be detrimental to their growth later on.

Allan: I imagine m they get a lot of great data from that experience too.

Rachel: Yeah, we're working on that on our side too. Being a small company as well, it's just figuring out what do you share? What do you not share? But that's for us, it's like you come to our store, use it as like your home and your haven too, to collect whatever you need.

Darcy: And it is one of those things where you're going against the fake it till you make it philosophy of things, being able to provide to these brands. And I think what you said is, I've worked in the startup business my whole life and it really is. There's an education that goes along to learning and having a safe space to be able to learn can really allow a, uh, brand to thrive. I know you mentioned Expo West. I was actually just there about a month ago. Now time flies. But it's interesting because one of the things we talked about working with brands is love a brand that's a good for you, brand better for you. Um, but some of that is becoming a little bit of table stakes. And what I mean from that is, like you said back in the day when it was starting, 80% was this other category. Now we talk about if people want to say we're gluten free, we're vegan friendly, we're talking about sustainability, how do you now in a market where obviously there's such a shift and that is becoming more of a requirement rather than a benefit, how do you sort through kind of finding the brands that you guys really still resonate with your mission?

Rachel: Yeah, it's asking the questions. It's where do you source from? Where are your ingredients coming from? Tell us more about the formula and why you created it. Because it's easier to launch a CPG brand in regards of just like, having someone formulate for you, it's a command. It's just like yours and it's a pretty package. But for us, it's like we want to know the foundational story. Why are you creating this? Where's your ingredients? Not just more of like, hey, my coman is getting me the mixture of what it is and I don't really know, um, and then also just, you know, what are you doing and why are you doing this? I, um, think is like a really great question to ask anyone because it could be because this was, ah, an ingredient that I grew up with that I didn't see growing into this marketplace. Um, I was more from a celiac perspective. And I noticed, like, even with gluten free items, that I still had a reaction to it. Or here's this, or here's that. And I think asking supply chain is incredible. I think that understanding why someone's doing it more than just, it's a category that's right for disruption. And I feel like I can sell it in two to three years. You're like, okay, great for you, but that's necessarily not ours. And we really lean in more to, from a standpoint of, like, better for you because we don't like to focus so much on health, because everyone has.

Rachel: So many different health, um, not requirements.

Rachel: But health like styles that they eat, um, and we want to make sure.

Rachel: That we are, you know, adapting to.

Rachel: The person that is eating a regular bag of lay's potato chips. But you can come into our store and find something that you can just be like, this is really tasty and great and just better for you. Ingredients in regards of just less processed in regards of, like, the unnecessary red dyes, blue dyes, artificial colors. But then you also have people that are green juice lovers that are like, hey, I don't do any refined sugar. I don't do this or that. You're going to find something within our store that you're going to meet everyone on that better for you journey.

Darcy: Absolutely. There's so much to a story and a founder's mission that really becomes the heartbeat of a company. We've had the pleasure of having many founders on our podcast, but one that always resonates with me is Gayle from Kali Power. And really how she started. I mean, she came from big business, but then had a mission within our household of someone of, hey, I need more gluten free celiac options. I'm spending all this time cooking in a kitchen, looking at recipes. There has to be an easier way to solve this. And near and dear to the heart, you know? And that drove her mission to build quite a phenomenal company. So I love that you're, you know, like you said, if you're able to really speak to the root, to the recipe, to why, the why behind everything, that mission comes to life. So from your experience, obviously, I would love to hear a little bit more on what are the most common challenges brands face when. When you are launching a new product?

Rachel: Yeah, I mean, I think there are similarities, but there's also just so many, like, complex, like, reasons why or questions people have. I think a lot of it's figuring out, you know, you have your wholesale cost or the cost it may cost you to make it, but what is that markup? You know, what should that be? You know, I think pricing is always a challenging question. Um, I think a lot of them have a hard time talking about their story and their reason why. And we always like to look at founders and really leaning into them, like, hey, I noticed I talked to you. We ask questions of onboarding, of, like, tell us about your foundational story. Who are the founders? But yet, when you go on your website, there's nothing. And that's, like, really what will pull on someone's heartstrings if someone wants to dive in a little bit more on you. Um, I think that it is getting actual real feedback on taste, um, and that's something that we love to do. And there's a few brands that now are in our store, but we tried it four or five times, um, because we're like, you have too much monk fruit. You have too much stevia here. Like, can you trim it back a little bit? If you added more salt, it will do so much better.

Rachel: Um, by giving them sometimes the feedback.

Rachel: That I think most people are just scared to give, um, but really working on that formula, and I think a lot of them are sometimes even fundraising. Right now, there's a lot of questions around fundraising, and what we like to do is even connecting founders with each other so that they can ask those questions of, hey, I did this, or, I did this, what's the best way? Or, I spoke to this investor, did you have this type of thing? Or where were you in this level? And I think that there's a lot.

Rachel: Of similarities with pricing, investment, um, co.

Rachel: Manufacturing, I think, is also hard because a lot of the brands that come into our store, um, are made in a commissary kitchen first.

Rachel: Before then, they're at a command level.

Rachel: And it's like, who's the right person? What do you do?

Rachel: What volume?

Rachel: Here's this, here's that. Um, are like the questions that they ask.

Darcy: Well, there's such a beauty to being able to launch on a small scale, right. What you're providing is really that qualitative and quantitative feedback to say, okay, we have something great here. It just needs to be refined and optimized a little bit. And that can be sometimes from a messaging standpoint, it can be from a taste standpoint, but being able to not have to try to do that during a national launch or big stakes are on the table. When you are against the clock and there's a bit of desperation behind that, it's hard to make logical decisions when you've put all your eggs in one basket. To provide, really, this platform for brands to have that opportunity to refine that before going national, it's quite a gift.

Rachel: That's, uh, the beauty ness of it. You know, it's. We were one of the first, like, retailers, you know, back in the day to have Alipop and Sanzo and a lot of, like, those brands that are now, you know, the name, same brands, like, in the category that are doing incredible things. But it's even like, how do you talk about it? What is this message? What is this flavor? Um, and again, it's a sense of discovery. And I think during the pandemic, um, a lot of people were looking at.

Rachel: Food as a way to get away.

Rachel: And a way to try and experience things together. And I think it's, like, what really connects us?

Rachel: And that's something I don't think it's going to go away.

Darcy: And some of those brands were defining a category. The category didn't even exist. That's that. Talk about the lollipops. You talk about certain categories. It's about completely starting a brand new category that now they're, you know, they're a disruptor. And competition is just trying to trail.

Rachel: Well, look at how much the innovation, even within confection. Like, I love, like, right now, like, gummies. Like, there's so many, like, new age gummies that are coming out. Real sugar, less sugar, monk fruit stevia flavored with, you know, real fruit. But remember the old school ones, I'm blanking on the brand that it was like, almost like wax. It tasted like wax. But now it's like, this is better than a, you know, a traditional jelly belly bean or a regular gummy bear. Like, the explosion of fruit is so much better. But it took six years of innovation and just, like, continuing to refine that process. Now, I think, you know, smart sweets did it well from like a low sugar, but now from smart sweets of what it was initially when it launched with, like, the amount of fiber and like, the stevia aftertaste, your monk fruit.

Rachel: Aftertaste to now you can't even taste some of it.

Allan: So, Rachel, you mentioned, um, the importance of online, of creating that connection to the founder story and the purpose of the brand. Tell us about, uh, packaging in store. Like, how does that come to life in store? How should it come to life in store?

Rachel: Yeah, um, I mean, packaging is really what jumps, um, a product off the shelf for customers. But I will also say it's not the first thing that we look at from our retail side because we know it's going to change. Um, but we like to be able to give feedback so that when they do make that update in that change, because you're like, you know, you're going to come into the first round of the store, like, you know, you're going to update it. So, like, I actually had a call with a new beverage that, um, is launching. They're like, I was told I should.

Rachel: Be more, you know, aligned with, like.

Rachel: Mainstream, you know, you know, that it's like, a brand launches and they say it's cool. It's like matte white, it's like black, and it's like, has nothing to do with, like, the flavor. That brand, at some point in Whole Foods is gonna have a grape on it or a cherry on it because.

Rachel: Like, that's what it's going to be.

Rachel: Because that's what you need in order to get that mass appeal, but in order to get it off the shelves and build a brand, to me, sometimes.

Rachel: It'S just like, uh, be a little.

Rachel: Bit more experiential with, like, your packaging and brand because that's what's going to make the early adopters want to buy you, and then you're gonna change that. Um, and so I do think that you can be a little bit more forward with your packaging at this early stage to build your name brand amongst the early adopters that are gonna stick with you and be with this journey along with you. Uh, but I also think that there's sometimes within our store, there are only 500 sqft so our team members in the store are kind of like that guides that ask questions of what are you looking for? Sweet, savory. Do you like lump fruit? Do you like regular sugar? Do you want x, Y and z? Gluten free, plant based and helps to guide people into different products. Um, because sometimes I think that when you have a young brand that doesn't have the resources of capital, that they can't have the slick packaging, but the product inside is extremely tasty, but you have to still get people to purchase it. It's more of being like, hey, try this. And that's what also what we love is just like, hey, they love it. The packaging doesn't like, resonate that well. And I think there's a lot of things that packaging is number one. But if you have someone to help taste and try from like a sampling perspective, I think that's like the biggest thing a young brand can really look at.

Rachel: Packaging is 100% but active.

Rachel: Ah, sampling in the store to get.

Rachel: Feedback about a packaging is, I think.

Rachel: One of the most valuable things that.

Rachel: Anyone can do your philosophy around.

Darcy: I want to dive into owning your region. Um, is something that is unique and something you recommend. Before going too fast for growth. Can you elaborate a little bit more on this strategy, its benefits to the emerging brands that you work with?

Rachel: Yeah, I think it's going deep instead of wide right away, you know? And I think it's like you go.

Rachel: Deep in a community, you young emerging.

Rachel: Brands, again, they don't have the capital that larger brands have. So if you go too wide, you're getting surface level. Um, so I think going local, building a community, building like your army of loyal consumers and customers that are gonna stick by you, they're gonna tell their friends to purchase you. Then you're able to see that market fit. You're going to be able to see what are the things that you need to do to change in order to get a mass appeal. Because, like, again, your first packaging is not going to be right. The case is not going to be what it's going to be like come, um, five years. But if you have, again, that loyal customer base before you go too wide, if you do have a hiccup or mistake, then you're easy. You can easily fix it without making it be a catastrophic error to your.

Rachel: Business or being like a, you know.

Rachel: A million dollar, $2 million mistake, but a smaller mistake to, like, update within your next run. Um, and I do think that you can figure out market fit within your local community and then expand from that because your loyal followers are going to give you feedback, because then they're invested in your growth. And how much do we always know? We're like, oh, my gosh, remember when we first had, like, pirates booty? Or when you first had Amy's boom.

Rachel: Chicka pop of being like, I was.

Rachel: Here, this is where it is. And now I'm seeing it everywhere. And you remember those moments, but then you're invested of, like, I remember it when it was this packaging, or I remember when it was here. And you don't get that if you go, I think sometimes too wide, too big, because you don't have the resources to do active, uh, sampling in, like, your yoga studio. You don't have the ability to really understand, like, the nuances of what makes your brand tick, but what makes your customers want to buy your brand and.

Rachel: Then lean hard into it.

Allan: Rachel, when a brand is moving, um, and expanding beyond the good smart and going to a whole foods or to other retailers, what are the key lessons that they really need to know, uh, when they make that jump?

Announcer: Hi, Jesse. What brings you to the airport, Mike?

AD: Jesse: I'm off to the headquarters to share an update on the big launch.

Announcer: Oh, I've heard it's selling really well. Care to share your secret?

AD: Jesse: Well, just between us, it's all thanks to bold labs. Their exclusive digital test. Market research allows, um, you to optimize your product marketing and pricing before the big launch.

Announcer: That sounds fantastic. How can I learn more?

AD: Jesse: Just visit www.boldlabs.com. It's all right there.

Darcy: This is the final call for flight 723 to Chicago.

Announcer: Looks like we'd better go. Thanks for the tip, Jesse.

AD: Jesse: See you soon, Mike. And remember, bold labs is ready to help your product soar.

Rachel: I mean, I think it's, you just.

Rachel: Need some capital because it's going to cost you money. Um, I think that, again, the more sampling that you can do, the better, um, because when you go to a larger store, you're in the mix with.

Rachel: A lot of brands.

Rachel: What makes your product stand out more than packaging? Because I think when you go into a larger retailer, just question for both of you, how do you shop? Do you go in, you go to a, to b? Or how much are you discovering in a larger grocery store? Most people like, I need to get x, y, and z off my list. I want to be in and out as fast as possible.

Rachel: Your discovery is not where you're going to find new things. It's grocery shopping.

Rachel: And so I think that being on.

Rachel: One of your aisles pay that sampling.

Rachel: You have to sample, um, you have to get people to go in there. You have to, um, really look at, like, how do you drive sales? There's a couple of really cool platforms now, M mammoth, which is like helping, um, CPG brands understand what digitally is connecting them in retail and what's driving retail from, like, digital ads, because that's always hard too. But I do think that it's like.

Rachel: You'Re going to need money.

Rachel: Sample as much as possible. Um, go in to the store and also understand that, like touch and play.

Rachel: And make it, you know, make it look beautiful, because you can, um, and.

Rachel: Do as much as you can with the retailer, even at that scale. Like, the more helpful you can be, the more successful you're going to be.

Darcy: As brands, you know, as they're looking to navigate and they're getting ready, you know, as you said, they're starting to. It may be starting with one retailer, it may be multiple retailers that they're launching. How crucial do you find it for a brand to adapt its growth vision, um, to what's right for it, rather than this one size fits all with all brands?

Rachel: Well, I think that's where I could talk for days on that because, like, I think when you look at, it's this effect where everyone compares themselves to a ten year old brand.

Rachel: You know, it was like, if you.

Rachel: Look at, not say from a CPG early on, it was like everyone wanted to be like the sweet green, the glossier. They're comparing themselves to milk bar. They've been doing this for ten years now. It's like Beverly Beverage. It's like, I want to be an ollipop or poppy. You're like, they've been doing it for six, seven years. You're doing this for a year. You're doing this for maybe two years. You have so much learning and so much to navigate in order to have that growth that they've had, because they just have time, they've had the ability to make mistakes, they've had the ability to talk to more people. Yes, it might be easier because they were the category leader and, like, the education side was much greater.

Rachel: Um, but everyone should have their own strategy.

Rachel: But also the biggest thing is, like, what does success look like for you? This cookie cutter approach of, like, successes.

Rachel: Being in x amount of doors is.

Rachel: Great for some, but like, having, like, a really great, successful business in one.

Rachel: Or two regions, that might be great for others.

Rachel: Um, and so I do think that it's a beautiful time right now to understand that success is not the same for everyone. And if you talk to certain investors too, it's like you have to be closer to profitability, but then you focus on profitability, but then you lose, like, the growth because you're focused on being profitable, and then they want you to be growth focused but also profitable. And then you have a team of.

Rachel: Three that you're just like.

Rachel: All of the ideas that people have for you as a brand, I think you have to just sit with as a founder and actually, what makes you feel the best? When I opened the goods, it was how many stores are you going to have? And as a competitive person, you're like, how many do I need to have to be successful? Versus I would be happy, and I'm happy with our two stores and what we're building out on the hospitality side.

Rachel: But then the first six months, I had two leases signed, and I was.

Rachel: Just like, how do I do that? How do I grow this? I don't know what I'm doing because I'm the first, you know, an entrepreneur of having a retail business versus a service business.

Rachel: Completely different.

Rachel: Um, then I spent a lot of capital and a lot of time and energy doing something that didn't fulfill me. Um, but I think that's like, a lot of brands and founders now.

Rachel: It's like, take that time and, like.

Rachel: It'S not about how much money you raise, because it's so hard to raise money right now.

Rachel: Um, or, you know, what does it.

Rachel: Look like from, like, a growth perspective and what makes you happy and feel fulfilled and not compare yourself to a 20 or a ten year old company?

Rachel: That's just crazy. You're not even walking yet and you're.

Rachel: Like wannabe running and riding a bicycle.

Rachel: And, like, flying in the air.

Darcy: Well, and I think to your point is, I'm assuming a lot of these brands don't even know how long a poppy has been around because there is this optics that get presented in the marketplace is all of a sudden it's a trend. And we've turned our focus of, oh, have we heard about the poppies? Have we heard about the lollipops? Have we heard about glossier? You don't know. It's been, you know, they've been doing what you've been trying to do right now. You've been doing it for a year. They were doing it nine years before they had that moment. So, you know, the aha moments don't always come.

Rachel: You know, it makes it look like.

Darcy: It'S overnight, but it's definitely, there's so much love and labor and testing and learning that all of those companies did.

Rachel: Sure.

Darcy: Is there a handful of overnight successes, but again, those are the rarities. Those are not, you know, your average brand that's entering the marketplace 100%.

Rachel: And I think that's like the thing.

Rachel: Before Poppy, it was mothers and it was a, uh, regional brand in Texas, you know, and people forget that. It was just like Poppy is always everywhere.

Rachel: It took time and capital.

Allan: So you've talked a lot about product discovery at retail and how important that is. And it's something that you facilitate in your own stores. As we think about retail at scale, what's going to fill that discovery gap going forward? Um, because it really doesn't seem to be a good way to deliver that at scale.

Rachel: I think it's hard. I think you're seeing whole Foods is making smaller stores. Um, but we also have to remember when Whole Foods first launched, what was the section that we all loved, that local area section that it was like, oh, we could find and discover all these incredible local brands that were there.

Rachel: And that's gone, um, now.

Rachel: And I think people still miss that. So I think that they're, from a retail perspective, I think people are trying to figure out that discovery, but they're also trying to figure out financials and margins, and grocery is a small margin, high volume business. Um, and every piece of, um, section.

Rachel: Within a store is real estate that.

Rachel: You try to make the most profit that you can. But I do think that there is like, people are now looking and testing with different end caps with discovery. And once these products are, um, a favorite amongst the new discoveries, then they're put on shelf. But you have to find that discovery. And I think there's a lot of fun people doing interesting things with end caps. There is different sampling and pop ups and things along those lines, but I think there can still be more. I think that it's hard when you have a larger store to discover, um, but I do think that the end caps are doing a good job, but I think there can be more in that. Or I don't know, it's hard because I don't know so much of like the larger retail model because I've have stores that are 500 sqft or less. And so it's, uh, so different.

Rachel: Um, but I do think that being.

Rachel: Able to see it as a consumer.

Rachel: As a shopper, um, um, it's finding.

Rachel: That discovery and I think, you know, erewhon does it great because like, that's the whole store. Um, but you always are finding and discovering something, but people go there to discover. But you shop on the outside. I don't know how many people are.

Rachel: Shopping on the inside of the store.

Darcy: It's interesting, I, this conversation came up recently of just as inflation is happening and pricing is obviously a big topic of conversation, especially in grocery is there is a shift that's happening where you used to be shopping local or your farmer's market or even your local bodegas or smaller stores. There was this huge gap in price discrepancy between, okay, that was a barrier to shoppers. It's getting closer and closer and consumers are starting to notice that between your normal, whether it be your kroger's of the worlds, your vons, I'm out on the west coast. So your vons, um, um, Safeways is. I think there is becoming a more, that alternative is becoming more reachable, reachable for all consumers as well, which will be interesting to see, you know, how, how really your national grocery chains react to that.

Rachel: Yeah, I think that's like, it's, you know, inflation is real and I think it's like a lot of it is with the distribution as well. Um, and I think before it was, we do not use larger distributors because the cost of using them is wild.

Rachel: And it doesn't make it so that.

Rachel: Our margins are great. Um, and so we just challenge back a little bit more and like try to do the most we can from direct and other like smaller distributors locally.

Rachel: Um, but I do think that it's fun.

Rachel: But I also think that like the larger grocery stores within, not New York.

Rachel: Or LA, serve a larger purpose because.

Rachel: That'S where a lot of people are shopping. And I think that we talk a lot from coastal side of just living in working New York, LA, larger cities. But when you get into like middle of America, that gas station or that IGA or that Kroger is where you're gonna find things because you don't have the elevation of a lot of the others. You have small m coffee shops that have incredible curation too. But you're going because you need that, your fresh products, you need like more of like your pantry staples. And in that, I think it's gonna stay, you know, within like the middle side. And I think it's also beautiful when you look at like what can the role of gas station play? Because a lot of people get their groceries from gas stations. And I think that we overlook actual gas stations and like the need and like the purpose that they serve for like the cities and the small towns.

Rachel: Across the world.

Darcy: Absolutely. So as you see many brands evolve over the years and have been a part of that evolution, can you maybe share a story of a brand that has successfully navigated the transition from a small emerging brand to really a household name?

Rachel: Oh, I mean, I think that you look at it from Alipop. I think Alipop now has like really built up the category of a better for you soda. Um, but they're still on the earlier side. I think if you still go into again, the middle of America, they're not going to have as much of like a staple, ah, as they do on the coastal cities. Um, so I think it's hard, I think you look at a lot of mass brands and it's hard for me to say pinpoint one because you also have a lot of like the better for you categories that are coming out from like the general mills of the world and like Kellogg's that are hitting more of the middle of America, that the younger brands are not yet infestrated. Um, but I think Ollipop has been great. I think partake, um, has done an incredible job with building their name. Um, Tony's is continuing to grow and I think have a really great, um, sector that they're carving out. Um, perfect bar because remember in perfect bar was launching six, seven years ago and now they have a lot of like the category in that fresh bar across like a lot of like conventional groceries as well as club stores. Um, and I think for I'm in like the emerging brands so much that I'm seeing all the youngest, like newest.

Rachel: That I sometimes forget about the larger.

Rachel: Ones that have moved, you know, that are doing incredible. Like you even look at La Cologne and like the cans, like, remember like when they launched their cans for the first time, it was one of the first, like coffees in a can and.

Rachel: Now you have like Chobani, um, you.

Rachel: Know, acquire them and like with the launch of their new can, like latte that's like really cool. And so those are like the fun innovations that I think that you love.

Rachel: To see or Clif bar growing and being, you know, another incredible brand that.

Rachel: Used to eat a cliff bar every.

Rachel: Day and then it was like kind bar.

Rachel: Remember the old school kind bar, cliff.

Rachel: Bar competition, which is always fascinating, but you always have those throughout the years.

Darcy: As a mom of two, um, my kids are twelve and nine, so we do a lot of sports and a lot of snack bags on the weekends. And I always love you talk about innovation and seeing what a, the kids gravitate towards, b, what parents, you know, all parents are trying to navigate the better for you. Healthy snack, but also something kids will eat and just doesn't go to waste. I always just, it's interesting, you know, there's a lot of plays on what we would have considered. I'm considering us, Rachel, probably around the same age, lunchables, you know, and the play of what's the better for you kind of put together snack. Um, my daughter this weekend came home and I was like, this is amazing. And she was eating a chomp stick and I was like, that was like our slim Jim back in the day. But they've done a recreation of a better for you. She was wild about it. And it's just interesting to see what also, you know, as a mom, what my children are gravitating towards, what are the better for you? Options that, that can deliver still in taste because obviously taste is going to lead to adoption in that, in that space of things. But I love to see what comes out of those bags and really see what's new and inventive and, you know, okay, now we have soda that has a, uh, you know, probiotic in it. And now we have this and it's, you know, it's interesting to see what the children vote on.

Rachel: Oh, I love it. I have, um, nieces and nephew, 1615 and eight. And we do taste tests all the time. Like, which gummy do you like now? And can you tell me why or which chocolate bar is like gigantic bar because it's a little bit less sugar. Um, my nieces are obsessed with it. They're like, it tastes like a chocolate bar, but it's not like super sweet because I don't want the super sweet side of it. Um, and the gummies, it's just like, they're always like, hands down, they're like, we want the real sugar. They can tell like the monk fruit or stevia and like the other side. Um, and then have you tried local weather with your kids? It's like the new hydration sports drink. Um, and that's what we also love is just like, how do you get the kids? Because they're going to give you real honest feedback. Like that's like our, we love testing with kids. My dad, who is from the midwest who was like the Dorito eater and I'm like, do you like this? Does it taste too healthy? And if he's like, it's just too healthy for me. And you're like, okay, great. Like, but this one is this and like, uh, what is it?

Rachel: Um, good.

Rachel: Sam chocolate covered peanuts.

Rachel: He's like, this is better than m and m now to him.

Darcy: Yeah, it is. Kids, definitely. Kids are your most honest consumer that you can pull without a doubt. They're not afraid.

Rachel: Yeah.

Allan: So, Rachel, we talked a bit about fundraising before, and obviously that's a big, stressful process for companies of any kind. Um, what advice do you have for founders on what the right timing is to go for funding for the first time?

Rachel: Again, everyone has their own journey. Um, but I do think it's, um, how much can you, how far can you go without raising money? And especially looking at, like, there's so many incredible platforms these days, whether it's like new market, um, you know, crowdfunding, because if you can, you build something locally, people want to support you and have you grow. So it's like looking at those other avenues from, like, a fundraising perspective versus going traditional venture, because getting venture from an early stage is really hard. It's those angels. Um, there's a lot of angel groups now that are coming up. So I think it's understand, what do you need capital for? How do you try to be, it's like those, like chicken and the egg try to be as much like, try to be profitable, but also, like, look at capital as growth. Um, and so find those ways that.

Rachel: Other alternatives, I think, because, like, capital.

Rachel: Adventure is hard these days unless you have a larger scale. Um, so find the people that really want to support you, but then will also add value. Um, we're in the process of doing a small fundraise right now, and I'm a different believer where I would rather take a lot of smaller checks from humans that can help and connect me with the people that I need help with. And that's great for me. Where others are like, don't take small checks, take larger checks. But the impact of having, for me is smaller checks also mean I have a lot of value and I have a lot of an incredible army of influence that are going to help build something. And for me, building something and getting.

Rachel: A community around something to build is very special.

Rachel: Um, and it allows you to flex more muscles and be more creative. But again, everyone has their own fundraising journey. But, like, know why you need money. Know whomever is giving you money is going to give you their feedback, and you really have to listen to it.

Rachel: So do you want to be, you know, not all money is good money.

Rachel: So understand where that money is coming from and what does that mean? And, uh, who's going to be on that cap table and someone you're going to have to talk to all the.

Rachel: Time because they're, they have a piece.

Rachel: Of your business now, and so you have to make sure that you're doing right by them.

Darcy: Big checks can come with a lot of stipulations and a lot of rules and caveats, as you said. So sometimes it is better to understand really who you're partnering with, right. It's a partnership. At the end of the day, they're investing in you and you want to make sure they're a partner on the other side of the fence that you align with. So the concept of success varies widely among brands. How do you help brands define and achieve their own version of success? I think as we talked about, everybody's focused on becoming sometimes that household name or chasing being the unicorn of the category. So how do you help them see what success looks like? Sometimes. What does it look like in a year from now versus five years from now?

Rachel: Um, I like to take an individual approach to everyone, um, because I love hearing what a brand story is. So when someone gets into the goods, we send them a welcome pack of, like, here's all the things that how we can helpful and would love to find time for a 30 minutes, 45 minutes zoom because I actually want to understand a little bit more and how we can actually be helpful. Um, and then from there, I think it's helping to be like, okay, where do you want to go? How do you want to be? How can we be helpful to you? And then just more of like, kindly, like, steering the wheel a little bit of like, this is great, but like, that could be coming after this should come after x, Y and z. These are like a couple building blocks that I think that we can be helpful with before you get here. Or here's a strategy that we can pull these strings to get here to then get us to this point. Um, so I think it is a lot of listening, but then also having a realistic outlook of, like, if you want to get here within the next year, you're going to have to do X, Y and Z. But if you do these steps or we make these introductions, or you're in this place for a discovery of here, here's a tangential way to get there that might be a little bit more friendly on your wallet or, you know, more, um, pleasurable for you. Um, but also, why are you in this and how do we be helpful for that growth or what introductions can we do again, like, I love listening to people and listening to their stories and, like, how they want to grow and then being helpful along that path.

Rachel: But also giving, um, real feedback and.

Rachel: Real love sometimes of, um, like, that's great, but it's going to take a little bit longer. Or here's like what we're hearing, um, behind the scenes with other products and brands of like, what their fundraising journey is looking like or how long it took them to close around or they're still working on and it's been a year and a half or two years and they haven't closed. Or here's what they're saying about being in a larger retailer. Do you want to talk to them and kind of get that experience or you were acquired or you're taking this investor? Get some real feedback first. Again, as you said, investors are partners. How is that partnership with them? So I think a lot of for.

Rachel: Us is not pushing, but also listening.

Rachel: And then helping, guiding.

Darcy: When you're chasing a dream or a vision, it's always hard to be grounded in reality or the needs or the asks of how to get there. So to have someone, I think an outside perspective to be able to guide within that is, you know, there's no value that you can put on that for brands. Well, Rachel, I want to say thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us and share, really about your path in innovation and growth. It's been a fascinating conversation about uncovering the keys to standing out, scaling smart and defining success in your own terms. We really appreciate your time today and thank you very much.

Rachel: Thank you so much. Thank you.

Allan: Yeah, thank you. Rachel.

Announcer: You've been listening to CPG launch leaders, a show from bold strategies Incorporated. Don't miss the next thrilling launch story. Follow the podcast podcasts on your podcast player now. Please give us a rating, leave a comment and share episodes with your friends. Until next time.

Rachel: Our channel m.

Amanda Ashley
Post by Amanda Ashley
May 7, 2024
Marketing Director for BOLD