What Natural Products Brands Can Learn From Our Summer Reads

We’re an office of readers at Pure Branding. Whether on the beach or hiding out from the heat in the A/C, we’re spending our summer with books. And no matter what the subject matter, we keep finding lessons for our natural products brands.

Kim Hutt, Senior Account Manager

Recent read: The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy In A Store. Personal finance-turned-mindful living blogger Cait Flanders’ memoir reflects on her yearlong ‘no buy’ experiment. After paying down $30,000 in credit card debt, Flanders’ implemented a shopping ban to combat her compulsive spending behavior. Each chapter covers a month within that year and documents the money saved and her changing relationship with the things she owns, along with life changes like breakups, family divorces, and career pivots.

Lesson for brands: While Flanders’ memoir is a singular data point, she’s part of a larger segment or persona of consumers who are focused on more mindful living, spending, and consuming (other examples in the cultural landscape include the zero waste movement, popularity of Marie Kondo’s The Life Shaping Magic of Tidying Up, and the documentarians/podcasters/bloggers The Minimalists). Natural products brands will have to demonstrate their essentialism in order to make the cut as the mindful consumer edits their life, their home, and their intake.

For supplement brands, digitally native newcomer Ritual may be the example to look to – with language focusing on simple supplementation through reinvention of the multivitamin, and a subscription-based model. ‘Everything you need, nothing you don’t,’ Ritual promises. What Marie Kondo devotee wouldn’t resonate with that?

Emily Eno, Assistant Project Manager

Recent read: After hearing the author interviewed on NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast, I picked up Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker and really enjoyed it. It’s a deep dive into sleep, its functionality, importance, and necessity. While writing about sleep might feel overdone (tired?) and obvious, Walker is deft at presenting the science and his research with compelling anecdotes and advice. He addresses our extremely long-standing and vast misconceptions of sleep over several chapters that span topics of age, illness, dreaming, and others. I’ve been sleeping for a long time but learned a lot from this book and have been recommending it to everyone!     

Lesson for brands: Walker iterates that sleep is not something that one is able to skimp on — a lack of it is the root of many, many health problems and of course, most of us find it difficult to prioritize a good night’s rest. Thus, there’s a heavy focus on sleep needs in the supplement world, but a lack of messaging around how to develop truly sound sleep habits. Brands can do a world of good for their consumers by stressing the importance of marrying a robust nighttime routine with their supplement taking. The breadth of issues that arise from even one night of insufficient sleep are truly shocking.

We also couldn’t help but notice there’s a deeper idea wrapped up in this as well — there’s extreme value in taking the time to examine your own foundational health, especially as a brand.  It’s easy to get lost in a muck of details instead of ensuring the cornerstones of your identity and messaging are clear by having an unclouded brand strategy, voice, and messaging.

Peter Littell, Marketing & Research Director

Recent read: My summer read was “A Gentleman From Moscow,” by Amor Towles. It is the story of Russian Count Alexander Rostov, who is sentenced by the Communist Party in 1922 to permanent house arrest at the luxurious Hotel Metropole in Moscow. If he leaves the hotel, he will be shot. For the next 30 plus years, Count Rostov, who never worked a day in his life before his house arrest, finds a way to live and succeed in the hotel during the most tumultuous decades of Russian history.

Lesson for brands: Many natural supplement and personal care brands know that they have a target market, but are tempted to reach for the bigger market since that is where the dollars appear to be. But they would be wise to listen to how Count Rostov worked his market masterfully.

The broad market is Russia. The target market is the Hotel Metropole. The brand is Count Rostov. The brand’s goal is first to master the target market, and then influence the broader market.

To begin with, Rostov focused on learning all there was to learn about his target market, the hotel and its clientele. He was careful to conduct in-depth research on every participant: from the employees to the guests. Through charm, elegance, and empathy, he identified needs, anticipated next moves and provided solutions.

As years went on he grew in influence. He climbed the ladder to be the hotel’s head waiter, but more significantly his brand grew in influence. He became confidant to many of the hotel’s international guests, and thus he created many “ambassadors” to his brand, who in turn promoted his brand to the bigger market outside.

When it was time to introduce his brand to the bigger market, his brand center was clear, his network was in place, and his marketing communication was well received.

In fact, if you’re looking for brand advice, you would do well to ask the question, “What would Count Rostov do or say?”