Gooder Podcast

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The Radically Fun and Environmentally Friendly Water Brand featuring Amy Friedlander Hoffman

Chief Business Officer for Liquid Death Mountain Water

In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, host Diana Fryc is joined by Amy Friedlander Hoffman, Chief Business Officer for Liquid Death, to discuss their innovative marketing strategies. Amy talks about how the company is helping the environment, the company’s structure for success, and why humor is the perfect marketing tool.

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Key Takeaways

    • Amy Friedlander Hoffman shares how Liquid Death is making it super fun to drink water

    • Liquid Death’s mission to do good and turn traditional marketing on its head

    • Amy discusses her transition from the world of tech to the world of CPG

    • Launching products into new cities and retailers

    • Handling the worst-case scenarios

    • How Liquid Death structured leadership responsibilities and reporting for success

    • Taking advice with a grain of salt

    • What’s the strategy behind Liquid Death’s branding and design?

    • Why Amy left law school to pursue business endeavors

    • How Liquid Death is impacting the environment for the better

    • Why CPG company owners should open up to the idea of hiring outside of the industry

    • Innovative suggestions for how stores could change up their shelving strategies

Quotes

Chapters

This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. A brand consultancy focused on building,growing and revitalizing brands in the food, beverage, health and wellness industries. If youare ready to find a partner that will help your business create a high-impact strategy thatgives your brand an advantage, please visit

https://retail-voodoo.com/contact set up a discovery call today.

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Transcript

Intro 0:05

Welcome to the Gooder Podcast where we talk with powerhouse women in CPG about their journeys to success. This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo. A brand development firm guiding mission driven consumer brands to attract new and passionate consumer base crush their categories through growth and innovation and magnify their social and environmental impact. If your brand is in need of brand positioning, package design or marketing activation, we are here to help. You can find more information at www.retail-voodoo.com.

Diana Fryc 0:43

Hi, Diana Fryc here. I am the host of the Gooder Podcast where I get to talk with a powerhouse women in the food, beverage and wellness categories about their journeys to success and their insights on the industry. Thanks for joining us today. Really quick. This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. Retail Voodoo is a brand development firm. Our clients include Starbucks kind, Rei, PepsiCo, high key and many other market leaders. We provide strategic branded design services for these brands in food, wellness and beverage. If your goal is to increase market share, drive growth or disrupt marketplace with new and innovative ideas, give us a call. Let’s talk. You can find us at www.retail-voodoo.com. Now to the fun stuff. Today, I am excited to introduce Miss Amy Friedlander Hoffman, Amy has spent her career making sense of radically changing industries. She is currently the Chief Business Officer for Liquid Death Mountain water I’m going to height I’m going to put quotes just because you guys are so fun. Um, the fast growing beverage brand packaging water in infinitely recyclable Tallboy cans, overseeing sales, marketing, merchandising, development for commercial strategies, and business development for all brand partnerships. So one busy human Okay. Prior to Liquid Death, Amy spent five years at Uber most recently as the head of business for brand where she oversaw 150 partnerships across entertainment, music, sports, venues, community and, and brand purposeful to improve the customer experience and earning her spot on billboards, top branding power players. Amy’s resume includes an impressive list of media and telecom brands that we just might touch on later today. But for now, we get to say hello. Hello, Amy. How are you? I’m great. How are you? I’m good. And you’re calling from an escape room in Santa Monica today. Is that right? Understanding correctly? Pretty close. Yeah,

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 2:49

I’m actually calling from our new offices that are in the kind of border of Venice in Culver City, so Oh, that’s right.

Diana Fryc 2:55

Yeah. Okay, I was just down in Santa Monica. Um, a couple weeks ago for nosh live. Yah, yah, yah, yah. I call it I call it home. Because I was literally born in Santa Monica. Nice. That’s a my real my real home pardon? And St. John’s. I should check. I’m assuming Yes. But I’m not sure. All I know is the story that my parents tell me that my dad my mom was in labor. We were living in. I think we were well, they were living in La Mirada at the time and dad and decided to have me in Santa Monica of all places, you know, drive all the way across. And he drove down though he was driving down a one way street the wrong way. The cops had to escort them to the hospital. That’s the that’s the extent of my knowledge of the situations. There you go.

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 3:47

busted by the police before before you started.

Diana Fryc 3:51

This explains a lot, right. Okay, okay. Well, hey, let’s talk a little bit about like, we want to hear all about you. We want to start with liquid Death Mountain water. Tell us about the brand. And why does it exist? Yeah.

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 4:09

Liquid Death is absolutely the most fun I’ve ever had, I think in any job at least thus far. Yeah, Liquid Death is you know, that the whole concept of Liquid Death really was Why are only you know, sodas and energy drinks, you know, and candy get to have all the fun. So it’s the idea of taking something that’s healthy, making it 50 times more fun, and something that people enjoy drinking. So, you know, there was, I think a really huge kind of hole in the market where anything that was healthy is pink and blue and looks like it’s marketed to yoga moms. Yeah, we live in a world where it’s, you know, everyone is, you know, from, you know, a Jay Z being vegan to you know, people drinking last and being sober and all of these sort of movements for people being healthy. But really, everything held there was only marketed in runway. So the idea was really to turn that on its head and make it, you know, super fun to drink water.

Diana Fryc 5:08

Yeah, it’s the truth. I think millennials started, kind of, I think accelerated that whole water look and feel that from a consumer standpoint, but I think Gen Z has really allowed us to get more playful and less serious about ourselves, I think the beverage industry, in particular, but food and beverage in the better for you space, we take ourselves pretty dang seriously, even when we’re having fun. We’re serious. And what I love, what I just love about Liquid Death is it’s kind of turning, having fun and poking fun at itself in the industry in the category in a much different way. You’re absolutely serious about what you’re doing. But you’re saying, we’re going to do it this way. We’re gonna throw all the tropes out the door, and we’re gonna start over and we’re gonna do it this way. And I just love it. You know, I took a peek at Mike’s Asterios. Do I say his last name correctly, sir? Yeah, his bio, right? He’s an agency guy. The creative clearly comes from him. And I don’t know exactly who his co founder was. But I mean, you can see that’s where the genesis of all of this. You’re fairly new to the brand joining earlier here in 2021. Talk about what what was the brand opportunity that brought you here? What what, what happened in that moment? In time? Yeah,

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 6:33

I mean, I had been introduced to Mike, actually, almost a year ago now. And we had been talking about me advising, so I actually came in to advise the company originally, they were working on actually having some beginning conversations with Live Nation, which we can talk about and a ton in the past. And so I agreed to come in as an advisor. And then after like, a month, I was like, I’m in like, I love it. Mike is just a wonderful guy. And Jr. Who’s the co founder. Yeah, okay. Yes. Yeah. Mike is an absolutely brilliant, creative, and really, you know, talk about the brand, right? He this is, you know, in some ways, he has a new daughter named Charlotte, but this is his first baby. Yeah. And yeah, and his, and I really appreciated the way he thought about the brand. As entertainment. Yeah, is a character, right, where he thinks about it kind of as like, you know, a WWE character, and what would this character and this brand be. And the other part that I really appreciated about it was that it was done. There’s, there’s, there’s cop, it’s all rooted in comedy, right? The whole thing is, you’re out making fun and making fun of marketing. But doing it in a positive way. Like, it was very early on. We were someone showed us a picture. And they had sort of like, marked up other other brands as, as other names, and you know, like corps Bohr, and all these things. And he was like, You know what? Yeah, no, like, we don’t make fun of others. Right? We’re about making fun of ourselves. Yes. And so and that really resonated with me as well, because it’s like, all really done. You know, it’s kind of subversive and funny, but all done in a very positive way.

Diana Fryc 8:21

And now, now, I want to touch on this for just a moment, because this could be me, but maybe you can validate this or not, but I feel like the brand was very mission centric, kind of got the comedy, I got the turning it on its head. But I feel like it was it’s just been in the last maybe year, maybe less than a year where I feel like a bunch of things Snap to Grid, and now we’re a legit CPG company. And I like I said it could just be me, but I feel like a lot of foundational principles went into place and everything seems to be firing in the same direction. Am I seeing that correctly?

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 8:59

I certainly hope so. The goal? Yeah, and you know, I think another important part, right. And I think a lot of people and I always want included, it’s like, and I started talking to Mike it’s like you see Liquid Death. And I’m like, Yeah, that’s like, I’m, I’m a sunshine and rainbows girl, right? Like, I’m, you know, I don’t wear things with skulls, right? Like, I don’t know that I get it. And then when you get into it, and you realize two things. One is we’re saying it’s just funny. And he’s rooted in humor, and yeah. And to that, it’s about death, the plastic, and that that’s a very popular piece of the debt, that’s part of the Liquid Death. And that’s, you know, really, we’re a mission driven company. And we can have that impact even more so because people are enjoying it. And it’s not like you’re just telling them to do good and thus they will because people generally don’t operate that way. Yeah, so um, so I do feel like the last year has really been firing on all cylinders for us. So we have really aligned from the mission perspective. You know, the comedy hits right and continuing to Yeah, show up in different ways. And in very different ways to sort of drive that message home and entertain people. Yeah. And and then from a retail perspective as well, we started off as a DTC business. Started sales in 2019. Only DTC, not surprisingly, water is very heavy. And so knowing that, yes, now we still have a big and growing DDC business, and now actually moving forward with now with Amazon with that cutter, even more so. But the retail business really, really we started and went into stores in spring of 2020. Started, yeah, first retail partnerships with whole foods and 711. And we just continue to grow, you know, from the retail side from there. All sides. But but that’s been a huge part of it.

Diana Fryc 10:51

Mm hmm. I, I would say that this is it, I am the sole grocery shopper in my family, which would, which would be no surprise. It makes it kind of a challenge when you’re in CPG. And you grocery shop. So I live in the city and I have about seven different grocery stores, local and national. And I actually change each time I shop, I go to a different location so I can watch what’s happening on the shelves. And I it’s so fun to watch a brand like Liquid Death go from like, Kroger to oh, now you’re into like the local shelves you’re in at the level, sometimes it goes the other way around. But with you guys, it came from bigger to smaller. And that’s been fun to watch. Let’s talk about this a little bit further. Now we mentioned in or I mentioned in your the intro that you came from Uber, you, you came from kind of digital and not digital, but kind of tech into the digital industry. How I want to talk a little bit about the transition from where you were to CPG. Because many employers brands that we work with sometimes people who are not working with me are always looking for staff, do you know anybody with 240 years of experience in beverage that can help us turn our business around and be disruptive? So my question for you is how how did that dialogue go with you guys? What did it did it? Was it fluid? Or was it that time together that you had ahead of time where you guys got real comfortable with each other? And that made that transition early or easy? Can you talk about that a little bit?

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 12:32

Yeah, I think it was sort of twofold. I can speak from my side. And then from Mike’s perspective, for me, it’s always about doing something that hasn’t been done before, like, gets me excited and up in the morning. And so I had started my careers we were talking about in media and I worked for AT for a first video on demand company for at&t. And then I had the opportunity to go to Uber and that was like, you know, first time you open the Uber app and hit the button was, you know, magic? Yeah, so I was super excited to go and now work in transportation. And then you know, it’s, for me, it’s always about learning something new. So the idea that I was going to now go do CPG was super exciting, because I don’t know anything. So I was really excited to learn about it. And then from Mike’s perspective, I think, you know, as a company, and what we seen early on, was almost more tech, like, I mean, we have, you know, in the sense of like, from a growth perspective and from people’s love for the brand. And so I think he had a comfort level at, you know, in the kind of growth that we were having the company was having that this was maybe not your normal, traditional kind of CPG company, and he wanted it to be not right, the absolute opposite of that, right? Like, we want to do things differently. We want to, you know, disrupt. So I think from a background perspective, and particularly from my time at Uber, he was very excited by and comfortable with the fact that not only would I come from a world of disruption, but came from a world of high, you know, fast paced, high growth.

Diana Fryc 14:09

Gotcha.

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 14:10

You know, what you think more from a tech perspective, and, you know, it’s, it’s probably one of the biggest things for me here, and I don’t, I don’t think people are sick of me saying it, but I’m always like, faster, faster. You know, like, the thing that keeps me up at night, right? It’s like we got to move.

Diana Fryc 14:25

Oh, well, and that’s the challenge when we were talking about something like a tech to a CPG brand where manufacturing and fulfillment are involved. You can’t have those overnight. You know, like you can’t wake up tomorrow morning and have a new anything. Yes, a way you can other than a platform changes that sort of thing. So I bet there was some, there probably is still some learning for you there and just kind of getting comfortable with the pace and how far can you push until it’s not realistic type of thing.

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 14:55

No, that’s absolutely right. And it’s and in fact, you know, Sean who runs Sales Reps was like, you’re talking about, you know, resets, right in water that happened, oh, my gosh, a year, and maybe once a year, you know, I mean, like, how could that be? And not only, you know, the meeting is in, you know, July, right, or, uh, you know, to go on shelf, you know, nine months later, I mean, literally, it’s like a year and a half right cycle to actually move things on shelf. And so that is, is new. And right. And so then it becomes a question of, okay, well, then how do you surround that? Like, I have no question. And this coming year, you’ll see us continue to expand in both in major retailers, and in the number of stores, and, you know, moving from, you know, hunting license to planogram. And, you know, moving on with other things. And so the end, I think we’re now in about 27,000 doors overall. But that’s where then you also have to, as you said, Go get to the locals, you know, this is a very, and in some ways, actually, it’s been very similar to Uber early, really, yes, in the sense that it’s a lot of it is, it happens in two ways. And one way it’s boots on the ground, right. Okay, you know, amazing folks in sales, who are out there, talking to the general managers, and helping unload a case and literally, you know, stocking shelves, right and getting things into the coolers. And that’s, it’s really a kind of hand to hand combat in that way, in a very boots on the ground thing, where whoever was the same way, whenever we would go into a new city, we would have at least a minimum of three people and you’d have a launcher, and you would have some some of the ram marketing. And so every time and it was sort of concentrated push an effort, yeah, at that growth going in the city, and then it would sort of the flywheel would start and it would sort of work on its own. Right. So I’ve actually found a lot of similarities. And then on the so that’s kind of like the base, like kind of boots on the ground level. And then on the flip side, it becomes the marketing side, and creating attention and randomness. And those are the things that we’ve been focused on with the brand that we can control. Right? Yeah. And be able to push the awareness and sort of I we talk about it being its awareness, but it’s also the idea that for for us, it’s about being in the cultural zeitgeist, right? Yeah, that’s really what Liquid Death is out. That’s what was about Uber was utility. I mean, yes, this is water, you know, or so. But you know, it’s not gonna change your life. But it is, you know, something that is necessary for your life. So, so that’s the other part is really been looking at it from how do we kind of become really be engaged in culture, and responsive and part of it?

Diana Fryc 17:53

Well, I, so I love what you’re saying there. I know that you Uber is utilitarian, but in, in some ways, Uber has its own cultural zeitgeist as well. I mean, it’s not like quite ubiquitous, like using the term band aid for anything that works like a band aid, but almost there like it’s its own culture. Uber changed the way we look at transportation, and use technology in a completely different way. So I don’t see them as dissimilar. Just Uber is now so much more established. Isn’t that weird to say? It’s an established brand, where Liquid Death is still in its infancy, for the most part in regards to market penetration. So I think I get to similarities I get, I see the connections there, and how awesome it is, for the founders to be able to go to be able to think that way. That says a lot about what’s possible with Liquid Death, because I think oftentimes, founder owners can have a lot of fear. Sometimes it’s baby, sometimes they’re afraid of money. They’re made of mistakes, I mean, making mistakes, there’s fear for all sorts of things. And I can’t blame them, right? I mean, I’m my own agency, and I understand wanting to maintain profitability, and all of those things. But to be able to have the foresight to go, this is the way to go and feel confident enough to just go at it and hire according to the need of the brand. And not just to fill check the box or to fill the role is really says a lot about how that organization of the brand thinks. Does that make sense? No,

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 19:34

it does. And it’s and I think, and I’m, and I’m grateful and appreciate the way Mike thinks about things, right, where he is very open, you know, to sort of whether it’s, you know, I mean, again, from the creative side, he’s, for sure. And from the business side, like Yeah, has a very pragmatic way of seeing kind of what’s important. And, and, and, and is open and wants to Think Big right about, you know, and so, and in fact, you know, we’ve had, you know, situations, the worst thing that could happen to us, right is that we run out of product like we don’t, you know, that may have an order enough. And so everything is really pushing and pushing the company to think, you know, let’s assume that we’re gonna hit the biggest numbers that we possibly can like, the one thing that would kill us is if we didn’t have subprime inventory. And we’re seeing that a ton now, right? I mean, are you like, well, not for us, but with the supply chain shortage? Yeah, that’s true. Aluminum shortages that are happening. So you know, we’ve been able to take advantage of a lot of the issues with other brands that haven’t been able to stock the shelves. And so, you know, retailers want things on their shelves, and we have the product. And we’ve, and that’s been kind of a defining factor for the companies like we’ve never, you know, we’ve, you know, knock on wood. Hopefully, we’ll continue to do it. We continue to, you know, surprise ourselves. Yeah. from a growth perspective. Yeah. So it’s really important that we are prepared for that, not only in making sure that we have that product, but then also thinking about things that we said differently, right. Like how, you know, and a lot of that does come from Uber, from my perspective, well, it was like, this didn’t exist, right? To write the rules. And we we did we, you know, I mean, we wrote a ton of them. And it was, so it was like, That is possible now, and knowing that really kind of in that way anything’s possible allows us the freedom of flexibility, I think Roadmaster.

Diana Fryc 21:31

Yeah. Well, let’s talk about those early days, when you just joined the team. How did you set yourself up for the win? And how did Liquid Death set themselves up for you to win as well? Because it’s definitely both sides.

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 21:47

Yeah. I mean, I would say, one of the things that was sort of nice for me in that respect, was we were having conversations with Live Nation. And so we now have a, you know, a multi year very deep partnership with Live Nation Nice. Where, where the, yes, which is great. We’re the exclusive still in sparkling water, in over 100 venues and over 20 festivals a year. And with it, you know, like a very, you know, deep relationship between the two of us. And so that was something when I came in, that we were starting. So in one way, it’s nice to come into a role and be like, Okay, I know what my first 90 days at least one of the major things that have to happen, right, is this, you know, and so, so I think that was very good from setting it up. I would say one thing that we didn’t do very well, that took some time to readjust was, we weren’t very clear with respect to lines of reporting, where it was like, hey, interesting in its chief business officer, and it was just sort of like on the side. Yep. And it made it, I think, somewhat more confusing for people. So choppy, we know, this is what she’s doing this part. But the overseeing everything else was more challenging. And at one point, then I ended up, you know, going like me like this, this, this structure doesn’t work, we need to stay here reporting lines, we need to know that this is it, these things all roll up into me, and they have that responsibility. And that, and then that clarified things, and I think helped move a lot forward in a way that didn’t. So I mean, it was interesting, because there really were things where I felt like, oh, yeah, that was set up for success. And then, if I were to ever go on and do the next company, I would make sure that was very clear from the beginning. Because I’m very, I mean, I generally kind of roll with it. So it was sort of like, great. And Mike to like, we’re like, cool, we’ll figure it out as we go, you know, and, and that was something now that I, you know, sort of as a learning that if I ever went and started new, I would be extremely clear from the beginning with respect to reporting structures and what needed to happen, because we didn’t lose time. But it just took a little bit of relearning in a way where it was like, Hey, I’m, I’m here BD as part of what I do, but I come in to run BD, I’ve come in to run the business. Yeah. Can you just set that up accordingly? Yeah, we know, that was the intent. So we got to make sure that the structure follows the strategy.

Diana Fryc 24:11

Well, that is not uncommon in entrepreneurial organizations, you know, you that their strength is their weakness, their ability to be agile and to think and sometimes we run fast and loose, we’re like, okay, you know, I said it as an entrepreneur, I said it, I put it out in the universe, that means people understand it isn’t necessarily true. And I think it’s really great when somebody can come in and guide these owners into that kind of thinking, because that may not necessarily be a natural way for them to think. So. It’s great that you’ve got that tucked in your back pocket. And I would even offer that to those in the audience that are looking to move to you know, from a more structured brand like your major big CPGs or another tech industry into a smaller organization is probably Spend a little bit of effort, putting some structures into place around it not only reporting but then also responsibilities underneath those reporting structures. And if that means you’re on higher number five and higher number five is got 17 hats. That’s cool. But let’s define those hats, right?

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 25:18

Yep, absolutely. And that’s what’s gonna happen in like, you know, we’re in a stage, certainly, as a company, we’re starting to get somewhat more specialized. But But, but not really. Like, it’s still a team full of athletes. Right? And yeah, and then that’s, you know, a lot of what you need in the early stages, yeah, there, you know, and, and it’s been interesting to where we’ll get, you know, advice from folks or advisors and some folks who are, you know, long term CPG. And it’s like, well, you need, you know, this kind of data analyst. I was like, at some point, yes. You know, but we’re, we’re like a, you know, stories back here. We don’t have 100 people who are, well, we have one, now we’re gonna add to Right, right. So it’s like, you know, kind of that crawl, walk run, figuring out how you staff to make sure that we’re fulfilling on those things. But yeah,

Diana Fryc 26:04

it’s Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s that gut instinct meeting. Understand her kind of gut instinct, meeting research and what you’re supposed to do with it. I think people when they give advice, they’re doing it in, you know, they’re doing it as a favor. As a credibility play. I don’t think ever anybody means it to be belittling in any single singular away, but I think entrepreneurial organizations should not not be 100% debt, but I think they should be at that, like 60% got where, take a look at the data, if the feed that if you know, you have somebody going by $500,000 worth of data, and that’s gonna put you in the red, you know, I’m, of course exaggerating, but like, you know, use the brains around it a little bit and take the advice, because the advice is good, it just not be practical in this moment,

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 27:02

right? It’s exactly I mean, if you look at, you know, the product, I mean, Liquid Death, like, nobody, if you had, you know, if you had surveyed people, you know, if you had asked for advice, right wouldn’t exist, because no one would go preach. Yes. gonna work. Right. You know what, I mean, micro, that’s so much, you know, again, such kudos to continuing to push through and knew he had something, because so many, particularly those CPG meetings was like, no one will ever stock Liquid Death on a show. Yes. That was the advice. And now it’s funny when we deal with larger partnerships are starting to, you know, sort of deal with big, you know, like hospitality and having that discussion with folks. And it’s like, you know, hey, there’s Deathwish coffee. You know, Kroger has Death by Chocolate, can you believe, you know, killer Dave’s Killer Bread, like, this is not totally new. And like, you know, I mean, but because it’s packaged the way it is, and such sort of a rock and roll away with a skull on it, right? So you have that immediate reaction of like, Oh, God, you know, like, someone’s going to be scared. And it’s like, people get it, like, you got we have to, we talk about that, too. You know, we don’t talk about people as you know, consumers like, right, and they’re much harder, and they get it. And we’re going to talk about them as people and they understand that, like, you’re not going to die from drinking.

Diana Fryc 28:24

Right? Let’s let I mean, let’s be clear, Liquid Death is the perfect example of a brand ecosystem, Liquid Death, just the name if you printed it, you know, in generic type, or tried to put flowers in a palm tree on it and stick them on a shelf is not going to work. It is the entire ecosystem. It’s your mission, vision values. And the design system and knowing who your target audience is, I mean, yes, at the end of the day, you still have to sell product. So we have to look at consumers in one way. But yes, they are people. But we’re not trying to sell Liquid Death to the people who drink SmartWater You guys created a whole new audience, a group of people that were probably downing Mountain Dew and Gatorade, which nothing wrong with that. But you are now adjusting the this audience and bringing new people into the category in a way that, like it just really is just wonderful and surprising. I love it.

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 29:25

Yeah. And I think that’s been really helpful. It’s a lot of the messaging to from, you know, to retailers, right? Is that where it’s not just right, we’re taking it from one water brand and moving it to another right. It is that we’re bringing in people that wouldn’t necessarily have had a water. Right? Well, right, because they’re drinking it in something that they actually feel good drinking. They like the taste, and they feel good holding it.

Diana Fryc 29:48

Yes. That makes them look cool. Yeah,

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 29:50

exactly. And that’s never, you know, a joke like no one’s ever gonna say why did you buy that? You know, and that no one’s ever gonna be like, because it makes me look cool. Like, you know, it’s like emotional connection. that you have to it. And then it’s the, the intellectual connection or if you’re like that, that the plastic, and I, you know, I feel good because they are, you know, putting a portion of their profits to plastic pollution providing water for those that don’t have it. So like that’s the, you know, the the justification. But you know, but more of it is like because it feels good, and it looks cool. And you see it, you know, friends, you know, 60 year old guys, two kids. We’re finding we have so many parents that have written us and said, This is the only water my kid will drink. Because it’s fun.

Diana Fryc 30:35

Yeah, I we had my daughter, my oldest daughter’s graduation from college this summer. And I brought regular regular bottled water brands that we’ve worked with in the past. And then I brought in a case of Liquid Death because of the age group. And you could walk through the party and tell by age and you know, who aligned with what it was pretty great. Yeah, well, let’s talk about this environmental activism component of the brand, by way of kind of stepping back into your history a little bit. You originally kind of coming into the profession, you started out in law. Right. You didn’t you want to be a criminal, a criminal defense attorney. Yeah. prosecuting

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 31:24

criminal defense. Yeah. I mean, I joke that I always wanted to be a lawyer till I got to law school. Which is true. And and criminal law. That is exactly what I wanted to do.

Diana Fryc 31:36

Yeah. And, and there, how did that I This feels like it’s gonna be a reach. But I remember from when we prepped on this, like, sit there is there’s a lot there’s a line, there’s a dotted line from how that where you were then to how you got to where you are now. Where’s the What’s that guiding principle? And what was the aha moment that you had back then that said, I gotta go in a different direction?

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 32:01

Yeah, I mean, I actually had an amazing experience in law school, where there were 2 11 year olds that were accused of throwing a five year old out the window in Chicago, and the projects in Chicago, and I went to University of Chicago for law, and we had the legal aid clinic. So we represented one of the 2 11 year olds, and it was, you know, like, just an unbelievable, you know, experience and one that I was thought, you know, like, God bless the people that can get up and do this every day. But for me, it was kind of too much. I was like, I can’t I don’t think I’m too wrapped up, you know, two years, on a case and with these kids. And so, kind of, I think that was the first sort of knowing myself moment. And I was like, I don’t think this is gonna be it for me. And so, you know, but I let me try corporate law. I moved on to the corporate side. I mean, it actually was funny. I went Kate went back, which was nice. Chicago asked me to come back and speak it and entrepreneur. Yeah, which is really nice. But I was joking when I got up to speak. And it was same thing kind of talking about career, but I was like, you know, it was almost the whole point of the speech, which is like you never know, being open to what life has to offer you and kind of having a just do it. Ninth mindset, even if you don’t feel 100%, comfortable that you know what you’re doing. Here, I am coming back to speak about entrepreneurism and I came to be a criminal attorney. So it’s like, that’s the whole point, you know, and just being open to it. So yeah, so I sort of had that thread practice, corporate law, switched over to the business side. And one of the earlier companies that I was with, because it felt on the legal side, it felt about the key was about how to protect downside risk. And, you know, business, that’s your job, right, and, you know, getting the deal done, but like making sure that what if stuff goes wrong, like have you ever acted, you know, the company, right. And for me, it felt kind of the opposite that I was, my, what I enjoyed, and the strength was sort of, you know, deals and strategy and how do you make it go, right? Like, what are the things that you can do, to put into place that where you, you know, hopefully, you never look at the agreement, but you’re creating something right value for both people, and you’ve created that relationship with people as well. So that’s kind of how I, you know, started on that path. And then it’s just been about as I said earlier, you know, even when I came here from Uber, I’d kind of narrowed it down to what I would call like, the three P’s, right? It’s like, what’s the problem? What am I going to get up and do every day and focus on and am I excited about doing that? Number two is people like, who am I doing this with? You end up you know, as you know, right? When you’re working hard you spend this becomes your family, right? It’s your family. That’s fruits, yeah. You see them more maybe then you see your own family at times. So who are the people and am I excited and do I like these people and am I excited by you know, being next to them and working with them? And then what’s the potential And that potential could be, you know, for fulfillment and what you’re doing, whether that’s doing good, whether from a financial perspective, like, you know, how do you feel about, you know, excited about the potential that it has. So, I’d say, you know, those are really the things you know, thematically that if, through this kind of windy road, and different industries, have always been there, and really sort of articulated the things that have guided me and figuring out what I want to do next. Got me to Liquid Death.

Diana Fryc 35:27

Now, I feel like there were a couple of touch points around social justice and environmentalism that were in that path that seemed to be really giving you some opera, like you’re able to express it even more so here at Liquid Death, but that there were those elements along the way. Were those contributing factors in in going to Liquid Death? Or is that just kind of free with purchase? Bonus?

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 35:52

No, I was definitely a part of it, too. So I had gotten I’ve been on the board of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, the past eight year 810 years, it’s been a while. Wow, which, and La Waterkeeper is the organization that protects our rivers and oceans. All actually all of the water sources, you know, for Los Angeles, and with, you know, drinkable, swimmable, fishable clean water. So, which has become a huge issue, right, when you right, where we’re going forward. And it’s like the ability to have to have good water sources, you know, whether whether we were dealing with the drought issues, trade, or whether we’re dealing with oil spills, right? It’s like that. It’s kind of ultimately what, you know, what makes us survive. And so I’ve been on the board for many years. And so then Liquid Death ended up really feeling like a perfect fit in that. Because it was a way, as I said before, like, you know, and I’ve seen this a lot, certainly from the nonprofit side, where, you know, telling people they should do something is actually because it’s good for them, or particularly good for the planet is generally not that effective. Like, right, or self interested. And they do yes. Because they enjoy it, because it’s, it has meaning to them. So one of the things that I’ve loved and really contributed to me coming here was the idea that the impact that we could have, that I could have on a massive scale, right? It’s like, Yes, I mean, you know, just take the Live Nation deal as an example, you know, go through, you know, what, eight to 10 million bottles or, you know, cans, yeah, would have been plastic bottles. So right now, those are gone. Now, you see others in the industry that have seen that do and whether it’s us or somebody else, they’re like, oh, okay, I guess I have to get serious about getting rid of single use plastic. Yes. Great. There goes those bottles, you know, and so the more things, so I think from I mean, frankly, you know, if I think about, you know, all of the bottles that you know, the CANS that we have sold, that somebody that would have purchased, you know, a single use plastic bottle that was not going to get recycled, and it was going to go and you know, even talk about that, but like even, you know, they talk about it’s 8% of plastic at most ever gets recycled. And most of it is just cheaper for them to buy to create another bottle than it is to recycle. Yeah, it was in a landfill. And it’s so the ability to really be able to affect that at a large scale now, by creating a product that people are excited to drink and prefer. And the benefit of that that now gets plastic single use those single use plastic bottles out like I really can’t think of anything better that sort of aligns with it from my personal perspective on that way too.

Diana Fryc 38:42

Well, and to go back to the creative that comes out of Liquid Death. I think it when we spoke I had mentioned that I just seen some video or commercial that Hamid done Am I saying his name correctly? Possibly from your sales team posted on LinkedIn and it was just this it was something that was filmed on the beach and it was it was just so corny

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 39:06

boys it was I think we did probably it was the thing that we had done with him I think media who runs our econ There we go. Yeah, yeah, it’s exactly yes. We had done it in partnership with Amazon show the boys and so one of their characters the deep who has kind of the you know, the superhero but not the greatest of superheroes? Actually. Yes, we hired him and fired him as our Chief Sustainability Officer.

Diana Fryc 39:29

Yes, yes. This is all good. Oh my gosh, what is the name of that? If somebody wants to go and look that up right now what’s the Do you remember the name of the campaign or the concept was Do you remember

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 39:38

if you Google Liquid Death and the deep Liquid Death and the boys then okay, that’s the Amazon show that we did in Kentucky?

Diana Fryc 39:46

Yeah, yeah. Just if you guys want to see how I mean anybody that knows Liquid Death, that’s listening. You guys you guys know Liquid Death. But if this is a new brand for you just go and get inspired. Just for three minutes about how you can really shake up in industry, right? So when we’re talking about so it kind of lets full circle back here. Now, as we start coming coming in for, kind of towards the end of our time here. Let’s talk about how we can coach or advise founder owners or any kind of I mean, it could be anyone all the way up to free to PepsiCo, like, how do you look at shaking things up? And how do I want to say this? How do you find the Amy Friedlanders of the world and get comfortable with the idea that we don’t need to have people from the industry come in? What kind of advice do we give?

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 40:49

Yeah, I mean, I think it goes beyond it goes more to thinking about what’s the skill set you need? Right? Like, what are you looking to? Do? You know, is it looking find somebody who really understands strategy or who understands, you know, EComm, in a way, and it’s not necessary, and then, you know, is so much of it from an industry perspective, it’s, you know, it’s learnings that you have from other industries, I mean, whether, you know, it was doing, you know, if we’re free, T and T, right, and it’s like, looking at the subscription business, right, and, you know, and we helped launch, I helped them launch their television service, and then I ran the broadband programming, and it’s like, you know, entirely different industry, right, inside of things. But you have sort of understandings that you get from the way people think about that business. Hmm, we’re right, a completely different stress education, you know, you know, marketplace economy. So it’s like, what are the similarities to what you have in your business that you are looking, you know, to change? Or to do? Like, what are those? What are the similarities related to how you sell your product, or what or, you know, whether it’s, I’m looking to change something in marketing, or, you know, this is an issue and, you know, sales or in product in a different way. And then thinking about what the industries are, that might have either similar, again, it could be either similar business models, models, similar growth trajectories, thinking about things in a different way, and being able to look at industries and being just open to the idea that, you know, I, you know, I appreciate it certainly in the fact that, you know, we have plenty of people here who have been in CPG and in beverage, and if you’ve got to have, you know, and Red Bull and all of these sorts of brands have done those things, you have to have that too, right, that people that totally understand it, but having the perspective from something outside of the industry as well, if it’s, you know, high growth, and that’s what you’re looking for, you know, if it was, you know, changing a business model, doing those things, I think that’s those are the kinds of things that I would focus on, like, what are the things we’re trying to solve for? And then what industries have done those similarly, are companies within those industries? Similar? And then I would look from that perspective. Hmm,

Diana Fryc 42:58

interesting. Okay, good. Good. Okay. So I’m really good for jumping around here. I’m going to jump back to something else that we talked about a little bit earlier. If you could wave your a magic wand. And as you’re thinking about the water beverage and CPG industry, as you see it now, still somewhat new. I mean, you’re not quite a year in what what do you wish brands could do either around hiring or environmental activism or the way they run their business? Or, you know, what would that magic wand be? And what would you touch? Yeah.

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 43:37

I think the

Diana Fryc 43:41

tough one, I know.

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 43:42

Yeah, no, I mean, there’s so many different ways to think about it. I mean, it’s, I think, from the, you know, innovation perspective, right, that the ability to move, I mean, if I had magic wand, the ability to move quickly, right, the ability for a brand to be on shelf to look at what sales were, and then change that on a regular basis versus again, a once a year reset, or maybe now really doing a reset, you know, and it’s like, you understand everybody’s got those things, but it makes it tougher, I think, for brands to be able to move to grow or to be able to find that market share when you know, it feels say like gatekeepers, right. This is you know, yes, this is a retail business. Yeah, but that there’s less of an ability to sort of move those things along. Yeah, for sure. I wouldn’t change that.

Diana Fryc 44:33

Yeah, I could, I could see that, you know, the ability to test and learn on a higher degree of frequency. I wonder if you could do that and stay still maintain profitability from an operational standpoint as a retailer, like if you’re switching things out and resetting, you know, seven times a year, are you maintaining profitability? Are you leaving product on shelf long enough to even know if it’s going to be

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 44:56

stickers, right, except those things? There’s got to be a balance right, right. It says added in seven times a year is probably too much right. There. So Right. But certain products that have been for a certain time, yes. Say, you know, do you do? Yeah, maybe three times create an area, you know, do some things that right that give Yes, it’s brands the ability because, you know, coming from businesses where growth happened much would happen generally very quickly. Right? Yes. Really? You know, still in this business where it’s like, cool, our, you know, our awareness continues to grow this sales continue to grow. Yeah, there is a gating factor with respect to someone’s gotta be able to find it on the shelf.

Diana Fryc 45:40

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. They should have a, they, I’m gonna I’m wondering what what it would be like, if let’s, let’s brainstorm a solution here real quick. No, I’m, I’m just thinking like, if, if you had somebody like a Kroger, and they just had a section, they just had a certain amount of a certain slot size that was dedicated to just Hi turn in trial of a product rather than thinking of the whole section at a time, that might be a really great way to just kind of, okay, every once a quarter, let’s try something new in this lot, you know, and see what happens. I wonder, instead of looking at it, like this big aggregate thing, like just dedicate a small amount, I wonder if that might be a valuable way to look at being able to help brands like yours kind of get in and just try it? Yeah,

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 46:29

exactly. That may be the case, you know, and figuring out how to write how to do it, you know, smaller amounts in a session to be able to get I mean, you know, the flip is, obviously, there’s got to be enough, you know, as I’m learning about facings, right? And no, right now, right? All of that, right? Yes, the things that you look to grow right over time. But, but you might be able to get some really interesting information if you have an entire row for X period of time. And it’s yeah, all our period of time, right? Yeah. I understand why, you know, right. And then you know, the flip, but again, it’s sort of like the things that we’ve got retail on in shelf. And then there’s the awareness that the brand needs. Yes,

Diana Fryc 47:05

it’s all gonna go. Yeah, it’s, it’s very systemic, you guys from from a facing standpoint, brand blocking, you don’t mean you could have two slots or 40 slots, I think you’re just going to be as impactful. But for those that have 13 skews and want to have half of their flavors or half of their product on shelf, that’s a different situation. Again, it’s that’s a strategy. That’s another episode. Join us again, when

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 47:30

we’ll come back when you’re about to come out with innovation the next few weeks, and hey, hey,

Diana Fryc 47:34

okay, I’m looking forward to that. I might have to, I might have to make sure some of that ends up in the mail to me. Well, we’ll talk after we record, it sounds good. Well, Amy, I am really enjoying our conversation. Our time is almost up. But there are three questions that I’d like to ask every guest. So I’m going to go ahead and ask them of you right now. One is, is there some sort of interesting fact that you’d like to share about the industry, your product, it could be in a previous life, it could be in water? CPG something that I like to call a happy hour facts, something I can take to my friends who are outside of the industry and go did you know,

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 48:12

right? Did you know that 77% of aluminum that has been in circulation, since it was created is still around and gets recycled? 77 7%? Yes, yes. Which is that is amazing. Does it degrade after a drink? He doesn’t back test the difference? It doesn’t degrade. So the properties of aluminum, whether when you melt it down, and you create another can the properties stay the same? Yeah. Out is still

Diana Fryc 48:39

yes. That and that’s different than other metals if i Mmm, I think stainless and other metals is not as flexible. But that could be I don’t know, that’s an old

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 48:50

unit that I do not know. But I do know for aluminum, it’s 77% Interesting. I love that I shouldn’t being being recycled and reused. Awesome.

Diana Fryc 48:59

Are there any other women leaders? Or maybe even rising stars out there in our industry or not? That you would like to just mention, elevate or simply admire for the work that they’re doing? And? And if so, who? And why?

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 49:13

Oh my gosh, there are certainly. Ooh, I may have I know I’m so on the spot of how many great women that I know. It’s tricky.

I mean, I would have to say, oh, gosh, that is a tougher one. You know, I feel like I’ve actually maybe because I have watched her but Marisa Bertha from 711. Okay, sort of someone that we have worked with, who I’ve been very impressed by and very engaged and very impressed by so I would like I say she would be a good one to

Diana Fryc 49:47

show Okay, so somebody that we could just give a little shout out to nicely done. Yes. Um, what brands and or trends do you have your eye on and why?

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 49:59

In CPG specifically or could be in anything. Vegas to me, the metaverse. Really, truly, yes. Okay. I mean, it is absolutely fascinating to me, you know, watching. So some of the stats that are interesting that over just about 50% of all kids under 16 are on Roblox. 50%, what’s the percentage

Diana Fryc 50:29

55, zero

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 50:31

50% of all kids 16 And under are on in the US are on rope, okay? So when you look at where when I look at where the world is going, and when you watch kids who don’t really see the difference between a physical and a virtual good, then it’s the same. And the other one stat that was so fascinating on that, I think it’s, I know it’s over 50% as well, and I can’t remember if it’s even way more, change their, their, their skins, their avatars, their what they’re wearing. Yeah. And so it’s this, like, from a trend or concept of seeing an entire generation that’s growing up with digital and physical, being kind of interchangeable that they have they take the same properties and thoughts with both of those things. You know, you’re seeing, you know, you know, virtual goods go the same or higher price than the actual physical. Because there’s not much of a delineation. I mean, granted, those two worlds are different. But the thinking that it’s any different in the real world versus a virtual world. They’re spending as much time there as real world. Yes, that is an area to me that I think we are just, you know, jumping into. Yeah, we’re the beginning of the first inning on that. And so when I look at things really future on the horizon that I think are fascinating, a little scary. I mean, in a way, because I’m, you know, I would say one of the things even when I looked at the next roll for me was I didn’t want to do anything that made people scroll on their phones, like I really wanted to. Yeah, I kind of thing that was like, in real life moment. Yeah, it’s exactly. But But still, I think from you know, things that I’m looking at, and really fascinated by that is one trend. And one. It’s not a trend. It’s just sort of the way the world is Yeah, yeah. And it bears you know, people being aware of

Diana Fryc 52:27

Yeah, little Ready Player One is what? Appointed on Hey, exactly. Oh, my goodness. Well, we have been talking with Amy Friedlander Hoffman, Chief Business Officer of Liquid Death, calling from an escape room at their new corporate offices. Amy, where if people wanted to learn more about you? Or the brand? Where where would they go?

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 52:53

Yeah, I mean, I would say you can certainly go to www.liquiddeath.com. Better, though, follow us on Instagram, or TikTok, I would say those are probably the two places that would be best to follow us. We are now the number seven beverage brand on those platforms and social. Thanks. I

Diana Fryc 53:12

think I saw that.

Amy Friedlander Hoffman 53:14

Yep. Pretty exciting. So those would probably be the two best places and then always someone’s Welcome to hit me up on LinkedIn.

Diana Fryc 53:21

Oh, well, Amy, thank you so much for your time today. And for all that you’re doing. I have a feeling that we could probably talk about a whole lot more. But I appreciate the time that you’ve given me and everybody listening today. I’m really looking forward to what you’re up to next. Do you pique my interest and, and watching how you guys continue to change the industry. So thank you. Thank you, everybody, for listening today. Have a great rest of your day. Make sure you catch us next time. And Amy, have a great rest of your day too. Thanks so much. It was a pleasure.

Outro 54:05

We hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you haven’t already, be sure to click subscribe and share with your network. Until next time, be well and do gooder.

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Chief Sales & Marketing Officer
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.

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