- Brandless, a direct-to-consumer home essentials startup, is expanding its assortment to include pet and baby products, CEO and Co-founder Tina Sharkey told Retail Dive in an interview.
- In baby, Brandless now offers organic food pouches and teething wafers, plant-based baby wipes, unscented baby lotion and latex-free diapers, according to company press materials. A week's supply of diapers are priced at $9, higher than the previous product-wide $3 each. Sharkey said that is necessary to offer a high-quality product in the category.
- In pet, the assortment includes organic beef bone broth, non-toxic toys, degradable waste bags and hemp collars, among other things. The addition comes less than a week after the launch of a subscription option.
As Brandless expands, so too does its price point. But its founder insists that customers shouldn't expect a major change to their wallets. Over 90% of the company's product assortment is still priced at $3.
"If we were making a car or a plane, which we're not, it wouldn't be $3, but Brandless is about high quality at remarkable affordable value," she said. "We started with the things you reach for every day. It's also about curation and simplicity."
The startup, which launched a year and a half ago, ended the year with more than 400 products in its assortment. That will likely double this year, Sharkey said. How exactly the company will grow depends largely on "the community," as Sharkey calls her customers. Since launch, shoppers have been calling for pet and baby categories.
"We're really reimagining the purchase funnel. It's like an infinity love loop," she said. "So we're constantly in conversation in spots incorporating them into everything we do."
Like many direct-to-consumer brands, social media is a critical platform for customer engagement. Through tags on Instagram, for instance, Brandless employees have discovered customers who combined Brandless organic honey and organic strawberry preserves to make a fruit leather. Not only did Brandless pull that post into its own story, but it also added a button so customers looking at the post could buy those products straight from it, Sharkey said.
Engagement is about more than product development, though, Sharkey clarifies. "Direct-to-consumer isn't a channel, it's a relationship," she said. One way the company backs that message up with authenticity is with handwritten thank you notes. Every day, every employee in the company pens one, and they're sent off in the mail to customers.
In its quest to speak to the customer on a peer-to-peer level, the company has also embarked on some more unusual ventures — like building a glossary that explains what terms like non-GMO, organic, gluten-free and vegan mean. "People are migrating from the things they grew up with to a new selection of things," Sharkey said, adding that it's their job to educate customers on what is and isn't inside their products.