What are business leaders doing to prepare for the new year?
I sat down with Kara Goldin to discuss her learning lessons and future predictions for the new year. She is the Founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., best known for its award-winning Hint water, the leading unsweetened flavored water. She has received numerous accolades, including being named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 Northern California and one of InStyle’s 2019 Badass 50. Previously, Goldin was VP of Shopping Partnerships at America Online. She hosts the podcast The Kara Goldin Show. Her first book, Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters, was released October 2020 and is now a Wall Street Journal and Amazon Best Seller. Goldin lives in the Bay Area with her family.
Chan: What was your favorite brand trend in 2021?
Goldin: In the last months of 2020, politics had pretty much drowned out brands (and everything else), so I was looking forward to a return to “normal” in 2021. But normal has taken a lot longer to return. During the Pandemic, consumers seem to have spent a lot of their money on appliances, cars and accessories for the home. Healthy living has been part of that trend, with lots of indoor exercise equipment loading down Fedex and UPS trucks early on, but bicycles (and e-bikes) seem to have staged a comeback lately as people venture outside their own four walls. In food and beverage, we’re seeing brands that have a clear and real benefit winning out more and more over “healthy perception” brands. I think consumers are taking a closer look at claims and looking for brands that really deliver on promises that they’re making or implying.
Chan: How can leaders grow their own brands in 2022?
Goldin: Consumers are expecting brands to do what they say more than ever. You should figure out what consumers want to hear, but in 2022 you better make sure that you’re not only telling them what they want to hear by also giving them what they really need. Your brand will be judged by the consumer based on how your products perform and help people.
Chan: What is your favorite podcast or book for this year that will prepare others for next year?
Goldin: Well Undaunted of course! I didn’t write the book or start my podcast The Kara Goldin Show to focus on any particular year, but I’m constantly finding people to interview who have faced huge challenges and had the tenacity to find a way to succeed.
Chan: What trends in D2C do you expect to see from this year to next year?
Goldin: With the cost of acquiring customers and shipping goods to them both going up, the importance of staying close to your customer and building your relationship with them is key. I think we’ll see more and more companies finding creative ways to stay connected to their consumer. We will also see some creative ways of moving goods around the country and over the last mile to the consumer.
Chan: What other advice do you have for business leaders for next year?
Goldin: Take a moment to celebrate having made it through one of the hardest years in history. Your undaunted resilience is what makes you who you are. As you head into 2022, make sure you have the resources you’ll need to make it through a few more bumps in the road and take the time to try to figure out which cost increases that you’ve seen are long term and which are temporary responses to disruption. Consider price adjustments seriously but carefully. You may need to take an increase and you’ll get less pushback this year than ever before.