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Brandless Pops Up in L.A.

I stopped into the Brandless Pop-Up store, which is open for two weeks on Melrose Avenue in Santa Monica, California. Brandless has been on my radar for some time now, and our office has even ordered some of the products.

Yet, I was strangely moved by my experience in the store (and not just because Brandless loaded me up with free snacks-well, maybe a little because of the free snacks).  Brandless is a San Francisco based start-up that has a web-based product offering built around the premise of offering high quality products without a “brand” mark-up. Every product on the web site is sold for $3 and brand “tax” is always calculated—what you would have paid had you ordered the brand product.

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So, why was I so impressed by this effort?

  • Even though I knew the brand, I really didn’t know the brand. The store did a spectacular job of educating customers on why their products were different. Brandless emphasizes value and values, making the point that this is not generic product. In fact, Brandless has a very strong brand ethos.
  • Brandless carried a much more extensive line of products than I was aware of. The store featured a full table, as an example, of Vegan products, and another of Gluten Free and yet another of organics. The range was impressive and Brandless has broadened their reach into beauty products. Again, at a $3 price point.
  • There was some great educational signage in the store, Brandles explained FSC certification in paper, what EPA safer choice means and how they define Clean Beauty. While I’m sure that the website covers all of this in great detail, there is nothing quite like great displays and signage to underscore a point.
  • It had all the requisite features of a high energy pop-up. There was a workshop (streamed of course) on Vegan products. there was also a sample station, selfie area and a product taste testing zone. The store had energy and enthusiasm.

Why was all this so remarkable? Brandless is selling packaged goods, the boring stuff that generally gets no attention. If they can create this much energy around “commodity” products, imagine what they can do as they expand their lines further.

Don’t be fooled by the Brandless name. In fact, Brandless is well on their way to building a next generation brand.


McMillanDoolittle is a premier international retail consultancy bringing deep experience with world class clients. Our partners have extensive experience interpreting the retail marketplace and converting insights into successful strategies. We help clients develop innovative solutions in strategy development, the customer experience, new concepts, brand performance, retail performance improvement and retail intelligence services.

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