And the fastest-growing premium coffee of 2017 was . . .

And the fastest-growing premium coffee of 2017 was . . .

. . .Cameron’s Coffee. During the first 9 months of 2017, Cameron’s accelerated past the 30 biggest household names in coffee to become the fastest-growing brand. This success follows a well-worn path we observe across fast-growing startups and large brands growing faster than their categories.

1. Who’s The Who?

What has always been true: understanding real issues in real lives is the heart of great marketing. True Botanicals understands women who value natural solutions to everyday skin issues, and precisely where they set the bar on ingredients, sourcing, and quality. Cameron’s mix of ethnography and data gave us precision into the mindset and lifestyle of the coffee person not willing to compromise on lower-priced tub coffee and/or shortcomings of coffee chains’ at home options. A bottom-up location and shopper focus created a household-level depiction of real markets, real zip codes, real lives and real audience numbers to actually attempt to connect with. This top-down/bottom-up combination enabled Cameron’s to spend a relatively limited budget very effectively from a media reach/frequency standpoint, while connecting to their Who genuinely and emotionally.

2. Too Good To Be True Value Prop

Dollar Shave Club didn’t just add a 5th blade. Kind bars weren’t just unique flavors. And Cameron’s isn’t just another high-priced bag made by a coffee shop chain. Cameron’s focuses 100% on at-home coffee brewing. Premium coffee made for you, not for baristas. Pricing lower than the coffee chains, enabled by buying directly from coffee growers, and staying focused on roasting the best coffee for home, not running a chain of expensive coffee shops. Packaging breaks the category conventional white, brown and black with bright red, green and blue – similar to the packaging frame break that worked so well for Angie’s Boomchickapop. Individually these product features and benefits are unique; as a value prop cocktail they are truly striking relative to what’s to the right and left on shelf, and in the audience’s mind.

3. Testing & Learn: Structure over Spaghetti

Small brands benefit from a “leap first” culture, but can also get mired in unclear metrics and mashed up learnings. Following a short sprint to create a brand strategy hypothesis, the brand jumped into testing real content with real people in real time. Marketing and research in one, rather than sequentially. Yet there was a structure to it – A/B splits carved out for audience, messaging, and imagery. The same “let’s leap” approach, with a little discipline, generated individually small learnings that, when stitched together, created the overall sales growth win.  By monitoring the data and content every day, together, improvements and scale were achieved month over month. For example, Cameron’s blue packaging generated more breakthrough in awareness and engagement in digital media than their red or green pantones. More expensive premium video inventory over-delivered frequency and needed to be scaled back. Six-second branded content videos performed better across multiple metrics than thirty second spots. Simultaneous focus on media and creative via weekly optimizations drove high effectiveness in heavy-up markets.

The test and learn formula has proven extremely successful for Cameron’s and will continue to be put in to process as they continue to scale. Small brands should take note, with the right test and learn formula you can take a small town budget and turn into one of the fastest growing brands in the country.