How Brandless is reimagining modern consumption

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Brandless is “unapologetically a brand,” says co-founder and CEO Tina Sharkey, though the company reimagines what it means to be a brand in today’s rapidly evolving retail environment. On its online platform, Brandless carries everything from applesauce to knives for no more than $3. All products are sustainably manufactured, organic and non-GMO; the paper products are tree-free and the coffee is fair trade. The company also donates a meal to Feeding America for every purchase. “We believe deep in our souls that better doesn't really need to cost more,” Sharkey says.

“A brand today is what a friend tells a friend,” she says. On this episode of Retail Gets Real, learn how Brandless built its unique business model.

Brandless’s core audience is first-time heads of households, who are largely millennials (those born between 1981-1994). Sharkey and her co-founders wanted to build a brand to cater to the needs of these young Americans who want companies to reflect their own values. “They don’t want to use the products they grew up with,” she says.

Tina Sharkey (center) with podcast co-hosts Bill Thorne (right) and PwC’s Steve Barr (left).

Tina Sharkey (center) with podcast co-hosts Bill Thorne (right) and PwC’s Steve Barr (left).

Sharkey’s team focuses on two things — trust and transparency — and everything including products, packaging and marketing is designed to achieve both. For example, the unconventional packaging focuses on product attributes like being cruelty-free and visual elements like label colors. As for building trust and transparency through customer service, “Every day, every Brandless employee writes a thank you note to a customer,” Sharkey says.

Listen to the episode to learn more about how Brandless is “scaling kindness” through its product sourcing, manufacturing and charitable giving.

To learn about more innovative retail concepts and businesses that are thriving in today’s evolving retail climate, don’t miss NRF’s Shop.org conference, September 12-15 in Las Vegas.

Nadee Bandaranayake is an assistant producer on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.