Jessie Teitz Becker, the SVP Marketing at Impossible Foods, brings her impressive marketing knowledge and expertise in forming long term recurring revenue relationships to Subscription Stories. She joins Robbie to discuss how Impossible is applying principles learned at subscription companies like Netflix, YouTube and Optimizely, best practices in introducing & building habits with a new product category, and why they launched an “every day” product at special occasion restaurant Momofuku.
2:17 – The birth of Impossible Foods
4:24 – How Impossible earned its credibility through the famous restaurant empire, Momofuku
6:21 – Why the product, and not the marketing, is the key to creating repeating consumer habits
9:25 – How to build customer loyalty through an “easy out”
12:00 – Impossible Foods’ key to restaurant success: ensuring every employee gets a taste of their meat
15:33 – The milestones and metrics Impossible looks for
18:38 – How COVID rocked the food industry – and what Impossible did to battle it
21:03 – Why Impossible Foods made the jump to direct-to-consumer shipping
23:50 – What Impossible Foods learned from launching their own ecommerce direct to consumer
26:36- The magic of free shipping
29:10 – The ideal Impossible customer
32:45 – Impossible Foods’ loyalty program Taste Place, and how Impossible is building their Forever Transaction
39:26 – Robbie’s Speed Round
Robbie Baxter [00:00:00] For context, this interview was recorded in July of 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robbie Baxter [00:00:11] We all want a business like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Businesses where once a customer engages with them, it becomes automatic and a part of their lifestyle from then on. But how do you build that Forever Transaction? I’m Robbie Kellman Baxter and I have been studying subscription and membership models for nearly 20 years. In this podcast, my guests and I share the secrets and strategies of the Membership Economy. Join us for Subscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches. Welcome to the show. It’s Robbie Kellman Baxter, the host of subscription stories and I’m very excited about our guest. I first met Jessie Teitz Becker many years ago when I was a consultant doing a series of projects at Netflix. It was actually Netflix that first inspired me to study subscription and membership models and where I first observed what I came to call the Membership Economy. Jessie eventually rose to Interim Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix and was part of many of the key decisions that made Netflix such a groundbreaking and widely emulated company. After leaving Netflix, she continued her work building Forever Transactions in a wide range of industries and companies. Some of these include being Chief Marketing Officer at B2B software-as-a-service (SaaS) company Optimizely, and she also built subscriptions for YouTube alongside their powerful advertising model. Since October of 2019, Jessie has been Senior Vice President of Marketing at Impossible Foods, where she brings her expertize in forming long term recurring revenue relationships to yet another industry. Jessie, thank you so much for joining me today. I know you have a lot to share with our listeners.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:02:08] Great. I’m so glad to be here, Robbie.
Robbie Baxter [00:02:10] I’m really interested in the launch story of Impossible Foods. Can you share it with our listeners?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:02:17] Yeah, it’s such a fun story. You know, Impossible is on a mission to make meat made from plants that the whole world will eat and replace meat made from animals. And the reason for that is purely that meat made from animals is destroying our planet. And in order to keep our planet a planet that is compatible with human life, we need to switch to meat made from plants. But we also know that all of us care deeply about food. It’s a super emotional experience. It’s a joy of life. And we want people to choose this product because it is a joy to eat. And so the biggest challenge we could put in front of ourselves is how do we create a product that is so good that the most famous meat centered chefs like David Chang at Momofuku will want to serve this product. And that was the breakthrough of, you know, every food that has been made from plants before has been presented as a compromise to the taste experience. And Impossible thinks about this journey completely differently. We think that this is equal to, if not better than the traditional meat experience that consumers love. And so by bringing it first to the very high end restaurants where meat is a center of that food experience, we’re putting our stake in the ground, so to speak, of exactly where we want to be. This is an incredibly delicious product. It’s the thing you will choose to eat because it’s delicious, not because it’s a compromise.
Robbie Baxter [00:03:48] So you decided as part of this launch to have that initial trial experience, that first taste. I always talk about a trial being a taste of the most delicious thing you have. And this is like the literal version of the most, you know, the most delicious way that your delicious product could be prepared, as a way of introducing it. And as the very first step of establishing an ongoing habit with consumers and maybe also with the restaurateurs themselves.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:04:24] That’s right. I mean, the credibility that comes from starting with David Chang at Momofuku is wow, if that’s a good experience for David Chang, that he’s willing to put this in front of his customers in his restaurant, then there’s no reason this can’t go to every single person in the world and every single restaurant in the world. And that’s where we start. We come in talking to consumers and talking to restaurants and grocery stores about how people are going to want to have this because it’s delicious. We’re not saying, well, it’s not quite as good, but it has all these other benefits. We’re saying it’s as good and in some ways even better. I think it’s very similar to what you see with what Tesla has done very successfully with cars, where for a long time people thought, well, a car that runs on electricity instead of on gas will be a compromise. It won’t go very fast. And Tesla turned that on its head and said, actually, we can make it be incredibly fast and fun to drive. And it becomes a powerhouse. And so I see a lot of similarities in how we think about Impossible as a product where it is. It’s not a compromise. It’s an advantage.
Robbie Baxter [00:05:37] Yeah. So people have a great experience at Momofuku. And I know that you have been into something like seventeen thousand restaurants at this point. It’s been a really important part of your launch strategy and your habit formation strategy. But, you know, something that I wonder is that kind of a trial experience doesn’t necessarily result in making something a habit. I mean, I don’t think that that many people make going to Momofuku a habit. So what are the steps that you’re taking to bridge the gap from a trial, a taste of something delicious to making it a habit, part of someone’s regular life?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:06:21] Yeah, and that’s that’s the big change between a subscription model and subscription thinking in a transactional model, which I find super fun. I think for me, the commonality is going from trial to I want to make this product part of my life. The key driver there is always the product. Marketing can get you through lots of awareness and can get you to try something the first time. But the only thing that can keep you repeating is that product. And so whether that’s, you know, the Netflix experience of having every piece of content you absolutely want at your fingertips on your TV or whether it’s Impossible saying, like, I now want to switch all of my beef meals over to Impossible. It has to be about that product and the marketing only serves as a reminder of all the goodness. But you have to first invest in that product. So I think that’s been really important for us from the starting days of Momofuku all the way through all of our restaurant partners, including Burger King and Starbucks, and now across the nation in grocery stores. We feel incredibly confident that if we can get people to take that first trial, they’re going to want to come back. And that’s the only kind of place I want to do marketing is where I have that confidence and where we see that borne out in the data. Every time we talk to consumers, they’re like, wow, that blew away my expectations and their intention to come back and repeat, and their actual repeat behavior is incredibly hot.
Robbie Baxter [00:07:52] Yeah, it’s interesting. You know, in the world of subscriptions, somebody told me that the difference between a subscription or repeating product that you want to behave like a subscription and a purely transactional one is that when you have an ongoing relationship, they actually have to like the product. So for all of you marketers out there that are thinking about working with any business, you know, a subscription business or a business that relies on making the product into an ongoing habit in order to have the model work, make sure that the product itself is going to drive engagement, that people are going to like it because in the Membership Economy, that moment of first transaction is the starting line and not the finish line for the relationship. So it’s really important that you have confidence that if someone tries it, you know what they’re going to do next, which is actually something that, you know, Jessie, I first met you many, many years ago at Netflix and one of the things that so impressed me there was the confidence that you had that if somebody tried it, not only would they like it, but they would, the way that the product was designed and the value of the product, they would make it a habit.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:09:12] Yeah. And I think that was really a foundational piece for me as well in forming my belief that not only is that a nice to have, it is a must have and it really influences how the company moves as well. When we started Netflix in the early days and you know, that was the days of people still had AOL and I and anyone who remembers trying to cancel AOL, it was painful, right? They they made it hard. They made it difficult. They’d try to convince you to stay. There was everything. It was everything that made it a bad experience. And Netflix followed that at first, like they did in the very beginning days. Netflix did a similar thing like, oh, let’s make sure that they have to talk to a customer rep because maybe we can save them. And instead, what we found and it was a massive leap of faith, that sense of like, wow, the spreadsheet says this seems like a bad idea. But all our instincts say this is the right thing to do is we made it easy to cancel. And what was great about that is that it gave us a very clear signal of when the product was working for people or not. Because what we found and what everyone should know, of course, is if the product is great, they’re not going to cancel. And if they do want to cancel, it might not even be about you, let them feel good about the exit so that hopefully they come back. And that’s what we saw over time as first of all, people built an incredible level of trust with Netflix because of that, because they’re like, oh, I actually can leave any time and they’ll welcome me back. And then we started to see lots more people come back and have incredible loyalty for the brand. And so I think of that really on any business I work on now, is that that’s the ultimate measure of how good a product and how good a experience you’re delivering is if you trust them to make their own decision about when they’re ready to leave and when they’re ready to come back. That’s your best measure of whether you’re succeeding.
Robbie Baxter [00:11:04] Yeah. And it’s such a good point about that clear signal that, you know, you have this high confidence level about how they feel about the product because you’re giving them the freedom to leave. And this is not a subscription business at this point. But you’re relying on the consumer to come back and you’re relying on the restaurant to keep cooking with your products. Metrics do you use. Maybe we can talk about the restaurant side first. What are your metrics you use to tell if it’s engaging? If the restaurant is getting the results that they’d hoped for, the promise of your sales team, that this is going to be both delicious and appealing to consumers and help them feel better and all the good things that a partnership with Impossible would do. What are the metrics that you look for to tell if that’s working for the customer?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:11:59] It’s been super interesting thinking about that because it really is an individual sale process for each of those restaurants. And what I think about is really we’re converting them as Impossible consumers so that they can then carry that story to their customers. So one of the first things that we try to make sure is that everyone in the restaurant has actually tasted the product themselves. For example, when we recently launched with Starbucks, we have a new Starbucks Impossible breakfast sandwich with our sausage made from plants, which is delicious. And from day one, we talked with Starbucks about how do we make sure that every single partner in the Starbucks working in a Starbucks has had a chance to try it. And so when they launched and we went into I went into Starbucks and started asking people like, hey, what’s the sandwich and how do you think about it? And you could tell very quickly that people who had tried it were passionate, were able to answer all the questions about it, and also knew what they didn’t know about it. They’re like, oh, I don’t know. But I can find out for you versus the people who are like, I don’t know it’s kind of that new menu item I haven’t really learned about. So that’s an example at scale where we see the the importance of them having tried it. But we think about that with every single small restaurant owner as well. You know, a huge part of the American economy is tied up in small restaurants, restaurants that have maybe one location, maybe up to five locations. And it’s the same thing with them where first making sure that they have tried the product. And, you know, the moment we know that we have a winning combination is that moment when they’re like, are you sure you gave me the right thing? I think that’s kind of the trigger of are you sure you gave me the right thing? Because this really tastes like meat. And then from there, we can talk to them about how do you convey that to your customers? How do you put it into an appetizer special like make meatballs with it so that it’s a small bite that people can try?
Robbie Baxter [00:13:53] Let me just jump in. So are you, let’s say with with Starbucks or I know Burger King is another one that you have a really strong partnership with. Do you track, is there a way to track whether all of the employees have or partners have tasted a product?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:14:12] No. No, but we do build it into our program where it’s part of building the program in partnership with a Starbucks and with a Burger King to make sure that they have made plans to get product into everyone’s mouth. And as they onboard new employees, new partners, that each of them gets a taste of it. So we can’t measure it at scale, but it is something that we put into the onboarding plans.
Robbie Baxter [00:14:42] Got it. And what are the metrics when you work with a big company or a small company? How do you tell if it’s working? So, you know, you come in. You get everybody to taste it. People love it. Lots of enthusiasm. But, you know, enthusiasm has a half life. There are you know, they move on to the next shiny object or the next thing that their boss tells them to pay attention to, you know, saying thank you very much. Would you like fries with that? Whatever, whatever it is. How do you track to see if what’s happening in those relationships is what you need to happen to build that really powerful, ongoing relationship that’s going to drive the overall value of any particular account? I mean, I know you’re such an analytical person. What are you looking at? What are you curious about?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:15:33] Yeah. So some of the milestones we’re looking for. I would say one is, are they running it as a special or have they put it on their menu? Have they printed it on their menu? Is it permanent? That is probably our biggest signal of initial adoption is yes I’ve put it on the menu. It is printed. I don’t print my menus every week. I probably print them every three to six months. So I’m committed to keeping this on for a while. That’s a big piece of it. And then I would say the other thing we do is that we offer support point of sale materials for restaurants, so little flags, Impossible flags that they can put in their burgers. One, it helps them distinguish like, is this a meat burger, an animal meat burger? Is this Impossible burger? And two, it’s a way for us to have our branding carry through to the consumer. So we offer that free to restaurants and we’re able to see which restaurants have ordered those. And are they reordering it? So we know that they’re starting to go through those. And then I’d say the last piece is, really, we try to build individual relationships with them as well, where we’re bringing them into our social and promoting them. A local example is Gott’s so many of you in the Bay Area, know Gott’s Burgers, and they have Impossible in their stores and we run marketing campaigns in conjunction with them. So that co-marketing is another big signal. It’s interesting because the data that we would want, of course, is like, hey, what’s your daily sales and what percent of your burgers sold are Impossible. But we find that’s actually really difficult to get to because of the way food distribution works. And so that’s been the biggest change for me as a marketer, is finding ways to run these kind of programs that are designed around an end to end experience and knowing that you’re supporting them at every step of the way. But without having data feedback at every point on the journey, because that’s just how food is sold. We sell it to a central distributor who sells it to a Sysco, who sells it into a restaurant. And so part of our job is even knowing which restaurants carry Impossible.
Robbie Baxter [00:17:36] Yeah, it’s so interesting. All of the layers. And when you when you move beyond a digital subscription business, suddenly there’s all kinds of layers. And a big reason that organizations move to subscription direct to the end consumer is to bypass all of those layers that make it hard to get the you know, that what you talked about this I give a clear signal from the customer, which is so valuable in optimizing your model and planning for the future. Something I wanted to ask you about. You know, you launched with all of these restaurants makes great sense. Build trial and thinking about those restaurants as members that you have kind of an ongoing relationship with a forever promise to. But the end consumer you know, I’m thinking specifically about, you know, as all this was happening, COVID happened resulting in, you know, a lot of restaurants being closed, consumer behavior changing dramatically. Can you just bring me back to the moment when it occurred to you that people were not going to be going to restaurants for a while?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:18:45] Oh, gosh. Yeah, it was heartbreaking. I would say first and foremost, I mean, these are restaurants who have been part of the Impossible family for years. Well, how can we help these folks? How can we help them pivot to save their businesses? And so very quickly, as you saw across the restaurant industry, people started pivoting to takeout and selling from their kitchens. And we worked very quickly with our team internally to empower our restaurant partners to sell their food service product direct to consumers, which hadn’t been possible before. And so that was really fun for the team to be able to take all that anxious energy about what’s going on with COVID, you know, our personal lives are all disrupted, our businesses are disrupted. How can we funnel that into something positive? And that turned into how do we help all of these restaurants quickly get their products out to consumers? And so we created marketing programs for them. We created social toolkits for them. We also created a rebate program for them to help them subsidize the purchase in the short term. And then the last thing we did was really accelerate the ways that we get into consumers hands directly. And that came in two forms. One is we already we’re working to get into grocery stores faster. I mean, if you remember, back in April, all of us were like, oh, my gosh, the shelves are empty. Like there’s no flour anywhere. Does anybody have yeast? But part of that was also the first meat shortage on grocery shelves that anyone had seen since World War Two. And suddenly these grocery stores that we had been talking to about rolling out sometime during the year became a can you deliver meat to us tomorrow? And how do we get there and how do we get there quickly? And it was both a real call to arms inside the company of how do we manufacture this faster than we were planning on? How do we get it to them? It was also an adjustment for us as a marketing rhythm, because our traditional way to roll out in retail is, you know, very well planned ahead of time. A lot of signage, a lot of awareness building ahead of time. And we had to flip that on its head and just say, just get the meat on shelf and we’ll add the marketing back in later, because the need right now is meat on shelf. So that was super interesting to go through. And now grocery stores have kind of stabilized again and everybody feels more confident that they can find the products they need, which is good. And then the last piece we did is we actually turned on our own shipping direct to consumers, which is something we had been talking about. I would say it was kind of the recurring topic every two months. Should we do it? Should we do it? And it was always a gosh, it’s a lot of work to get set up an unknown upside. Is it worth the investment? And this moment of disruption became the point of we don’t know, but we’re going to go find out because this is one thing we can do to keep things moving forward. And it’s been a big success. And back to your point of subscription. It’s the closest we have to full data all the way through.
Robbie Baxter [00:21:42] When there were the discussions about should we or shouldn’t we, moving forward with the direct to consumer e-commerce piece, when that should we shouldn’t we conversation was happening, where were you on that continuum or what were your kind of thoughts, pros and cons, especially coming out of a digital pedigree.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:21:58] Yeah. So pre-COVID I was definitely in the camp of we should, but it’s not urgent. So it’s important but not urgent. And one important because it was a way for us to expand our distribution. But honestly, what was more intriguing to me was the ability to have that data points at every point of the process. Like, how do I know what message not only get somebody to click through to come to a website, but actually gets them to buy the product. And then can I survey them after the fact about what their experience is and I can learn when they come back and want to buy more or or not. So just as a testing and learning platform, it was really intriguing from that, but never quite enough to say, let’s divert the resources right now. And that’s what COVID brought, was that ability to say no, now is the right time to place some bets and let’s divert the resources. And what was amazing was we were able to get it up in eight weeks. So to get frozen product shipping across the U.S. in eight weeks is pretty stunning. I’m still kind of amazed that we got it done. And it’s been a great experience. And it was really also, you know, in times like this when when things are so uncertain, it’s great for teams to have a project to rally around that is super positive. There’s only positivity associated with it. And that’s what this has been for our team, too, is really a chance to come together, try something new and see the positive business results really quickly.
Robbie Baxter [00:23:29] Can you share a story about something that you’ve learned in the time since you’ve launched the e-commerce direct business, maybe something that surprised the team or an experiment that you did that you were really curious about, that you hadn’t been able to learn from going through your other channels?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:23:50] Yeah, I think the biggest thing we’re learning is fast price sensitivity. So that’s been the biggest question that we as a company have.
Robbie Baxter [00:23:58] Can you explain what price sensitivity is and what the question is?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:24:00] Sure. So price sensitivity is just at what price will people be willing to buy things? And if it’s super expensive, a few people will buy it. And if it’s super cheap, more people will buy it. And depending on your product and how much people want it, you might have to move your price a little or a lot to get that more people engaged. And so historically and currently, Impossible meat costs more than animal meat. We’re working to change that. Our long term goal is for it to be the same or if not cheaper than animal meat. But it’s going to take us a little while to get there. And so one of the big questions internally has been if we could bring price down, how much more will we sell? And in the world that we talked about in with the restaurants, it’s hard to see that because we change our price. And then it’s hard for us to know how much of that price reaches the restaurant and then how much of that price the restaurant passes along to the consumer. So it’s very hard to see, but in our online, we can see it very quickly. We change the price and immediately things, you know, the number of people who are buying off of the session change. So we ran the experiment very early on where we had launched with free shipping for everything, free shipping on any product. And we got a little bit in and decided that we wanted to increase the free shipping amount because frankly, because of the internal economics, we needed to shift it a little bit. And so we changed it to free shipping over seventy five dollars, which meant that you had to buy two items instead of one. And I definitely knew that we would see a shift in behavior. What I didn’t know is how big that shift would be so quickly when we run that kind of change in the food service business, it will take us three months to measure it. And in this a day later, we had our answer. We’re like, oh, OK, 40 percent more purchases are two item and our conversion rate changed by this. And we were very quickly able to model out what that looks like and start to think about what are the new experiments we need to run to get to an optimal place where we’re both running at good unit economics, but also selling to as many people as we can.
Robbie Baxter [00:26:11] Really, really interesting. So just to close out on that question, I’m sure people listening are really curious. Was the learning that people would just buy more if you had that higher minimum or did you learn that, you know, a lot of people believe that free shipping is like the most important thing that you have to offer or you don’t sell anything.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:26:36] Free shipping is definitely powerful. If you had asked me ahead of time, based on what I know about Impossible and based on having done years of testing on price and at Netflix, we used to do this where we would shift, this was in DVD days where you could have one DVD out at a time or two or three, and we would shift one price and you’d see people fall into the one, two and three packages at different rates. So based on that, I would have expected us to shift from one item purchase to two item purchases, at like, I don’t know, maybe 10 points more. And instead we saw like three times more. It was massive and it was instant. The free shipping bar is super motivating for people to get over. And what that’s doing for us is trying to figure out how can we make it? How can we bring in some lower priced items to make it easier for people to hit that free shipping bar? If we could, we would do free shipping on everything. But what we’re finding is that on a single item purchase, it would require us to price so much higher. We don’t think it’s worth it.
Robbie Baxter [00:27:37] I mean, one of the interesting things is you have real variable costs which you also had at Netflix in the early days. Where you actually have if somebody gets more movies or buys more burgers, the price goes up for you to deliver.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:27:51] The other thing that I found super interesting about the direct to consumer, the DTC, is that you make a conscious choice about whether are you pricing for a convenience consumer or are you pricing for a bulk discount? And people buy online for different reasons. And so we very specifically made a choice to say this is about a convenience consumer we want. So we wanted to make sure that we were pricing it at a level that for people who were really excited about the product and wanted the convenience, it was worth it to them, but that it is definitely cheaper to go buy it at your local grocery store. And we’re not trying to compete with the local grocery store.
Robbie Baxter [00:28:29] So can you say a little bit about who this you know, one of the things that that I think is really important, especially in the early days of an organization, is to have a really clear picture of who the customer is and what their journey is from, you know, kind of both what their journey is with your product offering, but also what their journey is, the bigger journey that you’re a part of. So in your case, that might be the journey to get to, you know, a lighter touch on the environment. Right, where they’re doing lots of things. They’re driving a Tesla, they’re using less water. They’re rethinking their travel plans, whatever. Who is the the Impossible customer? And kind of how do you think about their journey and your role in that in that journey?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:29:21] Yeah, well, first and foremost, they love meat, right? They’re a meat eater. I mean, some people are like, oh, good. This is a great product for vegetarians. And while we certainly do have a lot of people who are vegetarian who want to use Impossible, that’s not who we want to be our customer as in solo. For us, this is really about providing an alternative to animal meat for the whole world. And most of the world eats animal meat. You know, there’s like five percent of people overall more in the Bay Area, but five percent of people overall are vegetarian or vegan. And we don’t think that would naturally grow a whole lot if they were to choose from the current alternatives of how to have a vegetarian or vegan diet. So with Impossible, what we’re trying to do is make a vegetarian diet accessible to all the people who love meat and don’t want to give it up. So that’s number one. Number two is they tend to be people who love meat but know that it would probably be better for them and or for the planet if they had a little less red meat. And one of the things that I knew, but now I know a lot more about is how harmful animal agriculture is. So I think that part of our job at Impossible as marketers is to help people understand how much of a difference they can make by eating just one burger a week of Impossible instead of from a cow. So if you ask people like, hey, what’s the biggest thing that you could do to help impact climate change? Most people will say, oh, get solar on my house or I should drive an electric car or things like that. And those are really big choices, like deciding to buy an electric car or deciding to install solar. First of all you have to own a house to install solar. Those are really big choices. The reality is that if as a meat eater, you’ve changed just one meal a week to Impossible every week, you would do so much more for the environment than shifting what you drive or adding solar to your house. And so that’s a piece of information that people don’t know. And that’s a big job on our part, is to help people understand how important and how impactful that can be, because it’s a very small change for a consumer, but hugely important to the world.
Robbie Baxter [00:31:35] So when you think about the onboarding and what that journey is, it sounds like the journey is I want to make better choices for the planet, for the environment. And this is an easy, maybe an easier or pain free or in my realm of reasonable, this is something I can do.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:31:55] Yeah, no compromises. You know, the taste is amazing. I cook it just like ground beef. It fits into my life the same way. And it’s gonna make a big difference for the planet.
Robbie Baxter [00:32:05] So interesting. So it’s not for the vegetarians. It’s a very focused strategy. You know, I know you’ve recently launched a loyalty program. Can you maybe talk you know, this show is called Subscription Stories, and while you have many subscription stories to tell, the focus today is on how you move toward subscription behavior or what I think about building a forever transaction with your customer, this ongoing trusted relationship to solve a big problem or achieve a goal, but without actually resorting to the tactic of subscription pricing. So how are you building that loyalty?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:32:45] Yeah. So Taste Place is a really interesting new program that we we launched at CES this year. And as you talked about, it’s we want to have that Forever Transaction that forever relationship with our consumers. But we’re not going to do it by signing them up for a money transaction each month. We’re going to do it by becoming part of their way of life and building that loyalty. And so one of the things that I find super appealing about Impossible as a company, as a place to work, as a brand, as a consumer, is that we’re not asking you to sacrifice anything. We’re actually asking you to buy into the community of this can be delicious for you and good for the world at the same time. And so Taste Place is a way for us to provide a home for all of those people, to bring them in, to get them right close up with us and learn first and foremost, like, hey, I want first taste of a new product or oh, you’re going to be showing up at a certain food festival. I want to be there or I want to earn points to get an Impossible T-shirt, things like that. It’s amazing how much when you have a product that people believe in, they want to be part of that community with you. And so this is our way of opening them up and letting them be part of that community with us. And so it strengthens the relationship we have with them and gives us a way to talk to people more directly than we otherwise could. Which is super, super motivating and empowering as marketers to know that I have this audience of people who are like, yes, I love your product. I would love to talk to you more about why and what I tell my friends and what makes sense to me and what doesn’t make sense to me.
Robbie Baxter [00:34:25] Yeah. These are the super users that we talk about a lot, the ones who go beyond just buying your products regularly and using them well, but who also invest their own resources, their own time, especially to help the organization, to help you on your mission. In this case, by giving you feedback, by acting as ambassadors and maybe even helping people learn how to use your products better, you know?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:34:51] Absolutely. And we see that in Taste Place. And we also see it on our social channels where people are constantly posting pictures of what they cooked with Impossible, or sometimes they’ll do a little taste test with their friends and they’ll show, like, here’s my friend trying. And, you know, can they figure out which one is the animal meet and which one is Impossible me? And we love seeing those because we know that these are people who they’re with us on the journey. They’re excited about the product and they want to make sure that everyone else’s, too.
Robbie Baxter [00:35:18] Yeah. It’s so interesting to me how you have brought in all of these elements that lead to subscription success without the subscription. Yeah, because that’s all about, you know, building super users, giving them a reason to reach out. Making a habit, rewarding them and recognizing them for their contributions. And being focused together on a long term goal. The last question I wanna ask you before the speed round is I’m sure people who are listening are dying to know, you know, you worked at Netflix, you worked at Optimizely. You worked at YouTube. You have brought subscription to a lot of new places and you’ve been in a lot of new categories. What is it that you have brought with you to this non subscription company to Impossible? That is useful? What is applicable in a non subscription environment when you’re trying to establish and build new habits that you can learn from all of your experience working with many different kinds of subscriptions?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:36:19] Yeah, I think it’s two things. One is the as we talked about at the beginning, fundamental to that Forever Transaction is a really high quality product. And I think Impossible is that a diehard focus on making that product iteratively better, better or better all the time. And what that in turn does is I look at this and I say I think this is the kind of thing that most people today don’t know what plant based meat is. The idea that meat can be made from plants is kind of a head scratcher. And I think 10 years from now, people are going to look back and say, that was always obvious. And that’s what was true with Netflix right, people in the early days with Netflix after the 2000 market bubble popped in 2001, I went to dinner with some friends. And this woman said, Oh, I haven’t seen you since last year. And, you know, last time I saw you working for that crazy company that was sending DVD through the mail, and I’m sure they’re out of business now. So what are you doing now? I’m like, actually, I’m still Netflix. And today when I talk about Netflix, people are like, oh, yeah, they used to do DVD. I totally forgot. So that belief, that confidence in we have something that is so special, that is so clearly exciting for consumers, that 10 years from now people are going to think it was obvious that was always going to work. That’s true of Netflix. And I believe that’s going to be true of Impossible. I think people are going to look back 10 years from now and say it was always obvious that we were going to switch to eating meat made from plants. And so having that belief and that confidence in the product leads me to have that passion for how do I engage with consumers and know that if I can get them to engage and get them to stay involved because the product is amazing, then we will just keep going. And 10 years now, I will have that same experience with people like I mean, that wasn’t really a big risk you took that was always obvious it was going to succeed.
Robbie Baxter [00:38:11] Yeah, it’s so I mean, it’s so funny because you’re bringing back all these memories for me of, you know, there was a period I mean, I was such a zealot after I did the work with Netflix where I was buying Netflix subscriptions for all of my relatives. Yeah. And a lot of them didn’t even use they couldn’t even. I mean, I had to go sit with them. They wouldn’t use it until I showed them how to use it. And I set them up and followed up with them because it was so different. And now people really don’t remember that. They think of it as something that just always was there. Like you turn on the tap and the water comes out, you turn on whatever your devices and you click on the Netflix button because it’s just there.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:38:48] And that’s the sign of success, is that, you know, you’ve succeeded when people assume that it was easy all the way along. Right. You know, but that that makes it fun. And the other piece I’d say is really that internal belief in it is the product that’s going to carry us all the way through. Like as a marketer, it’s a privilege and a thrill to be able to work on a product that, you know, people are going to have a great experience with. And that’s what creates that forever relationship, because you build the trust with the consumer that you’re asking them to engage with something that they’re going to love. And when you deliver on that, they want to come back for more.
Robbie Baxter [00:39:25] That’s perfect. Let’s go to the speed round to close out. I like to do this. It’s fun. First of all, advice for executives. First as a subscription practitioner, that is now in a more episodic business.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:39:38] Talk to your consumers. Put yourself in their feet every day.
Robbie Baxter [00:39:42] And as a marketer, building habits around a new kind of product?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:39:45] You have to say it a hundred times before a consumer will hear you twice.
Robbie Baxter [00:39:50] Wow. Okay. Good one. And now for the speed round. Your first subscription that you remember having?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:39:55] Netflix.
Robbie Baxter [00:39:57] Your favorite subscription?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:39:59] Well, Netflix is still one of my favorites. My new favorite is Disney Plus.
Robbie Baxter [00:40:02] Got it. Your superpower?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:40:05] I speak multiple business languages. I can talk to tech people and marketing people and business people.
Robbie Baxter [00:40:11] What do your colleagues love about working with you and what do they find most difficult about working with you?
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:40:17] Greatest strength. Greatest weakness. You’ll always know what I’m thinking. So sometimes I say out loud what people they want to know where I stand. And then sometimes they’re like, Oh, so that’s where you stand, ok.
Robbie Baxter [00:40:30] So best and worst. And then the one thing that you want to tell subscription entrepreneurs and practitioners who are listening.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:40:38] Don’t be afraid to let people tell you what they like and what they don’t like, because you can fix, the what they don’t like. And it’ll be really powerful information for you.
Robbie Baxter [00:40:47] Great. Thank you so much, Jessie. This has been fantastic.
Jessie Teitz Becker [00:40:50] Super fun. Robbie. I love the work that you’re doing.
Robbie Baxter [00:40:56] Thanks for listening, everyone. I’m Robbie Kellman Baxter, and this has been subscription Stories. Today I was talking with Jessie Teitz Becker, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Impossible Foods. You’ll find out more about Jessie and Impossible Foods, as well as a transcript of our conversation at RobbieKellmanBaxter.com/podcast. To hear other success stories of entrepreneurs and executives creating their Forever Transaction in this new and exciting Membership Economy subscribe to my podcast wherever you listen most. Also, if you like what you heard, please take a moment and give me a star rating and write a review. Reviews matter so much in helping others find us. Thanks for listening and thanks for your support.
- Jessie’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessiebecker/
- Impossible Foods: https://buy.impossiblefoods.com/
- Robbie’s Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/
- Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/
Jessie Teitz Becker is a marketing executive based in Silicon Valley. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Impossible Foods where she leads the B2B and B2C marketing, insights, and brand marketing teams. Jessie began her career at Netflix in 2000 as one of the first people hired in the marketing department, and eventually rose to interim Chief Marketing officer. She then joined Optimizely, a B2B software company, as Chief Marketing Officer and later served as the Director of Marketing at Google and YouTube. Jessie holds a Bachelor’s in History from the University of Pennsylvania, a Bachelor’s in Economics from The Wharton School and an MBA from Stanford University, where she was an Arjay Miller Scholar.
“The reality is that if as a meat eater, you’ve changed just one meal a week to Impossible every week, you would do so much more for the environment than shifting what you drive or adding solar to your house. And so that’s a piece of information that people don’t know. And that’s a big job on our part, to help people understand how important and how impactful that can be, because it’s a very small change for a consumer, but hugely important to the world“
—JESSIE TEITZ BECKER, IMPOSSIBLE FOODS
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