Sticker brand D2C leverages mailing list to launch hot sauce

As direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands compete for consumer attention and loyalty, the custom print site Mule sticker expanded to a new audience by taking a sharp turn – launching a brand of hot sauce.

“We [launched Mule Sauce] for fun, to be honest with you,” the brand’s co-founder and CEO Anthony Constantino said PYMNTS in a recent interview. “It’s kind of a joke, but it’s only a funny joke if we make a good hot sauce.”

What started out as basically a bit has become a very real part of the company’s business. Today, the hot sauce has its own audience independent of the sticker printing business, with the company shipping nearly 40,000 bottles each month. Anecdotally, Constantino mentioned that when he wears his “Sticker Mule” t-shirts in public, he gets comments from those who know the company primarily for its hot sauce.

The D2C hot sauce category is competitive, with brands such as Truffle and Bushwick Kitchen build their following from scratch. Sticker Mule, meanwhile, started out with a built-in audience.

“We want a million people to use mule sauce every year,” Constantino said. “I think it’s a good target for where we’re going to be next year,” he added.

As it seeks to secure existing customers and attract new ones, Sticker Mule relies primarily on its mailing list, which has garnered attention for the short, design-free, text-only messages it uses to promote products without exhausting consumers.

“Some people call our water-activated tape WAP. Its correct abbreviation is WAT,” reads a recent pitch. “You should try to avoid this mistake. Anyway, get some WAT today.” today for just $9 (usually $19).

Constantino added that while other types of marketing, such as SEO and advertising, are more critical in launching a D2C startup, the email list grows in importance as the brand grows.

“A lot of people mismanage their email list. They send too many emails and they send bad quality emails,” Constantino said. “For us, it’s about writing an email fun, concise and without over-sending.”

Nearly half of all consumers interact with D2C brands every month, according to data from the July edition of PYMNTS’ ConnectedEconomy™ study, The ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Rise of the Smart Home. The study, which is based on a survey of nearly 2,700 US consumers, found that 45% of consumers had made online purchases directly from brands in the previous 30 days, and half of between them had done it every week or more.

Get the study: The ConnectedEconomy™ Monthly Report: The Rise of the Smart Home

This share of e-commerce customers continues to grow, according to United States Census Bureau data on the recent past and on projections of digital sales in the future. Today, the eCommerce mix of total retail sales is about one percentage point higher than it would have been without the pandemic-driven increase in consumer use of digital channels between 2020 and 2022. That single percentage point translates to $81.6 billion. e-commerce sales over the past four quarters.

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