Digital Commerce 360

Why a digitally native cookware retailer aims to be a lifestyle brand

Digitally native, vertically integrated (DNVI) cookware retailer Made In wants to be a lifestyle brand.

“One thing that separates the good from the great DNVIs is that the great ones have the ability to create a lifestyle around the brand,” says Jake Kalick, the company’s president and co-founder. The approach aims to help Made In appeal to its target customer group: millennials who are just starting to outfit their homes with items such as cookware.

Made In aims to undercut high-end brands, such as All Clad, in price—Made In’s 10-inch non-stick frying pan sells for $79 compared with $140 for an All-Clad—and it also aims to engage with consumers in multiple ways offline. Those range from a series of cooking demonstrations at South by Southwest featuring various Austin, Texas chefs, to its plans to use an Austin storefront where it can build a test kitchen and offer cooking classes.

The South by Southwest event, which took place on March 18, was a prime example of Made In’s desire to offer “educational” content, says Bradford “Chip” Malt, CEO and co-founder. “The idea is to create compelling content that can be shared online and offline.”

For instance, the South by Southwest event attracted 6,371 RSVPs and 1,020 attendees who were able to taste food and drinks prepared by chefs such as Gabe Erales, Evan LeRoy and Andre Molina using Made In products. “We’re creating experiences that people want to share,” Kalick says. “Everyone loves to share and Instagram food and drinks.”

In fact, the retailer attracted nearly 220,000 social media impressions from posts related to the event. Those posts, in turn, helped boost the retailer’s organic search volume 20% from March 9-18 (the span of South by Southwest). Moreover, the number of consumers who converted on after clicking from a social network jumped nearly 91% in March.

Those results have driven Kalick and Malt to focus on finding other ways to help consumers “experience” its products, Kalick says. “Food, for us, is emotional, it’s experiential,” he says. “It can be hard as a DNVI to convey that online.”

And it is taking a cue from Casper, No. 132 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000, which earlier this year launched a “branded nap destination” called the Dreamery. Consumers can pay $25 to catch a 45-minute nap inside a sleeping pod that’s furnished with a Casper mattress, covered in sheets, pillows, blankets, socks and an eye mask. But rather than offer naps, it aims to use physical storefronts a hub of food-related experiences. It plans to open its first in Austin by the end of the year.

And, in an effort to bring the offline experience online, it plans to use the storefront to create content that lives online. For instance, it might stream cooking demonstrations on Facebook Live or Instagram Live, or take photos for its blog.

As Made In builds brand awareness, it also plans to expand beyond cookware into related categories, such as knives.