Are you starved for a brand that prioritizes transparency and a healthier lifestyle? Get ready to feast on an insightful conversation with Libby Pigg, the Chief Marketing Officer at 'That's It'. Libby walks us through her fascinating journey from being an 18-year veteran of Edelman Public Relations to leading a trailblazing health-food brand. Hear firsthand about how That's It's founder, Dr. Lior Lewensztain, flipped the script from prescriptive medicine to using food as a healing tool, a concept that turned a farmers market stall into a global brand.
We also turn the spotlight on the critical issue of food allergies. Libby shares on how That's It's partnership with FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) is reshaping purchase decisions in American households. Discover their ingenious strategies to gather customer feedback and how they are redefining flavor choices. Join us as Libby throws some light on the surprising insights they've gleaned from their consumers, and how they're subtly changing American palates to appreciate the real taste of fruit. Tune in for a conversation that promises a blend of marketing insights, entrepreneurial spirit, and a commitment towards healthier living.
Welcome to Lost in the Supermarket. Libby Pigg is the Chief Marketing Officer at That's It, where she leads all aspects of the company's marketing and communication efforts. Prior to that's it, Libby is an 18-year veteran of Edelman Public Relations, where I first met her when she started the social and paid media practice and oversaw the digital businesses for clients including Ben and Jerry's, Conagra American Heart Association. Tell us the story of how That's It became one of the leading emerging brands.Libby:
Sure. Thank you so much for having me, Phil. I appreciate it. Yeah, so our founder and CEO, Dr Lior Lewensztain, was actually studying to become a medical doctor when he learned that only a third of Americans get their daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and he thought to himself actually, today, it's much worse. It's something like one in ten, unfortunately. So we have a lot of work to do. So Lior thought what if he could help more people on mass scale using food as medicine which is a term that not many people were using 11 years ago and help people down the line, preventing them from having to take prescriptive medicine? So he did a complete career, pivot, went to business school, launched That's It in farmers markets in Los Angeles in 2012, and today we're in thousands of stores across the globe, and the rest is history.Phil:
So the interesting thing about it is that here was a doctor who had no business experience, no food business experience, and just had this passion to be able to help people, and it's really one of the great success stories, especially in the category that you're playing in and especially these days when, as you point out, everybody is searching for this food as medicine, magic bullet and you guys came up with it 11 years ago.Libby:
Right, yeah, I think we were ahead of the curve back then. But look at today. Everybody's reading labels now and they're not just looking at something that says all natural or healthy, they're looking at the front of the package and they're looking at the back of the package and it's really cool that our ingredients on the front have always matched the back and they always well.Phil:
Yeah, because there's some other bars out there that list some ingredients on the front and that's what you think is in the product. Then you turn it around and it's two or three times the amount of ingredients. So I think to your point. Consumers are looking for more transparency today than ever before, and also they're rewarding brands that are transparent and those that are trying to get away with something and consumers just aren't gonna buy them. Now, on a personal level, you worked for one of the biggest PR firms in the world, and then you went to an emerging brand. What was that like?Libby:
You know it was interesting. I think it was all about timing. When I talk to my peers, I feel like there's a point in an agency person's career. By the way, I don't know anybody that actually retires at an agency at all. It lets the last name is associated with the agency, of course, but you know, I really had this desire to go deep and learn a brand inside and out, rather than knowing a little bit about a lot of brands. So I started That's It in June of 2020, which was a very interesting time because we're in the thick of the pandemic I'm working for a grocery product when nobody is grocery shopping so I saw this as a really cool opportunity to lean into my digital experience and see a big runaway for things like our website sales. Social shopping was really taking off with TikTok and Instagram, the Amazons of the world, digital retail, and the list goes on and on. Thrive, market Proger 8451. So there was all these opportunities for us to build our business when people were at home and looking for really healthy options in their diet, because they didn't have many options.Phil:
So when I look at that sit and having tasted the bars as well as some of the other newer products that are out there, I'm gonna ask a silly question, because I think that the target market, the target consumer for these products should be everyone, but put on your marketing hat and who is your core consumer? That goes beyond what we would normally expect it to be.Libby:
Sure. So what? Who you think our core consumer is is who our CEO would say our core consumer is, and I'll get into that in a second. But our core buyer is no surprise. It's that active, health-conscious millennial mom with multiple kids that's on the go. Their kids might not eat an apple in their lunchbox, but they will eat a bar or a real fruit snack that's in a package because it looks nice. So that's our core buyer, but at the end of the day it is just fruit. So our product haters to the toddler that can't yet really is cutting teeth, to the elderly person that can no longer bite into an apple, and everything in between, anyone that has a dietary restriction. A lot of people maintain their blood sugar, people that are diabetics, we're gluten-free, we're paleo, we're kosher, so really everybody is our core consumer. So you're right.Phil:
So I'm looking at something you said about the importance of people who are on restricted diets, whether it be diabetes or gluten-free or whatever. What about allergies? How important is the food allergy audience to That's It.Libby:
Very important to us. We actually have partnered with FAIR, which is the Food Allergy Research and Education Organization. They're a big partner of ours and they did a study in 2020 that one in four American households make a purchase decision based on food allergies. That equates to one in eight kids have a food allergy and it's on the rise. That's about two in every classroom right now. So all of our products are free of, we say, the top 12 allergens, the top nine recognized FDA allergens, and even our dark chocolate vegan truffles are free of those allergens. It's very important to us. I'm really excited we actually have a new product that is out now at Costco and our website, namazon, called Spooky Fruit Bites, and it is our very first seasonal Halloween solution. That is basically our fruit bars, but in a fun sized version, and mango and banana. Because why do we care about this? Because anaphylaxis is at the very highest during Halloween, which is something that I would have never known if I didn't work at that site. So we're very excited to provide that solution and, by the way, we never intended to be an allergy product, we just happen to be. So we wanna make sure that we can get into as many hands as possible for those that do suffer from allergies and intolerances too.Phil:
So you mentioned mango, and what that triggers for me is how do you develop what flavors you're gonna come out with? Is it that you're looking at trends? Is it you're talking to consumers? Is it just you and Leor sitting around saying, hey, let's do this one? Tell me about that process a little bit.Libby:
Yeah, it's a little bit of all of that. We stay on top of what the trends are. Social is a big part of everything that we do, so we listen to the conversations that are happening on our Instagram channel. We also launched recently a Discord channel for our super fans, where we ask them questions about what they're looking for and we take their advice and we apply it back to the product. We also use a real-time insights tool called SUSE that helps us decide what combinations are coming next. But who doesn't like mango Phil?Phil:
I'm not a big mango fan, to be honest with you, really, really not a mango fan. Okay, but when you look at those consumer comments that you're getting, are there any insights that you never would have thought of if it didn't come from a consumer?Libby:
We get some surprising insights when we're looking at whether it's on our social or customer service. We get a lot of emails from customer service these days and some of the feedback really surprises us. Probably one of the biggest ones for us is people write in and say our banana bars taste too much like bananas, and what that says to me is that we're so pre-programmed to what an artificial banana taste is. You could probably imagine in your head what the Jolly Rancher starbursts of the world are like, and so people aren't used to what real fruit without added sugar and juices taste like. So you know that teaches us a lot about the palette of American households.Phil:
So what you're doing is not only giving people a healthy, great tasting snack, but also you're reprogramming our taste buds to what food is really supposed to taste like.Libby:
Exactly, Exactly. The simplicity of ingredients. People are expecting these complex, larger than life, you know smells and flavors that are really perfumes and under the bucket of natural flavors, which nobody really knows what they are.Phil:
That's a great insight. You're on the advisory board for hashtag foodnotphones, which is right around the corner on September 19th. Why are you participating and why should other people care?Libby:
Sure, so thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of that. I'm super excited about it. Foodnotphones, september 19th. It was already obvious to me that putting your phone down during meal time is a respectable, respectful, courteous thing to do. It obviously builds connection with other people, right. What I had no idea about is that the surgeon general issued an advisory that there's an epidemic of loneliness and isolation, and being on your cell phone all the time, especially during meal time, is a contributing factor to that. So you know that blew my mind, and then I started thinking about this vacation that I went on with my mom about 14 years ago on a cruise ship, and this is back when the internet wasn't so reliable and wasn't so affordable. So we opted not to have it during our cruise ship and I always had my phone out during mealtime with my mom, not to be rude, but we played trivia, you know, like guess how old this actor is or what city this was in, and when I didn't have the opportunity to have my phone out, we just had to have a conversation from our minds and our hearts. And, looking back now, those are some conversations that I remember more than any other. So this year we're gonna be creating some really fun content on our channels, and when it's mealtime we're saying that's it, phones down.Phil:
Very cool very cool. So now look in your crystal ball. What's on the horizon for That's It?Libby:
All kinds of stuff. I mean I would say sky's the limit. But we already got on United Airlines this past spring with our mango mini bars your favorite. But we actually have a lot of new distribution that's happening in the next two months and we have about five new products coming out by the end of this year. They all I can tell you right now is that they are fruit forward, they have five ingredients or less and they might be getting into the functional space a little bit.Phil:
Well, because you know the buzzwords now gut health, brain health, just everything, health. So bringing it to that next level is fabulous. Well, Libby, thanks so much for adding your insights and telling us more about That's it on Lost in the Supermarket.Libby:
Thank you so much for having me. I'll see you next time.