Well Made

Chris Kirby, Ithaca Hummus: Making it onto the grocery list – Well Made E125

August 12, 2020 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

Five months into a pandemic, going to the grocery store requires much more than a reusable tote. You're probably suiting up with a mask, hand sanitizer, and a grocery list to make sure that you're in and out as quickly as possible.

Ithaca Hummus can only be found in grocery stores but the founder, Chris Kirby, built the brand to be flexible so they could adapt to times like these. He's always been focused on making sustainable, scalable choices for the business, and that hasn't changed in the pandemic.

On this episode, Chris talks about how the packaging challenges of DTC made them focus their efforts on brick-and-mortar grocery, his biggest takeaways from being part of the Chobani incubator, and how they've had to shift their strategies to adapt to the new expectations of shoppers entering grocery stores.

“If you're looking at starting a brand that's going to be sold in retail today, how do you align your brand with the experiences that retailers want to give the customers that are shopping in their store?”

 Chris Kirby, Ithaca Hummus: Making it onto the grocery list – Well Made E125
 Chris Kirby, Ithaca Hummus: Making it onto the grocery list – Well Made E125

In this episode, Chris and Stephan dive right into why, in an ecommerce boom, Ithaca Hummus is only sold in retail (1:19). With delivery companies like Shipt and Instacart, selling in brick-and-mortar grocery presents new opportunities and challenges (3:48). Chris talks about how COVID-19 has caused them to shift their marketing spend from new customers to returning customers and how crucial packaging is on a busy grocery shelf (6:52).

Before the pandemic, retail was right in the midst of a transition with its role shifting from transactional to experiential. Chris is still excited about what's to come and talks about how brands can adapt to the experiential nature of retail and appeal to buyers and shoppers (14:53). He talks about Amazon's Whole Foods acquisition and the beginnings of retail as a platform (14:53).

Chris got a lot of insight and guidance from being part of Chobani's incubator. He shares his biggest takeaways from his time in the incubator, what it is about Chobani that drove him to write letters to founder Hamdi Ulukaya, and how the brand continues to stand out as a human company amongst shelves of conglomerates (22:43). Finally, Chris and Stephan talk about how the zeitgeist leads to diet trends and design trends. There are risks to fitting in and risks to standing out, but some universal truths that seem to stand the test of time ( 33:35).

Also mentioned on the show:

You can find this and all future episodes here on the Lumi blog, and anywhere you listen to podcasts. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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