How has Hint’s DTC Business Differentiated the Brand From the Rest of the Beverage Industry?
First off, we started testing the waters in 2011 long before anyone else in the industry was thinking about selling directly to consumers. My background previous to founding Hint was building out AOL’s e-commerce and shopping channel, so I understood how critical it was to own the relationship with our customers – and be able to control our fate overall as a business.
At launch, drinkhint.com was a pretty bare-bones operation. I even did some of the initial coding for the site myself! Since then, we have continued to iterate and grow our relationship with our customers. It was in March of 2020, when the pandemic became a reality in the U.S., that we really saw how important this channel could be for us. Our retail distribution was experiencing out-of-stocks, and in some cases, mandatory store closures. We reached out to the 1M+ customers in our CRM database, assuring them that Hint would soon be back on the shelves. In the meantime, buying directly from us was an option too. That email received an incredible 80% response rate.
A little over a year later, our DTC business has nearly tripled and the channel accounts for over 50% of Hint’s revenue. Customers are continuing to buy online, and they’re also picking up a case of Hint at their local stores, now that they’re shopping more in person. We’ve found that the two channels reinforce each other, and sales have increased across the board. Meeting consumers however they choose to shop, online or at retail, certainly differentiates us from almost every other major beverage brand out there.