Q&A: How food hacks and giveaways help cultivate an online community with W&P

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Insider Intelligence spoke with Kate Lubenesky, president of W&P, an essential food and beverage brand that sells sustainable packaging for everyday food products. Launched from a Kickstarter campaign 10 years ago, the brand has since gained a following among consumers striving for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Insider Intelligence: How do you carve out a physical presence as a digital native brand?

Kate Lubenesky: As an omnichannel brand, we not only go direct to consumer, but we also partner with many retail partners and other brands that have brick-and-mortar stores, pop-up experiences or cafes.

During COVID, we had to move to D2C, which was a luxury in that it allowed us to focus on just that. This has allowed us to focus on our audience so that as the world opens up again, we have a much deeper connection and a stronger direct presence with consumers than ever before. Now, if customers go to a Nordstrom or an Anthropologie or an independent gift shop, they already know the brand.

II: What obstacles have you encountered when trying to create a community with consumers?

KL: Our biggest hurdle has been not having in-person interactions. As we entered COVID we had many plans for pop-ups and activations and were working with other brands to appear in real life with our customer base and that changed overnight.

One of the fun things we did during COVID was giveaways. Some of our most successful giveaways were during Earth Month – we gave away a free reusable silicone bag with every purchase. Once a consumer has experienced this product, they come back and purchase additional units. It’s important for someone to experience the product in real life, and we couldn’t do that during COVID, so we had to do it virtually by offering or putting products up for sale.

II: How do you use social media to improve your products?

KL: Social media is great because it allows us to have a very direct one-on-one connection. Some of our best inspirations come from our consumers – for example, they freeze leftover coconut milk in an ice cube tray, and everyone goes crazy. We look at these trends and then we can incorporate them into our content, whether we’re reposting from an influencer or looking at TikTok trends.

It’s not just thought leadership on how to make a grain bowl or how to preserve the life of your fruits and vegetables by using a silicone bag and putting it in water, but it’s also watching and listen to our community and ask them how they are doing using the products and what they like about the products which we can then echo back to our community. It’s an exchange rather than shoving content down people’s throats.

II: What is your current TikTok marketing strategy?

KL: With our community, it’s mostly about recipes, sustainability and food tips. TikTok is a newer medium for us, and one of the things we wanted to make sure we were doing was creating content just for TikTok. We didn’t want to take Instagram Reels and force them into TikTok or take snippets of our highly produced videos and put them online. We rely heavily on our community to help us with this platform because it’s super fast, fun, and people spit out a ton of content.

We moved to TikTok a little slower just because it’s a platform that unless you’re native to that platform you can look too much like a corporate brand, which isn’t not our philosophy.

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