Ugly Drinks

Marco Marandiz
Aug 26 · 4 min read

I’m fascinated by Ugly Drinks! Here we go. Ugly Drinks is not your average D2C company. They’re actually both D2C and D2B2C — yes that’s right. Direct to Business to Consumer — selling to offices, getting into public fridges, building brand equity with employees.

They’re irreverently millennial, leaning hard into their pop art “no bullshit” approach to marketing.

C’mon — the ‘U’ in their logo is also a tongue 😜. It’s subtle, quirky and powerful. Whoever running brand at Ugly knows what they’re doing, and is having fun doing it.

As far as aesthetic, Ugly’s positioned as the anti-“La Croix” (sorry @rrhoover).

They’re targeting the millennial office worker, and it seems like a good choice. I obvi don’t have internal data here, but getting product into Fortune 500 break rooms is gonna be an uphill battle.

Now let’s look closer at how @uglydrinks flexes on content.

This YouTube video is quippy, touches on the zeitgeist of fake news, while still clearly communicating their stance on food & health. It plays more like a movie trailer than a product ad:

Content flex 2💪✌️ Look at their insta. Ugly is GOLDEN with this one. I mean, there’s no better way to build a brand for 90’s kids (a major segment of their target customer) than using memes that they will understand and relate to:

Yes, they have high quality photography (table stakes for d2c in 2019), but that’s not the core value they provide on the IG platform.

They’re social following isn’t huge, but serves as the mechanism for word of mouth acquisition:

✅ 15k on IG Y 5k on FB

✅ 5k on FB

✅ 7K on twitter

❌ Zero on Pinterest: WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENIIIIIING !?!😩

But they don’t even have a profile pic. No pins. No boards.

For highly visual, brand reliant products w/ great photography, Pinterest is king.

— High earners w/ disposable income: HHI > 100k.

— 80%+ of users have made purchasing decisions on the platform.

Even for retargeting campaigns alone, Pinterest can be a windfall. I’m seeing HUGE returns for retargeting alone! All that Ugly swag and millennial magic dust could be sprinkled all over the platform.

Idk how YouTube ads would perform for Ugly, but I think targeting viewers of startup culture videos (Tim Ferriss, Gary Vee etc) would be effective.

Twitter retargeting could also work. It’s where their customers spend their time.

Now to their site. I see solid fundamentals and strong branding. Clear and varied CTAs that are always present.

Custom illustrations can drive big conversion improvements and establish credibility. It makes your company feel real and makes your site feel tailored.

Three big challenges I would be grappling with if I was running growth at Ugly HQ:

  1. Big money competitors — La Croix is the startup office fridge incumbent. Pepsi has @bublywater and they expect to make $100mm this year. Izze is going sugarless. You’ve also got Perrier & Dasani. And @takearecess is entering the space with their own CBD twist.

2. Churn — Ugly’s target audience is millennial office managers at startups. Remind me again, how many startups go out of business every year? That seems like a lot of marketing effort for short LTV customers.

Coworking spaces could be a good hedge against the volatility of startups. Ignoring all the WeWorks, cities w/ 500k+ residents are becoming blossoming coworking hubs. Growing that customer segment could be an interesting way to build brand equity with their members.

3. Wholesale — getting into Whole Foods, Target, etc. We’ve seen the migration of DNVBs into stores. Harry’s was reportedly doing 80% rev in retail if I remember correctly. Shelf space is critically scarce and hard to win. Retailers already have relationships with Bubly (Pepsi).

Marco Marandiz

Written by

DTC Strategist // Consultant at Marandiz & Co., Strategist at 2PM. Ex Product @HomeAway @CapitalOne @CastroPodcasts

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