From a simple idea to a thriving business, two plant enthusiasts went from making $2000 a year at a flea market to skyrocketing success. It all started with a single TikTok video.
E-commerce brand owners nowadays try to find a problem and then create a solution for the products they are offering on the market. However, when dealing with these types of products, you are addressing a specific level of awareness. Typically, these stores cater to utility-based needs and attract rational buyers. These buyers make conscious decisions, ensuring the necessity of the product and critically evaluating their purchases.
Yet, it looks like the young entrepreneur from California Jared Oliva has chosen a different path.
Recently, Jared was a guest at the Two Ecomm Experts Podcast (a podcast hosted by the founder of Markademics Viktor Stoilov, you can check the episode here), where he told the story about his brand Moss Amigos.
Moss Amigos is a brand that was launched in 2018, the idea was created from Jared’s experience living in Japan for two years, where they put moss balls in jars, which awakened his interest. Telling his friend about it, who was interested in plants as well, they decided to pursue the idea and went from an idea to the flea market in a month.
Now, the brand has grown significantly to over 1 million dollars in lifetime sales with over 750 retail stores nationwide.
The perfect example of growing a brand, without following a traditional path. But how did he do it?
During the podcast episode Jared Oliva revealed his super clever e-commerce approach to making his ads to attract a more humanistic buyer.
Wishing to avoid triggering his buyers with advertisements featuring harsh tones and a stressful atmosphere, he opted to explore alternative approaches.
Being interested in philosophy he happened to come across a polyvagal psychology theory which says that the opposite of a trigger is a glimmer.
Trigger sets your autonomic responses, fight, flight, freeze or fawn, which makes you danger. Whereas, glimmers make people feel safe, calm and curious and in a healthier sage of mind, more ready to buy something without even being told to do so.
So he decided to implement this in ads.
Jared says that what differentiates them from other brands is before starting the business you need to figure out what type of a buyer you want. Moss Amigos target the emotional side of human nature and aim to bring positive emotions. Their main buyers are young American women, 20-30 years old, wanting cute decor and products, which bring them joy.
“Understanding your audience’s safe space is very important, for example one of my ads was taking place in a horse ranch, because of the young women and kids there and the peaceful atmosphere. If you look more deeply at my advertising, first of all, the tone of my pictures is purposely warm, the moss ball is safe, sitting and protected in the jar and he’s wearing a little hat”, with the caption being “this is a unique friend for you”.
However during the Covid-19 pandemic, he ran the risk of encountering a big problem: Stunning the growth of his business in stores. That is why he started posting on TikTok.
“Brands’ TikTok wasn’t going viral, but when influencers started making videos about the products, they went viral immediately.”
He remembers that a particular video of a girl went viral and it broke Moss Amigos’ store, generating a revenue of $60k in a month, which completely sold out their inventory.
That capital gave them the opportunity to buy a proper warehouse and expand the business. It’s a great example of how one video can be very beneficial and can change the whole trajectory of the brand.
Sales increase, yet, as for most novelty brands, customer retention is a big concern.
Asked by the host: “How do you look at retention and what are the challenges and ways to get people to buy again?”
Jared answers by saying it was the main challenge for the brand.
“We have around 12-15% of reorders, however the masterpiece of retention strategy is investing in brand awareness and keeping the brand into the forefront of people’s mind, but I rotate the audiences in ads, not blasting them all the time”.
“…I will come up with the season and we’ll collect a good return on Ad spend on this campaign and when it starts to dip and it is not profitable anymore I make it disappear”
“And later we’ll resurface to that same audience and do two types of campaigns”
He continuous by saying about the two types:
“The first would be for people who saw the ad, but didn’t purchase yet, but later on they will come across and be more likely to buy, because of recommendation they have probably heard”
This kind of reviews are called UGC, user-generated content. UGC creators are people, who have tried different products and are giving their opinions on social media. They are mostly influencers with bigger audiences. This way it is very likely for customers to purchase, because they had probably landed on a similar video online of a person recommending it.
”And the second campaign would be people who have already purchased”
“…We have an ad that is about Moss Amigos family and so, if you purchase one Moss Amigo we display you an ad that shows you the possibilities that you have of having a multiple Moss Amigos and developing it as a hobby…and that folds into our larger retention plan”
“Other plans we have is our care program, Moss care, which is another opportunity to talk to the customer.”
Jared says that another opportunity they have is to circle back to the customers by offering their seasonal items with 10,000 different permutations you can do to those products – 12 gemstones, 36 beanies, 4 hats, other accessories as well as seasonal specials and subscription boxes.
“…This helps buying a second time and building retention, building and having an ad about the Moss Family and building a community.”
Implementing this type of strategy with diverse variations not only contributes to the brand’s prosperity but also reinforces connections. Offering various care programs enhances relationships and facilitates the development of a robust community.
Interestingly, they discovered a distinctive aspect about his brand – the video ads were underperforming, particularly when featuring a person.
This could be attributed to the inherent contrast with the product’s main concept, where the goal is for every individual to observe it and form their own perception.
Whereas, the phenomenon of another person appearing disturbs the message they want to give.
What works for them are the static image ads.
They don’t use the specific placements Facebook suggests. They focus more on feed, editorial shots with the glimmer formula used in their memes as well.
Being intrigued by his amazing path with his unique idea, Viktor the host asked him what is the best advice he would give to people starting an e-commerce business in 2024?
“Advice that I would give for starting an ecomm brand in 2024 is to get a trademark and a sellers permit first. Then just continue and take risks”
Jared says that in terms of advertising and information, he learns the most on TikTok, spending many afternoons there, between 2pm and 3pm, when he experiences an energy dip. He is also encouraging us to read different types of books.
His journey serves as an inspiring blueprint for e-commerce entrepreneurs who want to be different with their ideas, providing not only problem solving products, but also products that are helping you on an emotional level as well.