all Insights

Pioneering the New Tea Culture in America featuring Sashee Chandran, Tea Drops

Gooder Podcast featuring Sashee Chandran

“Luck is hard work and opportunity meeting.” – Sashee Chandran 

This week on the Gooder Podcast, I had the pleasure of talking with Sashee Chandran, the founder, and CEO of Tea Drops. We discuss the historical colonial influence in American tea culture and how her diverse background has encouraged her to create something new: Tea Drops. We also learn about the tea category shaking innovation of Tea Drops’ products and some of the trends her brand is leveraging. Along the way, we get to hear the inspirational story of a diligent and humble entrepreneur who transforms the traditional way of enjoying tea. 

In this episode we learn: 

  • About the history and inspiration of Tea Drops. 
  • The surprising A-ha moment of her product idea. 
  • About her go-to-market alternate channel strategy, and why it worked.
  • Where Sashee’s passion and drive for risk-taking come from.
  • What Tea Drop’s give-back program has been doing to tackle the global water crisis.
  • Diana and Sashee’s personal stories about their love for tea and how tea has helped them connect to their loved ones. 
Gooder Podcast

Pioneering the New Tea Culture in America featuring Sashee Chandran, Tea Drops

About Sashee Chandran: 

Sashee Chandran is the founder and CEO of Tea Drops, which creates bagless whole leaf teas using a patented process — shedding about 15% less waste than traditional teabag packaging. Tea Drops has become a favorite among new and experienced tea drinkers alike, launching innovative tea experiences that merge flavorful blends, food art, and edgy design. Tea Drops an omnichannel brand, selling D2C and also available in 1,500 retailers — loved by Oprah Magazine, Chrissy Teigen, and former first lady Michelle Obama. Sashee is a 1st Place $20K Women Founders Network pitch winner, 1st Place $100K Tory Burch Fellow Grant winner, and the 1st place $50K PepsiCo WomanMade Challenge winner. She has also raised over $3.5M in VC funding for Tea Drops. 

Guests Social Media Links: 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sasheechandran/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sasheechandran/?hl=en 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sasheec 

Email: sashee@myteadrop.com 

Website: https://www.myteadrop.com/ 

Show Resources: 

Loose leaf tea is tea that does not come pre-packaged in tea bags. Because the leaves are not crammed into a tea bag, the tea maintains a higher quality and aroma while offering the best possible health benefits. 

eBay Inc. is an American multinational e-commerce corporation based in San Jose, California, that facilitates consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer sales through its website. eBay was founded by Pierre Omidyar in 1995, and became a notable success story of the dot-com bubble.  

Bubble tea is a tea-based drink that originated in Taiwan in the early 1980s. It most commonly consists of tea accompanied by chewy tapioca balls, but it can be made with other toppings as well. 

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification. 

Tory Burch Foundation competition Designed to provide women entrepreneurs with the tools and platform necessary to grow their business. 

8Greens is an effervescent dietary supplement tablet, packed with enough superfoods to give your healthy diet a green boost.  

United Natural Foods, Inc. is a Providence, R.I.-based natural and organic food company. It is the largest publicly traded wholesale distributor of health and specialty food in the United States and Canada. UNFI is Whole Foods Market’s main supplier, with their traffic making up over a third of its revenue in 2018. 

Nordstrom, Inc. is an American luxury department store chain. Founded in 1901 by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin, it originated as a shoe store and evolved into a full-line retailer with departments for clothing, footwear, handbags, jewelry, accessories, cosmetics, and fragrances.  

Neiman Marcus Group, Inc., originally Neiman-Marcus, is an American chain of luxury department stores owned by the Neiman Marcus Group, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. 

The Thirst Project is a non-profit organization whose aim is to bring safe drinking water to communities around the world where it is not immediately available. The Thirst Project collects money and builds wells all across the continent of Africa where villages do not have immediate drinking water.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
all Insights

For Wellness & Better-for-you Brands, Gen X Spends the Most

Generation X: What a boring title for a group that ushered in the use of cell phones, home video games, microwaves, and cable TV. Gen X is that “old generation” now, creeping up into their 50’s, and uncool (clearly) to the younger generations. And in many marketers’ eyes, Gen X is even less relevant. In fact, most marketers do not even target this age group any longer. Our youth-obsessed culture is overlooking one of the most obvious targets.

Well, I’m here to say, we’re going to change that right now.

I’ll be honest, when I first started researching this article, I was pretty darn sure I was going to be searching for days to find data that supported Generation X’s spending muscle. How surprised I was when data point after data point surfaced, disproving my hypothesis. In fact, most research I found states that (at least for now) Generation X has the greatest spending power of all other generations – generating 31 percent of all U.S. income with only 25 percent of the population.

Generation X is a group of big spending tech fiends who were taught to break the rules.

Picture this: my friend’s basement in 1981, MTV comes on the air, blows our minds seeing artists transform music over the airways, and creates a visually-obsessed culture that legitimizes cable television as a new marketing platform.

The 1980s helped shape Generation X into people who are comfortable pushing boundaries, quick at adapting to innovation, and willing to spend their money to get the goods. Yes, Generation X spends more than any other generation. Home-based video games, MTV, cable TV, and microwaves brought a new definition of easy family living and entertainment, as well as access to lifestyles many had never seen before. Keeping up with the Joneses went up a level. We had a whole world of things we could buy.

What defines Gen X?

  • Education: More educated than any generation – 35 percent have college degrees versus 19 percent of Millennials.
  • Technology: While not digital native, innovation and technology became keys to their life (think cell phones, email, and personal computers).
  • Cultural revolution: More women going back to work meant women had power and money. We saw families on TV with moms that worked high-paying jobs as the new normal. Claire Huxtable (The Cosby Show), Maggie Seaver (Growing Pains), and Angela Bower (Who’s the Boss) were different moms than we had seen before. Characters like an African American lawyer and a single mom advertising executive with a male nanny created a generation of people comfortable pushing boundaries and cultural norms.
  • Independence: An increase in single and working moms created a new, more independent youth.
  • Hope: As the first generation unrestricted by the cultural norms of the past, they believed they could have it all; and subsequently came crashing back to earth wondering about work-life balance and wellness.
  • Rebellion: Stuck between two large egocentric generations, Gen X revolted by creating grunge rock and popularizing dystopian novels like Shampoo Planet, by Douglas Copeland.
  • Materialism: A strong relationship with materialism meant Gen X was hit hardest by the Great Recession of 2008.
  • Career length: Despite the fact that Gen X currently holds a significant percentage of high-level jobs, the Great Recession, appetite for spending, and longer life expectancy means they need to remain in the work force longer to pay off mortgages, their children’s tuition, and save for retirement.
  • Age: America is a youth-obsessed culture and Gen X is no longer the youth.

What marketing trends does Gen X influence?

  • Better-for-you and wellness: While Millennials rank evenly with Generation X in their love of mission-driven brands, Gen X-ers spend significantly more on today’s do-gooder brands. Thus, making organic, ethically produced, and sustainable products a viable marketplace for everyone.
  • Email marketing: As the first group that opted out of print catalogues, email marketing became the norm.
  • Convenience: Online shopping’s confluence with social media: They are busier than heck – leading their companies, running kids around, and trying to stay healthy. Online shopping, social media, and on-demand services (such as streaming services like Netflix and meal-kit delivery systems like Blue Apron) are ever-popular with this generation.

How does all of this affect marketing to Gen X?

  • They are skeptical: They learned the hard way. These folks have been through two impeachments. They gave the world grunge music and modern marketing. They are today’s power brokers and executives. They don’t fool easy. They give trust to those who earn it. This is the generation who will research your brand in detail before committing to parting with their money. So, don’t try to win them over with glitz. Show them your true colors and they’ll respond. Gen X has a history of loyalty when it comes to authentic, transparent brands.
  • They are currently the parental generation: The youngest Gen X-er is just now entering into parenthood and the oldest have begun shipping their kids off to college. Almost every sale to a child is a sale to a Gen X-er too. If you’re targeting kids, you’re targeting their parents too.
  • They are premium focused: As professionals and parents with hard-earned money to burn, Gen X-ers put a premium on quality. They want to know that a brand is reliable, that a product is hardy, and that media is sophisticated.

Generation X is a true hybrid when it comes to marketing. As a brand owner, you are playing the long game. Simply put, ignoring this generation puts your bottom line at risk for the foreseeable future.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
all Insights

Naturals Brands: Show Consumers the Love!

When I was 7, my dad was driving our family of six kids through Idaho in a Winnebago. My dad took us to the campground souvenir shack and got us all an Idaho Spud candy bar. To this day, I remember the pine needles, the picnic tables, the smell of the campfire, and the bug bites — and most important, I remember the look on my little brother’s face as he snarfed that puppy down. To this day, Idaho Spud candy bars are etched in my memory as proof that my dad loves me.

Think back to when you were a kid and remember your favorite snack. Chances are, you also remember people, places, and events … because you’re remembering love.

Food is love.

And yet as food marketers, we emphasize the functional benefits of our products and miss the emotional connection that our products can trigger in our customers.

Our products are not basic sustenance; they stand at the top of Maslow’s pyramid where brands become part of people’s expression of their identity. Our products let people show love: to themselves in the form of self-care and self-satisfaction; to others in the form of nourishment and nurturing and indulgence.

So if our products represent love, then why do so many naturals brands get stuck in their marketing efforts and growth plans?

The Apex of the Brand Lifecycle

For starters, let’s review the typical brand lifecycle that we discuss in-depth in our book, Beloved & Dominant Brands:

Stage 1: First & Only

A visionary founder with a health or lifestyle need pioneers a new food or beverage product to meet that need. Others with the same need flock to the brand and the personality behind it, and a tribe begins to form.

Stage 2: Dominant by Default

While the product remains unique and the founder remains the charismatic spokesperson, the brand gains traction in the market. Its retail presence expands and it starts to gain national notice.

Stage 3: One of Many

Competitors, including store brands, hop onto the trail that the brand has blazed, following in its footsteps, copying its innovation, and parroting its communication. In a flooded market, the original brand loses out to cheaper competitors.

Stage 4: Beloved & Dominant

This is the sweet spot for a naturals brand, where it’s embraced by passionate fans who love not just the quality products, but also what the brand stands for in the world. Where consumers advocate for the brand using language that the brand itself has taught them. It’s competition- and future-proof.

Note the root of the word here: love.

Beloved & Dominant Brands make their fans feel loved, and they enable those folks to show their love to others.

For Naturals Brands, Love Beats Functionality

As marketers we consistently communicate that the food we are making has a functional benefit: being healthy, avoiding certain ingredients (allergens, gluten, etc.), or simply satisfying a craving. What we sometimes forget is that food is really an expression of who we are.

Features and benefits are part of the equation, absolutely. But in the long run, they do not equate to emotion.

Big, not-so-great-for-you brands know this all too well. “Oh I just love Oreos because they are made with partially hydrogenated oil to ensure a one-year shelf life” — said no one, ever!

No, we love Oreos because the brand has helped us ritualize love: every TV spot or social media message shows two people, together, unscrewing their Oreos and dipping the cookies in glasses of milk. It’s not about the product’s features; it’s about the act of unscrewing, dipping, treating, sharing.

There’s lots for us as natural brand marketers to learn here.

First, remember that food is a primal need. And because of that it’s loaded with power and messaging. Naturals brands, especially, can leverage that power to show consumers what they can become by embracing the brand. When we care for ourselves or others, it’s not transactional; it’s an expression of who we are: “This is the snack that I take on our hike; it makes me a good wife or mother or friend.”

Second, remember that food triggers memory and emotion. It’s embedded in the rituals of life and the stories of our families. Packaging, aroma, taste, and appearance all associate with something bigger. I’ll share a recent story of a friend: Her family drank sweet tea when she was growing up, and all of them have health challenges related to diet. So her mission has become to create a healthy sweet tea that tastes like what she drank as a child. That memory underpins her brand.

Third, understand that the emotional connection with your consumers, the love, has to come from your story. As a brand, you have the opportunity to influence the narrative that people tell about their memories of certain occasions or foods or flavors. Be mindful of how you want them to talk about you when you’re not in the room. Use story to give them sound bites to weave your story into their own story. That’s where the magic is: When they love the brand and it becomes part of their day to day lives.

Fourth, use your messaging to help people ritualize your product, like Oreo and the whole unscrew-and-dunk ritual. Big beer brands do this well, too, especially with advertising related to sporting events that show camaraderie and cheering and celebration. The more consistent your messaging is over time, the more it becomes institutionalized, creating layer upon layer upon layer of reinforcement for the brand.

Finally, don’t overly intellectualize your communication. Listen to your gut about what that messaging should be. Showing the love is more anthropology than data science; it’s about the heart, the voodoo, the magic. Features and benefits are easy and tangible talking points; story, passion, emotion, nostalgia, and memory are harder to communicate well.

You’ll grasp the holy grail when your brand becomes part of consumers’ food memories like Grandma’s chocolate chip cookie. That’s Beloved & Dominant status.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
all Insights

When and Where are the Most Powerful Times to Use Consumer Insights

Our experience with clients has shown us that when it comes to consumer data, there are two camps. Some organizations can’t make the simplest decision without tons of research to back it up; some disregard research entirely and go with gut instinct.

Of course, the reality is that Beloved & Dominant naturals brands make the best decisions with the right combination of data and “feels.” Research without analysis is just a bunch of statistics. And decisions without data are just guesses.

To use research properly—whether it’s a Usage & Attitude studytrend research, syndicated retail sales data (SPINS), or focus groups—you need to overlay the findings with your brand’s mission and vision. Analyze the data through your brand lens—that’s where you’ll find actionable, “decisionable” insight to guide everything from channel expansion to product development to messaging.

When to Lean into Consumer Data

One of the greatest decision-making vulnerabilities in our naturals category is our collective tendency to assume that our consumers are just like us. Especially in brands led by a creative founder who innovated a special product and grew a business around it, leadership believes that the brand’s tribe consists of like-minded and like-lived fans. Practically speaking, consumer insight can be a daily reality check against our biases.

Brands often don’t seek insight without a pain point. When one of these challenges starts to emerge or there’s a pattern, you should seek it out:

  • You’re not getting the velocity you predicted, want, or used to have.
  • You’re losing ground to competitors that are more trend aware and innovative.
  • Retail partners are less enthusiastic about your offering and are shelving your products less prominently.
  • Store brands are eroding your traction.
  • You’re seeking to widen your audience beyond the consumers you currently serve.

Major disruptions like the current pandemic are also ideal times to procure consumer insight. For example, The Hartman Group is publishing research on how Covid-19 is affecting grocery shopping habits.

What Data Can Tell You—and Can’t

Generally, we don’t conduct focus groups with our clients. There’s a time and place for them, but they’re not relevant for developing the big brand strategy that we work on. Focus groups and other primary consumer research yield a small sample size of opinions that can help you make tactical moves like line extension or packaging design messaging hierarchy:

  • the general look and feel (e.g., I like that photo, logotype, colorway)
  • I would tell my friends about this product
  • I may prefer vanilla vs. chocolate
  • the benefits claims would influence my decision to buy the product

Consumer feedback and syndicated data can’t offer wisdom about how people connect with your brand on a deeper level:

  • how your brand fits into their lives in a cultural context
  • how they behave when your product is one of many in a consideration set
  • where they would expect to see your brand
  • what is the best sequence for your innovation pipeline and channel strategy

When you’re developing a brand strategy, it’s essential to bring intuition and expertise to shopper research; often, that takes outside consultation. You can ask consumers all the questions you want, but they can’t do the critical thinking for you.

How to Manage Data

If you’re a data-driven organization, your opportunity is not to gather more, but to organize and rationalize what you have so it’s useful. Often, brand teams have so much information that they’re paralyzed. To better manage existing consumer research:

Get it organized. Take inventory of the consumer data you have, and in what format it exists. Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business and see if your IT team can build a dashboard that aggregates multiple reports.

Keep it current. As we like to say, data is like in-laws and fish—really good fresh, not so much after a week. Consumer research generally has a 12-month shelf life before it becomes outdated. If you’re relying on three-year-old data to make decisions, you’re immediately behind the curve.

Spread it around. Your sales team has data, your marketing team has data, your retail partners have data. Share it across the organization and take key decisions out of business silos.

Consumer Data Plus Brand Insight

Beloved & Dominant naturals brands combine information with insight to make the right decisions. It takes overlaying the brand mission and vision to create analysis in order to inform those “gut” decisions. Without the strategy, the understanding of the consumers, the point of view—you can’t prioritize options and make decisions.

Research alone is just a set of numbers; its power emerges when you gain clusters of nuance within the data that takes a strategist and marketing team to translate and respond to. Ignoring data would be foolish—but to know what to do with it, that’s the magic.

Think of those “hidden picture” games you had as a kid, where you’d have to lay a sheet of red acetate over the page to see the full image. Analysis—ideally from an outside advisor with tons of expertise and zero bias—is the red acetate that reveals your brand’s path. If you are ready for that external eye – or maybe just thinking about it – drop us a line and let’s talk.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
all Insights

COVID is Hitting Millennials Hard. Here’s How to Market to Them Now

Every demographic group has faced its own set of challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, from health concerns to economic hardship to personal stress. But experts suggest that millennials have been hit especially hard.

So what you think you know about this demographic group—and how to reach them—may have changed in this unprecedented time.

First, let’s do a quick review of the generational breakdowns:

  • Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980) are the children of the Baby Boomers; the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Gen X would peak in population in 2018 with 65.8 million people. The youngest Xers are 40 this year.
  • Millennials (born from 1981–1996) are now the largest adult population in the U.S. They range in age between 24 and 39.
  • Gen Z (born from 1997–2015) ranges in age from 6 to 23; as of 2019, there were 67 million Zers in the U.S.

The Paradox of Millennials

The millennial generation has been heralded by marketers for its spending power. This cohort’s collective annual income is estimated to exceed $4 trillion worldwide by 2030. But these 20- and 30-somethings have always been a tricky bunch to market to, because they’re a giant walking paradox.

  • They consider themselves to be tastemakers, but they’re extremely price-conscious.
  • They want the finer things, but they’re putting off major purchases like cars and homes (preferring instead to lease or rent).
  • They’re interested in health and wellness, and are heavy consumers of natural food and beverage products, yet they’re more concerned about the results of those products than the products themselves. In other words, they’re willing to accept artificial sweeteners in pursuit of a keto lifestyle.
  • They want brands to uphold values they share, but they’re not willing to sacrifice convenience and price.
  • Just 30% say they feel loyal to certain brands, but that loyalty tends to be longstanding and powerful. We describe their loyalty as a slow burn—they fall in love with brands gradually over time; in the meantime, they’re willing to “date around” and try out other brands and products.

Millennials are Getting ‘Walloped’ by the Pandemic

Financial analysts and demographers suggest that millennials are being “disproportionally walloped” by the COVID crisis and its fallout, particularly related to employment.

“With this current recession, millennials — especially younger millennials — were more likely to lose their job than were older generations. And since millennials are more likely to rent than older generations, the looming eviction crisis will be worse for millennials, too.”

— University of Alabama associate professor Peter Jones

“The oldest millennials lived through the 9/11 terrorist attacks and entered the labor market in the recession that hit around the same time. They spent their early years struggling to find work during a job recovery, only to be hit by the Great Recession and another recovery. And, of course, yet another recession.”

— “The Unluckiest Generation in U.S. History,” Washington Post

Furthermore, millennials (particularly women) are assuming responsibility for managing school at home for their children. And they’re more likely than other generations to be returning to their parents’ home to live during the pandemic.

Is Your Pre-COVID Understanding of Millennials Still Relevant?

The short answer is, probably not.

Certain influential aspects of their buying behavior remain: They’re the first digitally native generation, so they’ve always been comfortable browsing and buying online. That preference has solidified during the crisis. And their desire for curated, personalized products and experiences hasn’t changed.

The key to increasing (or maintaining) your brand’s relevance with millennials in the new normal is this: Don’t go back to business as usual. This is the time to understand some new truths.

Millennials want brands to be more human—but still highly curated and well designed. (There’s that paradox again.) In other words, they want brands to reflect their own reality: put together on the outside, but also honest, real, and authentic.

As they’re tightening their belts, millennials are becoming even more price sensitive, even as pre-COVID research indicated that they were cost-conscious to begin with. They’re more inclined to buy private label products than before. And they have become more likely to join a loyalty program or use coupons (a 30% jump compared to pre-COVID habits). Previously, millennials shunned those discount programs because they were something their parents did. Now is absolutely the time to review your pricing, promotion, and loyalty strategies to respond to these changing consumer needs.

And if we combine the previous two points—outward appearances and value consciousness—we get a third change in millennial shopping habits. They’re still willing to pay a premium for technology, fashion, and CPG items that they believe help them to look or feel better even in these trying times. And they are cutting corners where they can on the stuff that nobody really sees—like pouring low-shelf booze into the empty bottle of premium vodka or wearing a designer shirt with sweatpants for a Zoom meeting.

As COVID has driven shopping online, it has forced brands to get savvier about delivering a great online experience to consumers. Millennials always had high expectations, and now that we’ve all been exclusively buying online for the past 8 months, the bar has been raised.

Brands must figure out how to reach all consumers—and especially to overdeliver for millennials. COVID has added friction to everything they do in their lives, from fitness and fashion to friends and family. Millennial women in particular are bearing the brunt of managing education for younger kids and sacrificing their productivity or career or self-care in order to keep the family solvent. The key to wooing them and winning that valuable long-term loyalty is to reduce the friction. Make it easy for them to find, choose, and learn to love you.

Your brand can’t afford to overlook or miscommunicate with this cohort, because the efforts you make now have a long tail with millennials. Let’s talk about how you can connect with them.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
all Insights

Living Your Truth: Linda’s B-Corp Story featuring Linda Appel Lipsius, Teatulia Organic Teas

Gooder Podcast with Linda Appel Lipsius

Ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages is a category where consumers are continually demanding more from the brands they bring into their homes and lives — especially Gen Z. Features, benefits, and ingredients are table stakes, and as the natural products industry continues to become increasingly competitive, Brand has become more important. How a brand operates in relation to employees, environmental footprint, and business ethics that are paramount to this group.

Straight from the center of the naturals universe in Denver Colorado – join Linda Appel Lipsius (Co-Founder of Teatulia) and I as we cover everything people, planet, and profitability and how a B-Corp certification helps brands like Teatulia lean into their missions. Learn why Linda says “Gen Z will save the world.”

In this episode we learn:

  • Linda’s journey and aha moment creating the Teatulia brand.
  • What Gen Z and Millennials expect from brands and employers right now.
  • That investment in company culture and employees can have a higher than expected ROI than other typical “benefit” investments.
  • What a B-Corp is: It’s importance to and impact on business.
  • How the tips and tools that B-Corp provides can help brands become better business leaders.
  • About trends in beverage, functional ingredients, and innovation in powdered/crystalized beverages.
Gooder Podcast

Living Your Truth: Linda’s B-Corp Story featuring Linda Appel Lipsius, Teatulia Organic Teas

About Linda Appel Lipsius:

Linda Appel Lipsius is the Co-Founder of Teatulia Organic Teas. Since 2006, she’s been working with her partners in Bangladesh to bring premium, 100% Organic, direct-sourced teas & herbs to the United States. Teatulia produces innovative, delicious & award-winning hot teas, foodservice iced teas & canned RTD teas that are sold throughout the U.S in grocery, foodservice, and online. Lipsius has built a universally-respected brand known for doing things better. From the 3,000-acre regenerative tea garden itself to Teatulia’s stunningly sustainable packaging to the long list of awards Teatulia has received for quality and using business as a force for good. Named one of Food & Wine/ Fortune’s 20 Most Innovative Women in Food & Wine, one of Denver Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business, and a frequent public speaker, she is a leading voice on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to sustainable business practices to the food & beverage industry in general.

In 2012, Linda also started the mama ‘hood,a resource for new & expecting moms & their families, and opened Teatulia Tea & Coffee Bar next door to Teatulia’s Denver Headquarters. Previously, Linda was VP International with Orange Glo International (OGI) – makers of OxiClean, Kaboom, Orange Glo and Orange Clean – and Account Manager for Young & Rubicam. A Denver Native, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Columbia University in New York City and her MBA in Finance from New York University before moving to Washington, DC, London, Los Angeles then back to Denver.

She currently lives in downtown Denver with her filmmaker husband and her two children. In her spare time, Linda hangs with her kiddos, escapes to the mountains, devours movies & books, runs, cycles and practices yoga to keep her head & heart clear.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/linda-appel-lipsius/

Email: Linda@teatulia.com

Show Resources:

Teatulia – Organic hot and ready-to-drink (RTD) teas and beverages. Teatulia’s single-garden direct, sustainably grown teas hail from our very own tea garden in the Tetulia region of Northern Bangladesh. We created a new tea-growing region, nestled between Assam and Darjeeling at the base of the Himalayas, which has introduced the unique flavor profile of Bangladesh teas to the rest of the world.B-Corp – Certification for businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.Athleta – Clothing that integrates performance and technical features for active women and girls. A division of the GAP.Jeni’s Ice Cream – An artisan ice cream company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Jeni’s has over 40 branded ‘scoop shops’, and retail distributors nationally.Built from the ground up with superlative ingredients.Wisdom Supply Co – Environmental office and school supplies. “We curate + design products that prevent waste, for good. Waste is a design flaw.”Patagonia – An American clothing company that markets and sells outdoor clothing. The company was founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, and is based in Ventura, California.Kehe Distributors – With more than 5,500 employee-owners and a 16-distribution center network across North America, we’re one of the largest and most respected national fresh, natural & organic and specialty food distributors.Kroger – an American retail company founded by Bernard Kroger in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the United States’ largest supermarket by revenue, and the second-largest general retailer, operating nearly 2,800 stores.Costco – An American multinational corporation that operates a chain of membership-only warehouse clubs. Everything you could want in but and a $1.50 hot dog!Rise Coffee –  A New York-based nitro cold brew coffee company specializing in nitrogen-infused organic coffee and sourcing Fair Trade organic beans from Peru’s Chanchamayo Valley

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
all Insights

Brand Slam Episode 2 – The Life Cycle of Better-For-You Brands

Learn the category audit techniques these leading brands have leveraged to average triple-digit growth.

In this episode of Brand Slam we will cover how better-for-you brands can move from First and Only to Beloved and Dominant.

As covered in David’s book, Beloved and Dominant Brands, the brand ecosystem allows you to develop a realistic, unbiased assessment of your current state and your market opportunities based upon competition, your company culture, and your brand’s strengths and weaknesses. This analysis combined with a deep understanding of the changing nature of consumer preferences provides the platform on which brand strategy is built.

Watch as we host a Q&A with David Lemley, focused on solving a brand’s pain points across the brand ecosystem. Pain points that we have been hearing from the market this year. The tools and tips we will offer will give you insights on the areas of your brand that you can impact immediately, and how to plan for the future.

Brand Slam was created by Retail Voodoo to help CPG entrepreneurs in food, beverage and wellness reduce their struggle with brand growth in the face of Covid-19. Using the auditing process models created by Retail Voodoo to develop Brand Ecosystems, (which we’ve used for some of the world’s most beloved brand and feature in the book Beloved and Dominant Brands,) we uncover key areas that we have seen brand’s struggle at each touchpoint and how to overcome.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
all Insights

The Brand Ecosystem: A Roadmap for Strategic Marketing Communication

When marketers, CEOs, or investors come to us for help with their challenged better-for-you brands, they’re feeling some kind of acute pain: consumers aren’t buying, retailers aren’t stocking, competition isn’t slowing down.

They think they have a problem with innovation or packaging or the logo. But the first step in our strategic consultation — the competitive audit — often reveals a set of challenges they didn’t know they’re facing.

Our competitive audit is based on what we call the Brand Ecosystem. This is a series of seven critical marketing disciplines that we use to benchmark our client’s brand across its competitive landscape. The seven disciplines build from the bottom — a foundation of consumer education — upward:

  • Social
  • Direct
  • Website
  • In-Store
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Consumer Education

Curious about what that competitive audit looks and feels like? We’ve gathered a set of benchmarking questions about each of the seven Brand Ecosystem platforms that you can ask of your brand to see how it’s currently performing and where you have some work to do.

Rebuilding a Marketing Strategy: The Brand Ecosystem

Our Brand Ecosystem model takes the conversation out of the realm of emotion, predisposition, and bias that most brand teams surround themselves with and into the realm of impartiality, reality, and fact. It doesn’t disallow opinion and gut instinct, but it bases those inputs on a solid analytical framework.

Within each of the seven platforms, we look at how the brand is performing vs. its competitors.

  • Do consumers understand not only what the product can do for them (features and benefits) but what the brand stands for (its WHY)? Does the brand teach them the language they can use to advocate?
  • Is the brand story so compelling that influencers and media outlets are gravitationally drawn to covering it?
  • Does advertising function as a call to the brand’s tribe and give them reasons to connect more deeply?
  • Does the in-store experience, including packaging, whisper in the shopper’s ear and tempt her to buy?
  • Does the brand’s website serve as the hub of all digital outreach, reinforcing every step of the customer’s journey from consideration to advocacy?
  • Do the brand’s print and digital direct communications speak intimately to each individual customer?
  • And finally, does social media reach the right consumers through the right platforms with the right messages?

Team Responses to the Competitive Audit

The Brand Ecosystem is a tool that gets at the heart of a Better-For-You (BFY) brand’s challenges in the marketplace. Unbiased and data-driven, it presents an unflinching view of how the brand is doing at winning consumers’ minds, bodies, and souls.

We understand that these raw results can be unsettling for the client team, because they reveal misfires and missteps in their marketing strategy. Relying on a deep analysis of the data helps us paint a picture of the brand that the team may not see because they’re working within the ecosystem. Depending on their roles in the organization, different people have different reactions to what the process reveals:

Founder/owners may feel blindsided by everything that happens during a competitive audit. After all, the brand is the expression of their innovative idea. They take bad news personally and react strongly. But by the time we get to the part of the conversation about what’s possible for the brand’s renaissance, they’re converted. As we talk them through each platform in the Brand Ecosystem, they begin to understand that bad news translates to actionable insights. In a way, the process feels like therapy to them.

Investors recognize that the brand needs this kind of brand strategy guidance. They’re often the most businesslike of the team and have the least amount of emotion. They’re initially skeptical of the audit process, but the first ones to uncross their arms and lean in during the presentation.

Marketers are usually the one with the biggest blinders on. The audit digs into marketing execution, so they’re defensive of the work because they’ve had a hand in it. They fear the unpredictability of what the audit data will show, but they eventually come around.

Change agents the CMO or CGO or CEO newly hired to turn the business around — are often the people who bring us in. They’re enthusiastic about the insights the audit reveals and eager to get started.

Salespeople are often the most resistant to the idea that anything is not working, including the things they’re saying about the brand to their customers. They don’t want to change the positioning of the brand because that will disrupt their deals and therefore their income. And yet, they’re the most passionate about the outcome because they know the difference it will make.

Overcoming Resistance and Taking Action

Knowing that stakes are high for the team and their own work is in the crosshairs, we share our audit results with careful consideration. We need the entire team to buy into our recommendations if the brand is to transform.

When BFY brands strategically act on all of these platforms, the Brand Ecosystem creates engagement between brands and human beings. It simplifies the communication strategy across multiple channels and streamlines the messaging into a cohesive, ownable narrative that delivers a brand’s message to critical audiences. It builds brands that better-for-you consumers actively crave with their mind, body, and soul.

If you feel your brand isn’t firing on all seven cylinders, it’s time to investigate what isn’t working. We invite you to learn more about our Brand Ecosystem model in David’s book, Beloved & Dominant Brands. If you’re ready to get started, let’s get in touch.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
all Insights

Confessions of a Marketer Podcast: Marketing Starbucks (2 of 2)

Featuring David Lemley

On Episode 98, David Lemley is back to continue our chat about retail marketing. This time we focus on his time early on at Starbucks, which taught him a lot. He takes that education with him today to help him current client roster. There are some valuable lessons in David’s story—plus he gives us a look at the future.

Listen on Confessions of a Marketer

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
all Insights

Put a Wrap On It: The Rise of Packaging in Fresh Food

As consumers become more in tune with how and where their food is grown these days, the perception of food packaging has shifted — thus opening the door for brands to radically innovate in design and messaging to entice new buyers.

Shoppers are looking more closely at certifications to ensure products are made with trusted ingredients and best production practices before placing selections into their shopping baskets. Informed by news stories about food and nutrition, they have become more savvy as they shop the center of the store — and the trend has been spreading to the perimeter and into fresh products.

What about produce? Most consumers buy fresh produce in market-style bulk volumes and they have to rely on faith that those products are, in fact, pesticide free, organic, fair trade, etc., as labeled on the shelf tag. Even with those little PLU code stickers on each tomato and signs on the bin of loose-leaf baby kale, there is something not entirely comforting to the consumer that that sticker tells the whole story.

The Rise of Branded and Packaged Fresh Food

And that’s the reason why we’re seeing a rise in packaged produce: Branding, packaging, and graphic design help consumers confidently purchase these products.

Today when I go to my local grocer’s produce section and pick up a pack of baby greens, I’ll see a clean label made with soy-based inks on recycled paper applied to a crystal-clear container made from recycled plastics with the words “Washed 3X,” clusters of certification icons, inviting graphics, and typography — telling me all the right things to ease my anxiety about the product’s origins and safety. The packaging gives me confidence that I’m making a smart, safe choice.

The power of graphic design in produce is exciting. Brands like Organic Girl are leading the charge in fresh packaging and winning consumers over as their go-to choice based on convenience and trust. Designing food packaging has changed the way consumers shop, turning them into label readers with choices instead of label gawkers. Branded produce is bringing life and interest to a formerly quiet department.

The New Fresh Perimeter: 4 Insights

The fresh footprint is getting bigger at retail; it’s not just fruits, veggies, meats, and gallons of milk. Packaged fresh now includes items like snackable cheese trays, hummus and pretzels, meal prep kits, green juices, and more. I’m seeing marketing trends and shopper tendencies that will continue to shape this new fresh packaged category, including:

Farmers’ markets are shaping shoppers’ expectations. Shopping at farmers’ markets is a wonderful experience that makes us feel good about what we are buying and who we are supporting. The opportunity consumers have to speak and deal directly with the source provides a transparency that is hard to match. The trend of fresh in grocery echoes this experience, from the way food is being packaged to the way the retail environment is designed.

Design conveys authenticity. Packaging that shows off the actual food — with windows and clear substrates instead of photographs — takes us right to the farm when we interact with the package. Consumers care about the origin of their food across the fresh category, not just in produce. So a pack of fresh pasta might use classic typography, elegant colors and clear windows showing off the product to make the product feel like it came right from Italy.

Packaging enables convenience. Grab-and-go products especially communicate the freshness and convenience of a healthy, quick meal. Pre-made salads, portion control cheese plates, and serving-sized fruit cups provide alternative meals that consumers can feel good about — and that feel-good messaging (i.e., high protein, low sugar, all natural) is reinforced on the label or wrap.

Sustainability is a concern. Pre-made dinners and delivery meal services are also driving the fresh trend in packaged foods. But as the fresh category adopts bags, boxes, and wraps, a big concern is overpackaging and recyclability. I expect that consumers will quickly start to question how these packaged-fresh brands give back to the environment and their investment in sustainability and fair trade initiatives.

Yes, a consumer might feel weird buying fresh produce in a plastic container. But they’ll feel better about it knowing that Organic Girl puts extra effort into using recycled plastic in their packaging and making their packaging recyclable (consumers who don’t have access to recycling facilities can send their empty packaging back to the brand’s office). That might seem silly, but it absolutely backs up the brand promise of 100% organic, high quality, great-tasting products. To convince a shopper to choose branded spinach over a bundle with a PLU twist-tie from the bulk bin, it’s not enough to tout the quality of the product. Organic Girl goes all-in on purity, nutrition, and sustainability.

I’m not advocating for the produce department to look like a plastic festival. But consumers (and I count myself among them) are adopting a different shopping mentality that emphasizes content over value and that opens up so much potential for innovation in packaging design. The future of fresh may be packaged, but the foundation is more about transparency and education so consumers can make better decisions.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana