With extensive branding expertise, Bonobos alums, turned co-founders, David Fudge and Emily Onkey took a careful and thoughtful approach as they developed Aplós. Neither being much of a drinker themselves, they set out to build the premium spirit brand of the future. Finding a way to combine the feel of effortless cool, a smooth refreshing taste, and the gentle calming and uplifting effects of CBD in a bottle, founders, David Fudge and Emily Onkey, have ushered in the new age of non-alcoholic beverages with Aplós.
Formulated in collaboration with master mixologist and James Beard honoree Lynnette Marrero, Aplós is the first non-alcoholic spirit infused with sustainable, organically-grown broad-spectrum hemp. With notes of rosemary cardamom, the citrus-led beverage is vegan, has no sugar, and zero calories. Flexible enough to serve shaken, stirred, neat, or on the rocks, Aplós offers a healthy new way to unwind with a drink.
"We are looking for a way to unwind without compromising our health, we are setting out to reimagine the adult drinking experience."
Pre-launch, the thoughtful duo had their ideal customer pegged as vegan, yoga practicing, super healthy, zen-life person—and they were not, well, not solely. Launching winter of 2020, Aplós reached a much wider customer base than expected, resonating with adults across the country. Reported by Neilson, Millennials and Gen Z are more conscious of their drinking habits, taking into account factors such as low- alcohol level, calorie count, and non-alcoholic options before purchasing beverages. David, the reluctant drinker, and Emily, the social drinker, came to find customers much like themselves, adults looking to enjoy the ritual of drinking without the negative negative effects of alcohol.
"As a brand, it was great to see the brand resonate with a wider set of people - they still want to enjoy the ritual of drinking, they just want to drink less."
Aplós, having been developed by co-founders with 10+ years DTC experience, was positioned for subscriptions since its inception. But like a well-crafted cocktail, it was not to be rushed. Unlike other brands that implemented subscription models to survive the impact of the covid pandemic, the duo waited to launch their subscription program based on strong repeat rates.
Crafted in small batches, Aplós is always quick to sell out. As customers clamored to get their hands on a bottle, David and Emily looked to launch their membership subscription model with Smartrr for a number of reasons:
The primary reason being customer experience. If you spent even just a drop of time on Aplós’ site you would realize they pour with a heavy hand when it comes to serving an exceptional customer experience. Aiming for a more engaging and experiential digital experience, the advanced theming and flexible nature of Smartrr’s customer account portal was the perfect fit. Offering their customers far more autonomy than the average subscription program with not only the option to gift your next order but to gift wrap it as well! This goes a long way for the Aplós customer and their bottom line. Currently, Aplós is seeing upwards of 98% retention across a 90 day LTV Smartrr’s customer-first subscription solution - We’ll cheers to that!
With a customer portal optimized for LTV, Smartrr also quenched Aplós’ thirst for an easy-to-use admin portal. The team was looking for a solution where they could seamlessly enhance their subscription programs as they learn more about their customers, create a custom whitelabel experience and pivot their retention strategy when needed. In addition to frictionless tech, Aplós found a true partner in Smartrr’s dedicated customer success manager, Sam. Acting as a guide and often brand advocate, her quick response time and proactive outreach has made Sam an extension of the Aplós team.
Speaking of good company, the third note that hit home for Aplós was that they would be amongst valuable peers and aspirational brands in the beverage industry. Gravitating Shopify merchants who bring an additional level of intentionality to their subscriptions, mission and overall brand experience, Smartrr’s clientele is a community to be a part of. Having grown their subscriptions 148% since June, Aplós now finds itself at home with brands looking to them for inspiration.
In the US, the non-alcoholic beverage industry is now a $331 million market, with investors and customers leaning towards booze-free cocktails and mixers that imitate the real deal. Currently, reports show a 315% increase in non-alcoholic beverages e-commerce sales, a trend Aplós has been long ahead of the curve. Looking forward, the effortless brand has been working towards expanding its product line.