written by: Lin Pei Shan, Bay

Shopping groceries online? It sounds weird. Yet surprisingly, Thrive Market, an “online” grocery shop, has found its way to survive the competitive grocery retail market in the US without selling any perishables.

A start-up selling healthy groceries online
Thrive Market is an online grocery shop aiming at “make healthy living affordable and accessible to everybody.” It charges each customer a membership fee of $60 per year and promises to provide “Whole Food (organic) products at Costco price.”

Less than two years after launch, Thrive Market already reached $120 million in annual revenue, with over 300,000 memberships. Apart from the successful business model and branding, what is worth discussing here is their content marketing strategy.

Thrive Market use social media as their major channel to accomplish three objectives:

1) Reach out to target audience;
2) Product demonstration and call for action (sales) in one go;
3) Brand building by escalating customer engagement

Reaching out to target audience through KOLs
Thrive Market didn’t reach their customers by themselves but by KOLs on social media. Consumer insights shared by Thrive Market’s potential customers.

1. They want to live healthy and eat healthily.
2. They couldn’t afford pricey organic foods.
3. They search for advice/guidance for living healthy from social media.

The health or vegan Youtubers are where the potential consumers will go to look for advice.

Product demonstration and call for action (sales) in one go
The co-opted mechanism with YouTubers/KOLs is simple. Thrive Market asked the Youtubers to come up with (content) healthy recipes and cook with its product, mainly coconut oil or almond butter, which are Thrive Market’s private label products. In the beginning of those videos, every Youtuber will introduce the Thrive Market with the slogan “selling Whole Food product at Costco price.”

At the end, they were also required to say “leave your comment below for a chance to have a free-30-day trial of Thrive Market membership and a Thrive Market product.” For every paid membership applied, Thrive Market will donate a free membership to a low-income family, teacher, veteran, or student.

Brand building by escalating customer engagement
The YouTubers are web-lebrities to their followers, their endorsements are important to trigger purchase actions. The encouragement of interaction motivates potential customers to try out Thrive Market products. The membership donation helps to convey brand values that are more social than commercially oriented.

Once potential customers decided to get to know more about Thrive Market’s branded products and visit the website, an abundance of healthy recipes, products categorized by diet habits, will be there to attract more eyeball and surfing. Thrive Market is cautiously building its brand exclusively to the health lifestyle followers of the internet community, which is growing at an ever-increasing pace.

Gunnar Lovelace, the co-CEO of Thrive Market, said, “The brands that we build have to flex for the channel that they’re in. To the extent that we can understand the voices of people who’ve already built their audience…it gives us a lot of power.” Thrive Market has proved that content marketing is no longer a piece of puzzle in a campaign but able to carry the whole picture.