Dr. Bronner’s Grew Revenue 2963% in 20 Years With No Advertising

Dr. Bronner’s Loyalty Through the Ages

A camping trip without a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s is like forgetting your sleeping bag. Peppermint. Sudsy. Easy on the environment. Around the campfire, the peppermint continues to remind you of how clean you are. My employees tell me they love it for everyday cleansing. So, yep…Channel Signal is a big fan. And we’re clearly not the only ones.
This pure Castile soap with the funny, obscure text on the bottle (“All-One”) garners loyalty from all sectors of consumers. But, why?
Founded by third generation soapmaker and German immigrant Emanuel (Emil) Heilbronner, with family roots since 1858 and U.S. roots since 1948, Dr. Bronner’s has stayed true to the original mission for generations. Kieran Dahl from Vox quotes current CEO David Bronner in a recent article:

“We’re a real family company, fifth generation, and we just have really deep roots. We’re just staying true to what we’re doing.”

What’s With That Kooky Text?

Dr. Bronner's Text

Emil’s parents were killed in Nazi Germany. After emigrating to the U.S., dropping the “Heil” from his name and adding Dr. (he was never a real doctor), Emil began preaching a message of peace. He used the labels on his soaps to spread his message that “we must realize our unity across religious & ethnic divides or perish.”
From lectures in the 1950’s to environmental protests in the 2010’s, Dr. Bronner’s has a Patagonia-style mission of being a part of the solution. Wacky in its packaging and messaging, the brand is full of passion. And consumers love it, buy it, talk about it, and continue to grow the company.

“In all we do, let us be generous, fair & loving to Spaceship Earth and all its inhabitants. For we’re ALL-ONE OR NONE! ALL-ONE!”

Powered by the Consumers

When David took over as CEO in 1998, Dr. Bronner’s annual revenue was $4 million. In 2018, it was $122.5 million. Of that, $8.4 million went to social causes deeply important to the Bronner family: regenerative organic food and agriculture ($1.3 million), animal welfare ($755,000), criminal justice reform ($500,000), child and youth services ($265,000).
Here’s the interesting part of the story. Dr. Bronner’s does no advertising. No social media. No influencer marketing. No nothin’.
So what is powering Dr. Bronner’s forward? Plain and simple: the power of consumers. Consumers have taken to social media, especially Instagram, to sing the company’s praises. Hollywood is in love with the Bronner products and talks the brand up all the time.
Thousands of loyalists do its marketing and advertising for the brand.. How powerful is that!

The Real Consumer Tailwind: Product Reviews

In our opinion, the real tailwind for Dr. Bronner’s? Product reviews. Among the millions of cross-industry product reviews Channel Signal has collected over the years, these products are atop the list of most positive consumer feedback on a percentage basis.
Dr. Bronner's Positive Reviews
Positive reviews mention love of the scent, moisturizing qualities, value for the money and multitude of uses. As we mentioned, all of this perpetuates the strong Dr. Bronner’s name and performance.
So, would a brand with such positive consumer sentiment want to aggregate and measure its product reviews? Absolutely. And here’s why.

  1. To ensure the consumer sentiment remains high. Product reviews can be an early warning of PR issues that could change the trajectory of even the most beloved brand. The Bronner folks should keep an eye on this barometer for each of their key positive brand attributes to get a quick grasp the second something changes.
  2. To understand and tackle the negative issues, although few. Some of the complaints within the reviews included a “burning” sensation when washing sensitive areas and breakouts. These types of issues should be monitored and addressed in product instructions, packaging and the brand website.
  3. To receive early warning of problems from counterfeiting to packaging. By far the most prominent negative issues in the reviews had to do with receiving the wrong product and damage from shipment. While these issues are caused by the seller rather than the brand itself, it can still damage the brand. Brands can also use this info as an early warning of counterfeit product in the marketplace.
  4. To stay abreast of its competitive landscape. Which new or existing competitors are tracking against the Bronner brand, and how do consumers favor their products in comparison? Product reviews can help Dr. Bronner’s compete on everything from messaging to new product concepts.

So, the real story here? Passion. Quality. Longevity. Consistency. All of these ingredients mix into strong customer loyalty and that translates to powerful customer reviews, which completes the circle for new customers.
Well done, Dr. Bronner’s.

*Based on Channel Signal’s aggregation of product reviews across sites and industries for one year spanning June 2018 to May 2019.
**Based on a quick aggregation of Dr. Bronner’s top 10 listed products on Amazon.