May 15, 2019
Joining us on the Marketing Mix Podcast is Alysse Burroni, Director of Brand Marketing at SnackNation. Alysse talks breaking the taboo of CBD snacks, capitalizing on cultural tensions in consumption and shifting from a subscription service to a membership model. In sharing her top tips on leading a complete company rebrand, Alysse discusses messaging in two-sided marketplaces and the importance of defining a brand persona.Listen to "Alysse Burroni, Director of Brand Marketing, SnackNation" on Spreaker.
Jeff Ragovin: Can you talk to us about what Snacknation is?
Alysse Burroni: Snacknation is a smart market place where we introduce emerging artisanal brands to America’s most forward thinking companies. We are a snack box delivery service for corporate offices across the country. We’re in just under 6,000 offices now and we work with about 1,000 brand partners.
Jeff Ragovin: CBD has become a huge trend, especially in the snack market. Do you have any plans to tap into the evolving CBD market?
Alysse Burroni: It’s been incredible to watch CBD to grow and propel into the natural product space. It's somewhat taboo, honestly and therefore fairly sensitive. Natural Products Expo West is the largest natural food show in the world - we call it the Super Bowl of snacks. This year was the first year they introduced CBD products. Categorically , we are many seeing it in teas and topicals. I think we will have trepidation on supplying those. We would have to start with some sort of beta or pilot program with more progressive offices.
Jeff Ragovin: How would you get around the taboos that would come with CBD marketing?
Alysse Burroni: I think, from a marketing perspective, there is a lot of education to be done. Much like anytime you’re introducing a new food to the market, you need to educate. Even when products like kale chips made it into the market, there was a lot of education that had to be done on the health benefits of kale as people weren’t used to seeing it. Same with CBD - there’s going to have to be an educational curve in order to push past what I view as a cultural tension, but as a brand. I think something you can capitalize on.
I saw an article in Food Tech Connect and there’s been a lot of consumer chatter on Twitter about wanting CBD Oreos. Mondelez responded in the press and alluded to a potential exploration into CBD infused products.
Jeff Ragovin: To what extent are your consumer insights influencing your product offering?
Alysse Burroni: We definitely get a large range of consumer insights, and we're seeing that consumers are really open to and really want better options. We’re in a situation where big is bad and artisanal is king, and we are seeing a shift from consumers wanting big brand products, to more niche products. There’s definitely a desire for nuts, chips, popcorns and bars. We are seeing a love for indulgence because you can't just make a product that tastes like tree bark any more - it has to be healthy, clean and indulgent.
Jeff Ragovin: Has Snacknation always leveraged a subscription service model?
Alysse Burroni: We have always had a snack box subscription service positioned as a membership. We actually shy away from the word subscription from a positioning stand point because it almost feels harsh and implies a pressure to buy into something, like a magazine subscription. Membership, for us, feels more communal; we are building a community and are helping people to make more conscious food decisions.
Jeff Ragovin: You led a complete rebrand last year. Why was this necessary and what top tips can you offer to others considering a rebrand themselves?
Alysse Burroni: Absolutely. My overarching piece of advice is to know your consumer and build a brand that embodies that consumer. I came from an agency background so I came into Snacknation with fresh, creative, strategy eyes and saw a brand that had so much potential, but didn’t necessarily have its identity together. There were a lot of disproportionate pieces in the marketing funnel and a lot of brand messaging and positioning that didn’t add up.
We talk about Snacknation very differently to an office manager than we do to our brand partners. Any brands that have some sort of two-sided market place or subscription service; that's a big initial brand issue to tackle, because when you have multiple target audiences you have to have one universal way of speaking to them all and then drill down from there.
We looked at the consumer data and searched for who we were speaking to. For us on the consumer side, we found out its about 90% female because when you think of office managers and executive assistants - they are predominately female. When you look on the brand partnership side - emerging artisanal snack brand founders - they are largely male. We had this interesting juxtaposition where we knew we had to lead more into the consumer side as that’s where we are selling to, and so we had to adapt the brand with consideration to the learnings from our consumer data. The brand at the time felt very bold, heavy and was composed of a very dark color palette and so we hired an outside agency and completely turned the brand around.
We have a great leadership team, but we had to look beyond ourselves. So, my tip #1 would be to hire an agency and invest. This is going to be how your brand appears for a minimum of 5 years before another brand redesign because design treatment, positioning and societal trends all change.
Jeff Ragovin: How are you navigating messaging to multiple audiences in the two-sided marketplace?
Alysse Burroni: Have a master message - what do you want to lead with? We have an overarching understanding of our position so that the way in which we communicate Snacknation is always in sync. For us, we are a smart marketplace where we introduce emerging, clean snack brands to people they love at key moments and then drill down from there.
We have a vision statement, which is Snacknation envisions a world where everyone, everywhere has access to clean and delicious food. Behind that we have a mission statement, which is we exist to inspire more conscious food decisions. We have our tagline discover food you love.
Pulling down from there is where we need to understand who we are relaying these messages to and how we are changing the way we speak with an office manager versus an executive assistant. Then you shift to the other side of the marketplace which is the brand partner side. Here, we are talking about funneling their product through this really smart sampling platform to get them really actionable insights.
Jeff Ragovin: What do you think will finally break the internet?
Alysse Burroni: Kim Kardashian broke the internet, but it’s been rebuilt. The internet is such an incredible place for markets, but it’s also a very scary place for marketers because it is so saturated. I wonder if what could break the internet is aborting the internet. Do we go into this next chapter and decade of marketing and look to tap into places where consumers are less attacked? Do we go back into television, or more into out-of-home, billboards, bus racks and Uber-screens?
Jeff Ragovin: Thank you for joining the Marketing Mix Podcast.
Please note, the above has been paraphrased for editorial purposes