Curie is a natural body care brand formulating clean products, from hand sanitizers to scented candles, as effective as their chemical-ridden counterparts on the market.
Since 2018, they’ve expanded from their flagship aluminum-free deodorant to a full product range, which can be found online and in Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's, and Anthropologie.
We sat down with Sarah Moret, Founder and CEO at Curie, to unpack:
- The major pain points of manually executing a brand partnership
- Curie’s real-time playbook for ramping organic and paid marketing
- How Disco impacts Curie’s growth across AOV and CX improvements
“As soon as I discovered Disco, I knew it was exactly what I needed. It’s a way to share traffic with like-minded brands and requires very low lift from our team.”
Curie’s Three-Pronged Growth Model
Curie’s marketing budget hovers at a lower price point and percentage of their total revenue than most DTC brands today. Below, Sarah breaks down their paid growth into three core buckets.
1. Influencer Marketing
Rather than paying influencers for individual posts or swipe-up stories, Curie opts to sign a handful of them to get paid every month for serving as de facto brand ambassadors.
Then, Curie also seeds micro-influencers across social who are only paid via products
2. The TikTok Wave
Like many DTC brands, Curie has grown exhausted by CACs on major channels like Facebook and Instagram — and instead chosen to make the leap to newer platforms such as TikTok.
As far as social channels go, Sarah points out that TikTok has served them far better.
She attributes this to TikTok’s significantly lower CPMs, which she estimates are less than half of the costs at Facebook, as well as the brand’s three-pronged approach to the video-based app:
- Organic posting: several videos posted to Curie’s TikTok account went organically viral
- Influencer seeding: sending products to creators who post about the brand, in turn helping Curie accumulate millions of views that have converted into trackable sales
- Paid ad spend: when a video (either organic or posted by an influencer) begins gaining traction, the team whitelists the post and throws serious advertising spend against it
3. Affiliate Marketing
Primarily managed by their PR firm, this method entails getting Curie mentioned in articles and listicles alongside trackable affiliate links pushing back to the brand’s landing pages.
In addition, incentivizing fitness studio partners who carry Curie products in their locker rooms is a critical step. Then, Curie can plug its brand into their email lists and social followings by allocating studio partners a percentage of the sales generated by their direct affiliate links.
“TikTok performs better than Facebook and Instagram for us. CPMs are less than half in comparison. But, like any paid platform, it can be highly volatile.”
Why Curie Onboarded with Disco
Curie was one of the first brands to sign on to Disco. Sarah had sensed the missing presence of a co-op-based solution in the market but never had the technical capabilities to orchestrate it.
Before onboarding, Curie endured distinct pain points around its lack of actionable acquisition data as well as the high level of manual input required to orchestrate brand partnerships.
Low-Effort, High-Reward Acquisitions
While Curie was still a bootstrapped brand, the team frequently sought low-cost acquisition channels — with brand collaborations being one of the most successful. Examples included:
- Co-branded giveaways with like-minded brands — They swapped email lists and shared social accounts to grow audiences on both channels mutually.
- Email swaps — They created universal discount codes applicable to both brands’ sites before each blasted their listservs about the other brand’s discount.
To this day, Sarah considers these early partnerships immensely lucrative in helping build Curie’s early audience and user base. However, they also presented two critical pain points:
- A lack of reliable brand data for decision making
- A labor drain on the teams coordinating partnerships
Searching for Actionable Data
According to Sarah, Curie has orchestrated roughly ten email swaps within the last year. Some converted well while others struggled. She found it surprising which were which.
- For instance, she anticipated Curie’s email swap with a skincare brand to drive a massive sales wave due to their obvious matchup. They gained about five new customers.
- Meanwhile, after swapping with a toilet paper brand, they gained about 40.
In other words, there was little opportunity for brands to make data-driven calls on the audience overlap of a potential partnership. Investing in collaboration was essentially a shot in the dark.
The Resource Drain in Manual Collabs
For Curie’s small team of fewer than ten full-timers, every coordinated email swap, giveaway, etc., quickly became an operationally draining process.
As Sarah puts it, it can feel like herding cats across an email thread of at least 50 back-and-forth questions — especially if done with multiple brands, like Curie’s collaboration with five other businesses for International Women’s Day. This generally includes:
- Creating and swapping branding assets, i.e., photos and written copy
- Designing, developing, then coordinating email campaigns and email lists
- Coordinating landing pages to collect user info in the event of a giveaway
Despite this, the Curie team still could not justify bringing on an additional full-time member, leaving the brand to scale back their co-branded collaborations to one per quarter and wait until they were invited to do one so they could avoid the significant lift of leading it.
“Before Disco, we couldn’t tap into another brand’s community based on real-time data sets about shared audiences. It was genuinely painful to do this manually.”