The company’s CEO TJ McIntyre told FoodNavigator-USA that he also hopes to increase the brand’s ecommerce sales to 25% of the company’s total mix over the next year and eventually as high as 40% through its own DTC efforts and with help from Amazon as part of the platform’s Emerging Brand’s Program.
The two began working together in August to achieve this and other goals, including improving Bobo’s branded store page on the platform, its search optimization and return on investment for marketing spend with Amazon overall, McIntyre added.
“The program is such a friendly exchange and everybody is rowing in the same direction. There is a lot of enthusiasm because they believe that the growth we can achieve by taking their pointers is as much as 200-300%,” he said, adding that he feels “blessed” that the retailer invited Bobo’s to join the program.
“The opportunities for marketing with Amazon are unending and we are trying to figure out which programs, alongside our advertising, are going to be great spends for us. So, that is where we are beginning to dive into with them, and that will include interactions with the marketing teams to look at options as simple as positioning ourselves as a stocking stuffer or working with a celebrity who is going to talk about their quote unquote favorite things for the holidays,” McIntyre said.
“These are options that could really enhance our ability to get our product in front of more people than simply advertising on search word results for own brand as well as some of the products in the nutrition bar category that we compete with,” he added.
The brand also is benefiting from “feedback on the minutia” of its branded page on the platform, which the company stood up last summer, but which Amazon is helping to fine-tune through the program.
“When you sit with someone who works with Amazon and they look at how you built it and the size of the pictures and how many pictures and the word count” and they provide detailed feedback that can optimize the page across Amazon, the results are far more beneficial than what Bobo’s could have achieved alone, McIntyre said.
A solid foundation of growth
While the partnership no doubt will help Bobo’s grow online more quickly, the brand was fueling significant growth on its own prior to teaming with the retailer.
In 2017, the company’s sales grew 70%, in 2018 they went up 45% and they are predicted to increase by 40% in 2019, according to Bobo’s.
Specifically online, McIntyre said the brand drove velocity of its bars at e-grocery with Albertsons, Safeway, Kroger, HEB and Wegman’s. The brand’s bites are up internally 150% this year and 15% over the summer alone, he added.
McIntyre attributed some of this success to the nature of the nutrition bar and bite category, which he says are “the new candy bars and anywhere there are human beings spending just a little bit of time, I think, we have a transaction opportunity.”
‘This is a bit of a gold rush’
While not every company can participate in Amazon’s Emerging Brand’s Program, McIntyre said every company should be on the retailer’s website or at a minimum have an ecommerce presence.
“The dollar opportunity at this point in time is so significant that not participating in the channel, which is rapidly growing and evolving,” is a huge mistake, McIntyre said.
He described the rush to develop branded landing pages and optimize searches on Amazon to “a bit like a gold rush,” noting that many of the customers also shop at Whole Foods, making the platform a “must.”
In addition, he noted, Amazon provides “far more equal footing” for emerging brands “with some of the biggest CPG companies that we compete with on Amazon versus Kroger or Albertsons-Safeway, where they have these really rich partnerships and can kind of pound on the table and demand that they have a certain number of SKUs listed on the shelf.”
While he acknowledges big CPG companies also are investing in Amazon, he further explained that because the platform is still so new everyone is trying to figure out best strategies and no one has a competitive edge, yet.
Internalizing ecommerce staff
As the race to develop an ecommerce presence intensifies, McIntyre recommends companies internalize the staff to develop the online experience and ecommerce presence, rather than rely on outside consultants.
“An agency that is going to have a fixed monthly rate and then eventually convert that to a commission is most likely going to put some young, intelligent person on your business and that person is going to have your brand and probably 14 other brands and you are going to get about 5-10% of their time,” he explained. “Why not just invest in hiring that person internally and have them work on your business 100% of the time? It is not that much more money than it is to get started up with a great agency. You just have to do a fantastic job of recruiting the right person for the job and then you need to understand how to manage them.”
Bobo’s internalized its Amazon staff earlier in the year before joining the platform’s Emerging Brands Program and after working with consultants for years, McIntyre said. He added since making that decision, the brand’s Amazon business has “achieved tremendous success.”