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Gathering Customer Insights With Everly

How doing a little research helped the natural beverage company make a revenue comeback.

Oh, hello, e-commerce friends! Kasia here. For our next What’s in Store adventure, we visited Everly’s headquarters, which are tucked away in a residential area of Nashville. Little do their neighbors know just how successful a business the Everly folks are running from an adorable brick home. The product started as a Kickstarter and is now carried in stores all across the eastern states.

Everly produces natural, sugar-free powdered drink mixes to help you hydrate or energize. The company produces 2 different lines—caffeinated and uncaffeinated—that feature 4 different spunky flavors. It all started when the guys were on a canoe trip and wanted a healthier option than Crystal Light.

“When we launched on Kickstarter in 2013, we thought our target market was young male millennials like us, our packaging should be stick packs like every other drink mix, our primary sales channel would be grocery stores, and our marketing channel would be in-store demos,” says Kyle McCollom, co-founder and CEO. “We were very wrong.”

Here’s how diligently gathering customer insights helped shape Everly:

“A couple years into business, our annual revenue growth was looking very healthy, but the core metrics that signify a healthy product business weren’t adding up, and we did not know why,” says Kyle. “We decided to step back and spend weeks chatting with our best customers on the phone, learning who they are and what their lives were like.”

And so the team read Amazon reviews and randomly called people up, some of whom had spent more than $1,000 on the product, and they realized something: While they were branding Everly for the active weekend adventurer, their real customer was an adult woman taking control of her health and kicking soda, added sugar, and artificial ingredients out of her life, Kyle says.

“Based on those conversations, we changed our whole business.”

And so Everly rebranded to speak to that customer—and her life goals.

“She was using Everly 3-5 times a day, so bulk packaging and pricing made more sense, but she didn’t want to give up on the portability,” Kyle says. “So we put Everly in spouted pouches—a first for drink mixes. She can carry it with her in her bag but still save lots of money.”

Because the spouted pouch is a new format, Everly has to do a lot of education about how to use it, since it has a bit of a learning curve. “Society had to learn how to use canned goods at one point, and we are excited to do that for spouted pouches!” Kyle says.

“So that we could keep learning and changing based on her feedback, we switched our sales focus to online channels and brought formulation and production in-house so we could change Everly within a week instead of over a year,” Kyle says.

But the transition wasn’t easy.

“It was very tough to change everything,” Kyle says. “It went against our nature, what other drink mixes were doing, and what was known to work in the past. It was a risky decision to ignore the impressive revenue growth and focus on improving the less-exciting core metrics. And we are lucky that those metrics are now very healthy and revenue growth is back! Making that gutsy call has been our biggest success so far.”

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