To take on giants Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Amazon is one thing. To do so with an unorthodox retail model is another matter entirely. Yet for health food startup Thrive Market, the risk is paying off handsomely.
Since launching in late 2014, the e-commerce subscription-based service has amassed 3.8 million subscribers and won the approval—and financial backing—of Deepak Chopra, celebrity physical trainer Jillian Michaels, and others.
So how did the small, Los Angeles-based venture make such an early impact? Hudson Andrews, Thrive Market’s Director of Marketing and Finance, credits much of the success to the company’s commitment to providing healthy foods at affordable prices while continually educating customers.
Thrive Market is growing rapidly in a very crowded market. How are you able to stand out?
We're entering into the same product catalog that Whole Foods or Amazon covers, but we're reaching an entirely new audience: people who couldn't previously afford the foods, or don't have access to a Whole Foods or a local organic grocer. Because we're online and e-commerce, we can ship it to their door and provide them with a real service, while saving up to a third of their traditional retail grocery bill.
As a relative newcomer, you have to constantly prove yourself and your product. What's the key to getting customers to make the leap and try the service?
We do a lot in the way of educating people, both on the organic side and why they should eat healthy as well as the benefits of a membership model itself. We churn out three to five blog posts a day as well as three to five videos a week. We are invested heavily in providing valuable content and educational pieces to our subscribers, as well as those who are looking to try Thrive Market for the first time.
What did you learn during your first year and how has it informed your approach?
What we've found challenging is figuring out how to use our content for real hardcore acquisition purposes, because people will come and read your article and then they will bounce. We're working very hard to create a world-class content marketing engine by creating articles and videos that are specifically designed for direct responses, while also figuring out how to dial in our content to get that acquisition.
Which digital channels have been the most effective?
The platforms where we have the opportunity to educate a bit and work with influencers and bloggers, like Facebook, as well as platforms where we can really show the value of our pricing, like paid search.
Pinterest is probably the most obvious platform in which we've really harnessed the power of a particular audience. It’s interesting because Pinterest is essentially just like search—it will display an ad to someone based on their search queries. We have a wealth of food-related content, including a slew of recipes. We have an in-house recipe developer and a photography team that creates fantastic end result products. So we've been able to leverage that content effectively and organically.
How does your mission and ethos factor into the marketing?
Our mission is always at the forefront. It starts with the quality of the product and the catalog of items that we have, and extends through the entire experience—from the first time customers see an ad to the delivery and packaging of their box. It all fits into place if you have a core principle that resonates with people. By providing access to healthy living that’s affordable to everyone, I think it speaks for itself.
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