Nomadica's founder on when to lead with DTC-- and when to push retail.

How this marketer thinks about positioning Nomadica's fine wine (in a can!), why retail buyers can be a major unlock for your brand, and the strengths of the natural and organic food channel.


The consumer landscape looks pretty different than it did just a few years ago, pushing so many DTC native brands to switch up their growth & acquisition strategies. In this new miniseries, we pick the brains of the founders, marketers, and operators behind brands navigating the shift. Today: Nomadica's founder, Kristin Olszewski, on how she's marketing fine wine-- in a can!

What are some of the biggest hills you’ve had to climb in the last year or so as a marketer?

Our two biggest hills to climb have been consumer perception of sustainable packaging (for example, that it's low quality) and that historically, the wine industry hasn't done a great job of trading in new or young consumers. Because Nomadica was the first to market with fine wine in can (and now box!), we had to communicate quality and differentiate ourselves at every touch point.

What’s the dream state for Nomadica in 2024?

My dream has always been to make great wine accessible (major retail, concerts, sports games) while lowering the wine industry's carbon footprint. As people care more about what they put into their bodies, less sugar, minimally processed, whole ingredients, sustainable farming, nothing gross. I want Nomadica to be the brand that brings people back to the wine category - unpretentious, delicious, while still retaining the romance of wine.

How have the DTC and omnichannel landscape changed for Nomadica in the last year or so? Are you feeling bullish, and on which channels?

I'm bullish on the natural & organic channel. Our customers are shopping at these retailers and are digitally savvy.

What’s the DTC vs. retail split like for Nomadica?

50/50 - the retail cycle is notoriously long, so DTC is an incredible avenue for testing new products and collaborations and learning from our hardcore fans on what we're doing well (and what we need to change).

What are some of the biggest hurdles driving sell-through in stores? Where do things get stuck?

Our biggest hurdle has been getting onto the shelf. Much of my category was dominated by low-cost "utility wine." Proving that we're the right product to monetize a higher-income consumer required a lot of DTC data, time, and having a few retailers take a chance on us.

What tactics or tools actually work?

Work with the buyers; they know more about their customers than you do. Old-school demos have been gold for us because they're hooked once people taste our wine. Because we're in a non-traditional format, we've had to overcome consumer perception of the wine experience in cans.

What’s your take on pay-to-play retailers or partners who require really substantial investment to get the right placement on-shelf? Worth it, unavoidable cost of growth, or shady?

I believe in using dollars as gasoline when the fire has already begun. When you launch the right product in the right channel, your investment should eventually be profitable. Alcohol is unlike any other CPG category - retailers cannot ask us for dollars, but often distributors do. I'm always a big fan of a smaller footprint of stores to test and learn before expansion.

As an omnichannel brand, how do you approach customer data? How do you recoup what you lose by growing so much in retail/wholesale?

In early Nomadica days, a major winery owner told me he didn't believe in canned wine because no one in the space had positive velocity data. From then on, I made "no bad data"  my mantra. We only launch a retailer when we know the demand is there. We use DTC and on-premise wholesale data (bars, restaurants, hotels, venues) to understand when we're ready to launch retail in a certain market.

What advice do you have for marketers who are pushing a DTC brand into new sales channels for the first time, as a brand that’s nailed that expansion?

Keep an open mind and test everything. Be ready to move quickly when something works or to turn it off if it's not working.

Want to try Nomadica for $10 off? Get a Thingtesting-exclusive deal on a 4-pack here.

Lightning round ⚡

Your take on some of the new trends and channels we're seeing? TikTok Shop? Flip?

As an alcohol company, we cannot participate in many new trends for compliance reasons, but I'm DREAMING of the day when we can sell wine on TikTok shop. Some of my friends' brands are crushing it right now.

What's your favorite omnichannel brand? Who do you look to for inspiration or think is crushing it?

Obsessed with Deux! Sabeena and the team have built a fun community around their better-for-you sweet snacks. It doesn't hurt that their donut holes are one of the best treats I've ever had.

Favorite dish, snack or meal to pair a Nomadica can with so far?

The combination of working way too many long hours and being an ex-restaurant person means I love fancy simple foods. My other fav is a white anchovies, butter, and baguette paired with our sparkling white or orange wine with charcuterie and pickles.

Nomadica uses Thingtesting to power sell-through, acquisition and survey in retailers like Whole Foods, FreshDirect, Good Eggs, Central Market and many more. Curious about learning more or doing the same? Learn more about our growth tools here.