DJ Dikic, co-founder of Tint, sits down with host Mark Jones to discuss disrupting the paint industry to provide a ‘joyful’ customer experience (CX) and direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales and marketing strategy.
Australia Post recently revealed due to the COVID-19 pandemic online purchases have grown rapidly – up 31% in April at 5.2 million, compared to the 2019 average.
Social distancing restrictions have seen direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands in their heyday – with customers opting to buy online and home deliver their purchases rather than brave traditional retailers and risk potential exposure.
Acknowledging this uptick in preference of online shopping and the potential for the trend to continue post-pandemic, how can brands work to deliver better customer experiences (CX) and therefore foster strong customer relationships – all while the competition is only a click away?
DJ Dikic, co-founder of Tint – a new Australian colour technology and direct-to-consumer paint brand – says impetus on innovation during times of disruption, and solving pain points along the customer journey are the answer.
“We looked at the whole customer journey and thought that there’s got to be a way to make buying paint a joyful human experience, and therefore turn it more into a lifestyle decision rather than a kind of chore,” DJ says.
After Tint released the Palette Pico colour reader device and smartphone app – world-first paint matching tech that lets customers walk up to a colour and record it instantly – DJ and team realised there existed an opportunity to improve the overall customer experience of buying paint.
“We had this really long standing relationship with the paint market around the world and knew the ins and outs of how things worked, and could really see the move to online and digital becoming a thing,” DJ says.
“The statistic that stood out to me when we were first getting our heads around it was that only 1% of the $150 billion paint industry was online.”
DJ says that this insight gave the brand cause to listen and learn from their customers, and to make decorating a space a fun, simple and rewarding experience.
“We decided to launch our own direct-to-consumer paint brand to show how you can use technology to make everything about paint better,” DJ says.
“If you take out all those pain points of buying paint, it’s a fun journey, and the final result is something you can really cherish and be joyful on because it’s easier.”
Tune into this episode of The CMO Show to find out how Tint is making strides in Australia’s new retail landscape, and the ins and outs of direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales and marketing strategy.
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The CMO Show production team
Producers – Charlotte Goodwin & Stephanie Woo
Audio Engineers – Tom Henderson & Daniel Marr
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Host: Mark Jones
Guest: DJ Dikic
Mark Jones: Selling your products direct-to-consumers is a business model that cuts out the middleman, such as a traditional retailer. Think Koala mattresses, Tesla’s design and order store, or Nike online – the list goes on and on.
The idea is to give customers a better experience, and sometimes save money. As we continue to favour this ‘click and deliver’ approach, a new challenge is looming on the horizon. How can brands foster better customer relationships and loyalty when the competition is only a click away?
Mark Jones: Hello friends! Mark Jones here. How are you doing? It’s great to have you with us again on The CMO Show podcast. My guest today is DJ Dikic, he is co-founder of Tint, which is a new Australian direct-to-consumer paint brand. So yes, that’s right! We are going to talk about paint today, and we’ve invited him on the show because I think Tint has an interesting story. Who would have thought you could disrupt the paint industry?
Now, if you’ve experienced the frustration and joy of painting your house you’ll know that it’s not simple, and it is certainly not quick. Sometimes it costs more than you thought it would! IThis process has also been disrupted by COVID-19. Of course, until recently, at least in Australia, it was difficult to leave the house and go buy your paint, certainly in the ways that we were used to.
Well, that’s all changing. Tint’s story is an interesting one as you buy your paint directly from the source, from their warehouse, and they ship it straight to your door. So this is a story about innovation, disruption, customer experience and how you educate consumers and change behaviour.
So here is DJ Dikic, he is co-founder of Tint. Let’s hear what he’s got to say.
Mark Jones: DJ Dikic, welcome to the show.
DJ Dikic: Hey Mark, thanks for having me.
Mark Jones: You’re in Melbourne at the moment. And as I understand it, your office and warehouse are co-located. Give us a quick sketch if you like, or perhaps paint the picture, if you can permit the pun.
DJ Dikic: That’s a very, very good start to the episode. I’m liking it.
Mark Jones: What’s going on at your end?
DJ Dikic: So we’re in a kind of, we’ve got a warehouse and our office in the same location. And the reason to do that was to kind of accelerate the learning between what we’re doing on the marketing side and how well the business is going in terms of sales. But then on the other side, how do we actually fulfil and distribute as quickly as possible and make sure that those two things aren’t really linked. So sometimes it means it’s a bit of a challenging and a cold environment, especially in winter in Melbourne, but it’s been very worth it.
Mark Jones: Excellent. Well, I’m sure you’ve got all the appropriate colours to keep you warmer perhaps as well. So that’s second. We’re going to be having lots of paint puns by the way in this episode. Now, tell me about how the brand began. Many people won’t be familiar with it just simply due to the brand awareness of all the major paint brands, Dulux and others, right? So tell us about Tint.
DJ Dikic: Absolutely. So we have been running for about six months now. So we launched just end of 2019 December. And as you can imagine, it’s a very interesting time to get the brand up and running, but the story goes back a little bit further back than just last year. We’re actually a colour technology company. Some people may have heard of cold palette and we still produce a range of devices that can measure colours. That was kind of like our core, as a technology business. And in fact, we sold some of our devices to Dulux and they were selling them to professional painters here in Australia prior to us even becoming Tint.
DJ Dikic: And so we had this really long standing relationship with the paint market around the world and knew the ins and outs of how things worked, and could really see the move to online and digital becoming a thing. And the statistic that stood out to me when we were first getting our heads around, well, should we become a paint brand? Because as you can imagine, that’s a pretty big decision to shift gears from being a tech brand to suddenly becoming direct-to-consumer retail brand-
Mark Jones: And potentially start competing with your partners by the way.
DJ Dikic: Absolutely. So, a very considered decision, as you can imagine.
Mark Jones: Yeah.
DJ Dikic: But it was overwhelmingly, obvious. The statistic was that only 1% of the $150 billion paint industry was online. So if you compare that against the kind of classic retail, it’s something like 20 to 25% is your average across the various kind of verticals that is online. And so at 1% was hugely out of proportion or not representative of the global market shift. And so we thought, well, there’s something here and our products and this thing about digital colour, we thought was the way to kind of open that opportunity up.
Mark Jones: Yeah.
DJ Dikic: And so we decided to actually launch our own direct-to-consumer paint brand to show how that’s possible, how you can use technology to make everything about paint better.
Mark Jones: So let’s understand the heartbeat of this brand, because I think that’s what I’m interested in is you’ve got the startup idea, right? So we need to take paint online. Let’s just actually for a minute talk about emotion and I’m fascinated by emotion from a marketing and brand perspective because that’s actually storytelling impacts our emotion and emotion and our value systems is what actually inspires or informs the decisions we make.
Mark Jones: So it seems to me that, and looking at your story, you’ve been really going after the emotions of paint buyers and more specifically home decorators, right? You’ve got this vision of what this thing’s going to look like, and as we all know, homes are enormously emotive because it’s where we live, right? So tell me about how you’ve approached that psychology, if you like, of paint buying.
DJ Dikic: Well, I think you’ve hit it absolutely on the head that paint is an additive process that enhances your personal space. It makes it home basically. You can turn a rental into something that’s more akin to your long-term home or it can refresh your space if you’ve got a baby on the way, and it’s got this very intrinsic human quality to it. And oftentimes, it’s the first thing we turn to when we’re moved to a new house.
DJ Dikic: But on the opposite side of things, when you look at the actual customer journey that was available to people, and everyone’s got this, a version of this story. Everything from picking the colour, which is overwhelming and there’s a lot of confusion about what should I buy, and what’s the trends, and there’s 5,000 plus colours and where do I even begin? So people go on this really complicated colour inspiration journey without much support from the brands. Then once you pick the colour or you’ve narrowed it down, you have to kind of get these heavy pots and take them home and actually put colour on your wall and kind of damage it in the process of deciding.
DJ Dikic: So it puts people off from actually starting the whole process and that felt like a not very human thing to do or as a solution for this problem. And then once you’ve picked a colour, then you have to go to the store and then you have to pick from dozens and dozens of paint products that are all kind of masculine and technical sounding and hiding behind branding and kind of like not very clear in what their features and benefits and how they compare against each other. So there’s all sorts of pricing strategies and crazy kind of stuff going on in the retail of most paint products. And then finally, of course you have to take that home and it’s heavy and it’s annoying. And you probably have to pick up some tools where you forgot to do to get the tools out to go back to the shop. So we just looked at this whole journey and realise it’s incredibly fragmented.
DJ Dikic: So there’re the brands that help you with colour, and then there’s the retailer who actually sells the product and they’re not speaking to each other and they’re not really supporting you as a customer through that whole journey. And taking it back to that human thing, it ends up being that this really personal experience becomes a very kind of frustrating-
Mark Jones: Yeah.
DJ Dikic: … and then you kind of get the product home and you’re just like, I’d kind of been bothered painting now, so forget about it. And so we looked at this whole thing and thought, well, there’s got to be a way to own the whole journey, to solve for it, and make buying paint kind of a joyful human experience and therefore turn it more into a lifestyle decision rather than a kind of a chore.
Mark Jones: Which leads me to the next important question any marketer will say is, who’s your target audience?
DJ Dikic: Well, it turns out that everyone buys paint. It’s a very broad application for the product. But for Tint and a kind of all this phase, we knew that we could speak to the home renovator because they’re the ones who aren’t looking at paint that often. And so when they kind of begin their journey, they’re feeling a lot of anxiety and confusion about where to even start, how do I pick the right colour?
DJ Dikic: And so we invented a whole bunch of things around these amazing large format colour stickers that we call them colour samples, so you can actually order them. We sent them to you with the same speed as, the next day delivery, same as you’d get your paint and you can peel and put them up on your wall and see what the colour looks like. And so we thought we could help the home renovator the most to start off with, because they’re the ones who are kind of most confused by the current system or the current way of selling.
Mark Jones: Right. But what research did you do into the home renovator persona? Like how did you get to understand how they think and feel, particularly interested in male and female here too, by the way?
DJ Dikic: I think we had like a lot of personal experience with … My wife and I had renovated a few places ourselves. I have a very passionate mother-in-law who likes to paint as well and get things done around the house. So we had a few kinds of demographics in mind of who we were speaking to and why they’re looking at online as a better option than going into a store, but it wasn’t like a multi week trial with different customer types and analysis. It’s more just by gut.
Mark Jones: No fair enough when you’re a startup and that’s entirely appropriate, right? But it does strike me, and I think this is a really important part of your story is, when you are designing a brand and you’re designing a product, having that idea in your head about who this person is and how they’ll feel, is core, right? So what you’re saying is that we kind of went on gut and experience and just this sense that there’s a giant hole there and you struck gold that might appear, right?
Mark Jones: So, I think that’s an interesting aspect of your lesson, right?
DJ Dikic: Well, there’s two things there. So number one is, we did know from data of our own users, for instance as I said, we are selling to professional painters our colour devices through our pallet technology business. And we know that they’re scanning a colour and then they’re sending a text message to their shop, if you know mate who owns the local shop and say, “I want 10 litres of that colour. And I want 12 litres of that colour.” And we could see this behaviour. We didn’t plan it, we didn’t build an app around it or kind of a service offer. It was a natural extension to digitising colour. And it was the first indication that actually people wanted to do this.
DJ Dikic: So we had that pretty strong indicator from our current users who were professional painters. So a little bit different from the home renovator. But then as you said, I think we kind of took the jump and said, what we’re building a brand for here and trying to solve for is everyday people, and we might as well build it for ourselves and what we would like to see, because we’re just as representative of this space as anybody, any one group and it’s a very broad category. So let’s go out and build a brand that’s focused on the human qualities, the transformative potential of paint, and we take out all the pain points that seems like a pretty strong place to start.
Mark Jones: Now let’s talk about fashion. And, of course, paint is no exception to fashion and things that are on trend and not, and apparently you’ve got something around 70 different colours. So how did you narrow it down from the thousands that are out there, and how are you going to keep up with it? Like, what’s the approach? Do you have a paint fashion consultant for one of a better term?
DJ Dikic: So, we’re in this really interesting and fortunate position where we’ve got thousands of our users around the world using our colour measurement devices, and they have an app that then records what colours are being scanned. So we can see what colours are trending around the world every single day. And I can see what’s the difference between Amsterdam versus New York versus Naples. And I can see the difference between spring and summer and winter and autumn. And we have something like a 100,000 colours every month scanned fresh from our users all around the world.
DJ Dikic: So we had this amazing ability to take all that data and look at what the trending fashions were around colour. And we kind of combine that with the thinking that there’s a too much confusion, there’s too many colour options out there, and so people kind of get really lost in that colour journey. So we thought if we could narrow it down to a really great curated collection of 71 colours, based on what people are actually scanning around the world, then we should have a pretty nice palette that people would conquer on with. And that’s really the key here, is that it’s a small number in relation to most brands, but it’s plenty and you can get a really great feel for them. You can’t go wrong.
Mark Jones: What’s interesting about that experience and just sort of tapping that into the customer journey you mentioned before, I know for myself on big paint jobs, we did an entire house inside and out some years ago where she got a paint consultant. I can’t remember what we paid her, but it wasn’t insignificant.
Mark Jones: It strikes me that you’re disintermediating the paint consultant, if you like the person who does interior design to some extent, as well as other parts of the supply chain, because it’s direct-to-consumer. So how important is that sense of being disruptive again, a classic startup play, right? What industries can we disrupt? Are you intentionally trying to disrupt these things or is it more of a by-product?
DJ Dikic: I don’t think we’re intentionally trying to disrupt the process of picking a colour. We’re just trying to make it easier for everyday people. So, reducing the number of colours down still means that a lot of people would actually work with a consultant or a designer to come up with a range that they would like across their house. But just might mean a simpler conversation to have-
Mark Jones: Right.
DJ Dikic: … and maybe more driven by the homeowner as well. And you asked me earlier whether we were going to expand this collection and we are certainly working with designers as we speak to do curated collections where it’s kind of like added colour of the season or of the moment. It’s a bit of a collab. So we’re taking more of a fashion vibe to it rather than here’s the 2021 collection and it’s from up high and it’s kind of, this is the new collection. We’re being a bit more dynamic, a bit more fun with it, working with interesting people who’ve got their own stories and aren’t thinking, and being very collaborative about how we come up with this colours.
Mark Jones: So is there going to be like a Pantone colour of the year challenger? Is that what you’re heading? Like the colour combinations of the year or whatever it might be?
DJ Dikic: Funnily enough, we do have the Pantone Colour of the Year. So we have an official partnership with Pantone. So out of our 71 colours, we’ve got about 15 Pantone colours and the 16th is the Colour of the Year 2020. And yeah, Pantone is a great colour reference and most people who are in the design space, know and love their colour range. And so we thought that, that was a great place to start to include some of those fantastic colours.
Mark Jones: That’s very clever. Now, before we get to some of your marketing activities, I also wanted to ask one more question around the product itself in your approach. The question of sustainability seems to have been high on your agenda as I’ve read it. Apparently it’s vegan, non odorous and low VOC, and antibacterial. So VOC is the smell, the fumes right?
DJ Dikic: Volatile organic compounds.
Mark Jones: Yeah, right.
DJ Dikic: And it can contribute to smells.
Mark Jones: So vegan, what does that … What’s the reference there for those playing at home, not up on paint technology?
DJ Dikic: What we’re referring to is that there’s no animal by-products in the product, and there’s no animal testing that goes into the product. So, people who are vegan or even just tangentially interested in this kind of thing don’t just look at what can I eat and is it vegan? It’s also, what am I consuming? What are the products that I’m using? Are they sustainable? Are they animal-based or not? And what’s the impact they have in the broader environment?
DJ Dikic: So it’s a kind of a considered choice.
Mark Jones: Yeah. Okay. I must say I really do like that, and particularly the renewable energy focus as well. But I understand you guys have with your own office space. How core is that to your own journey or is it a reflection of where you think the market is going, tempt to what they expect of brands?
DJ Dikic: I think it’s a bit of both, and that’s fantastic. There’s a lot of pressure on the market right now to say that brands have to do more. But we’ve also always taken the approach as a technology company that our products have to have a long life and they have to be useful across a long period of time, and we’re all about reducing the wastage of paper collateral. For instance, when you’re picking a colour, a lot of those colour samples are pretty wasteful. They never get reused and sample pots and things to choosing colour and those kinds of aspects of the customer journey.
DJ Dikic: We just said, we can take them all out and if we can take them out, then actually it simplifies the customer journey. It reduces the overall impact of that journey, and it’s a fantastic … So it just made sense from the beginning. And so, as you said, we run our entire office where I’m recording from that right now, the warehouse, in fact, off of renewables and it just kind of, it creates a lot of opportunities that we don’t even anticipate, but have become more and more interesting as a brand, as we’ve kind of got up and running.
Mark Jones: That’s great. So tell me about your marketing. As a startup, is marketing like most startups a pretty low budget scrappy, or are you getting quite clever about it and investing a few bucks? What’s your starting position on this?
DJ Dikic: Oh, well, I mean, there’s an element of being scrappy. Isn’t it always trying to figure things out, but I think we’ve been quite sophisticated with the approach, which as you’ve mentioned right at the top, there’s a lot of brand awareness with the big names in the space, and people, even if they don’t know what the difference between the brands are, they know of them. And so we understood that to get into this space and to reach people with our message about making the whole process simple and very human, we had to be seen to be at that kind of stature in some regard. So, part of our strategy has been doing large format billboards.
DJ Dikic: On the Tullamarine Freeway, coming to the city, we launched with one pretty massive billboard, and there’s a funny story about that, I’ll tell you one day. But we’ve got a few of those kind of kicking around and we’ve got rock posters and we’re sort of reaching people in unexpected places, I guess, for our online brand. And that’s kind of creating the overall impression of bringing the brand up in terms of awareness to match the larger players in the space.
DJ Dikic: And then of course, there’s a whole combination of performance marketing that happens in the nitty gritty of scale on Google and Instagram and social, and there’s a whole platform play that we’re doing there, but I’m reaching people where they’re perhaps at the beginning of the colour journey, where they’re most receptive to looking at this problem ahead of them and thinking, how do I even get my head around this? So that’s been a really strong and important place to be to reach them.
Mark Jones: Right. So it sounds like a mix of traditional outdoor and other traditional forms of media, plus a sophisticated approach to digital, because you have to, as you’re saying, you’ve got a big market opportunity, you’ve got big competitors, you’ve really got to make a splash. What’s unifying your strategy? How are you bringing it all together?
DJ Dikic: Well, we’re focusing on this … I think this as we’ve elaborated a few times, this series of challenges that people face when they’re buying paint and it could be colour, it could be picking the product, it could be the fact that you can’t get delivered, so you have to go to the store. So it’s this journey that we’re talking to. And it’s been really responsive, really receptive message for the market because people really identify with how hard it is to buy paint. Everyone’s got their own war stories about like, I did this, I got the colour wrong, or I’ve got an extra can of paint that I’ve just kept in the garage just in case I need it, because I’ll never find that same colour again. There’s all these kind of layers to it. So it’s a tremendous trove of opportunity for us as marketers to talk to people.
Mark Jones: Okay. What’s working out of all of the channels that you’ve picked? What’s the one that’s really getting you excited?
DJ Dikic: I think it’s actually the mix and the combination of all that’s got me really excited, because people … I think it was maybe, let’s say four or five years ago, you could launch a direct-to-consumer brand and you could do only like Instagram and Facebook, because Facebook ads are very cheap and you could kind of reach people who are looking for online and certain verticals. But these days you have to be quite broad and have a kind of integrated solution across all the different possible channels and including magazines and printed media.
DJ Dikic: Not just online as you might think. Online brand, we only advertise online, but actually it’s the whole mix of platforms and channels that’s got me really excited because we’re now seeing a really interesting development on customer journeys and how they interact with a brand and the experience and how they come back to us and reach them through various touch points, whether it’s the app that we’ve got and so they might download that and then play around with how we developed a fun little extension to the app called Tinter.
DJ Dikic: So it’s kind of like Tinder, but for colours and you can swipe left or right to get your next colour crush. So in some forms you can say that’s not really a colour selection journey. It’s not really like a tool per se. It’s more of a marketing brand awareness, because it’s basically just fun and it’s a little fun thing, but that’s an option that we can deploy as a small company because we have a technology business that already exists and we can kind of integrate all these things across the various channels. And that becomes a really interesting mix.
Mark Jones: Okay, how did you then develop the messages and the story that would underpin all of that? What was the process you went through?
DJ Dikic: we had to understand the pain of vine paint as we call it. And oftentimes the highlight of that process was a sausage on the way out of the retailer. And so that didn’t seem like a great highlight to have that journey. And so understanding what those pain points were, meant that we could really articulate how buying paint online and making colour selection easier and having these great sample stickers and delivering straight to your door, so you don’t have to worry about going back and forth to the shop and all those kind of things, just naturally fell out of understanding the customer journey and how people struggle with buying paint today.
Mark Jones: So in other words, you’ve been really informed by the how it works story. For you it’s all about education on how this thing works, because I mean, you’ve got a brand awareness story, which is one thing, and you’ve got outdoor, which is, hey, by the way, we’re Tint, et cetera, I imagine. And then it’s really, because in product marketing, it’s quite interesting. Sometimes it’s a how it works story and other times it’s an outcome’s story. So really for you, the big difference is really digging into the experience of using it, not the end result, right? It’s not the, “Oh, wow. And now it looks great.”
DJ Dikic: Well, of course, it has to look great and it makes you feel happy when you’ve completed. But the challenge with paint is that the current process of buying it has been so complicated.
Mark Jones: Yeah.
DJ Dikic: People don’t get to feel that reward. They don’t get to feel satisfied because it’s a chore. And so we wanted to make it as clear as possible that actually, if you take out all those pain points, it’s a fun journey, and the final result is something you can really cherish and be joyful on because it’s easier, and so then it’s more accessible to people. So it’s kind of a combination of both making the process really simple and talking about that specifically, and that’s kind of like very specific targets for messaging, but then also then saying that, that means that you can actually have this experience and have a nice space at home today.
Mark Jones: Right.
Mark Jones: But your point of difference as a brand isn’t necessarily the end result, because I could be just as happy with the colour from another provider on my wall as yours, right? I mean, the end result is the colour I wanted hopefully. I actually feel better about the colour at the end because of the journey I went through. It’s actually you front-loaded it, which I think is an important thing. For people who are listening, if we’re comparing your journey to others, it would seem that there’s a really great lesson here in knowing which aspect of the journey will better reflect your own position in the market space, which is your unique differentiator in here and quite clearly that’s where this opportunity is.
Mark Jones: And it’s almost, kind of reflectively it’s remarkable. It’s taken us this long to get here. Again, speaking as someone who I’ve been painting houses for 20 years or more at different points in time and I’m pretty well educated on the process, but I almost got to a point of just being, you just kind of accept the pain that’s involved in this whole thing, right? So that’s the interesting part of your story to me, it seems that yeah, when we unlock a process that is new, different and better, there is an opportunity to tell that story in a way that kind of actually marries it more with the consumer vibe. It’s kind of what we do. It can be a social experience. It can be something that couples work together on, for example, or families, right?
DJ Dikic: Yeah. So you’re spot on. And actually it’s a customer journey understanding and that’s key in the end, but in some markets and some product types, the complexity of the existing status quo means that people don’t engage with it very often. So the average repaint cycle for a customer today is every seven years they’ll actually like repaint their house. And that’s a really long time. And when you think about like, you might buy, ended up with another couple of pieces of furniture, or build out a new closet or change your wardrobe or whatever it might be, changing cookware.
DJ Dikic: Seven years is a long time for something that is actually very easy to apply, and it’s a very transformative impact to your space. And so when we look at this customer journey and how to make it simpler and make buying paint and actually painting simple, it’s all about increasing the frequency so that people actually feel confident and can do this and engage with the process more often.
DJ Dikic: And so implicitly, what that means is it’s more of a lifestyle choice. It’s more of a fashion choice. It’s more of the time I feel like doing this and I can do it and so maybe I will do it. And that’s a really pretty important shift that we think we can help people go down so they don’t look at it as a big, giant chore. They look at it as a really fun opportunity to do it. And that’s to date, bearing out in our kind of success so far and the customer journeys we’re seeing.
Mark Jones: Nice, which leads me to ask, how have you gone with COVID-19. It’s obviously the standard question for any organisation, but are you seeing more uptick, because of the fact that we’re all at home and staring at these blank walls?
DJ Dikic: Yeah. So, I mean, it’s changing on an everyday basis. I’m recording here in Victoria and we’ve got, this is early July and it’s kind of like potentially a second wave coming in. It’s a very uncertain period for everybody. But we’ve been very fortunate and incredibly thankful for being an online business that is able to continue operating, and we’re not unconscious about the nice … The privilege of that affords us to still be able to serve our customers. And the second thing that happened as a result of all this was, as you said, people are at home and actually finally thinking, well, what am I going to do? I’ve been putting this off, maybe I’ll take this opportunity to paint the house, paint the living room or the kids’ room, whatever it might be.
DJ Dikic: And so, for our case it was a massive boost in business, to be honest. I mean, it was something like 12 times, our weekly sales just went up through the roof and more or less sustained that level since, and in fact had been adding to it. So, suddenly people who were previously kind of inclined to just go the shop and figure out that, just go through the steps because there might suck, but I’ll get through it and I know what they look like. Now they’re looking for an online alternative and so, as I said, incredibly fortunate to be in this kind of a position where it met people were looking for an online solution. So hey, we just launched, we are available and it was kind of in some ways, good timing as morbid as that is.
Mark Jones: Yeah. Obviously, circumstances aside for the trauma that many of us have gone through, I think you’re right. It’s an incredible timing for your business. And I wonder what lessons you’ve learned that you’ll carry through from that in terms of marketing. What’s the rules that you would share to really getting that right.
DJ Dikic: Yeah. I think it was in about mid-March when people started kind of, the F1 had been cancelled here in Melbourne and things were looking quite grim and very uncertain future. A lot of people naturally, and we had a baby on the way, she was born late April. So we were very much in this category of kind of like, what does this really mean for society in general?
Mark Jones: Congratulations by the way.
DJ Dikic: Thank you, yeah. But we realised that we could try and offer a bit of positivity through this time. So we launched what we call the isolate and decorate challenge, which was actually kind of a positive movement to take the opportunity while you’re at home to transform your space and do something productive, do something nice around the home. And so we kind of got that up and running and had just a tremendous response from people who were looking for some slivers of positivity and something to latch onto the beak excited about.
DJ Dikic: And we just had this really great response from people who were saying, “Yeah, I’m going to isolate, do the right thing, but I’m going to take it as opportunity to decorate whether it’s painting, whether it’s just fluffing up my cushions. It doesn’t really matter. I’m just being positive about this moment.” And it was a really great lesson for us that, if we’re in tune with what our customers are experiencing, because that’s what we’re experiencing as well, then we can kind of try and offer some solutions and a better experience for them too.
Mark Jones: So how are you curating and moderating the social communities in that context? Because when you put those sorts of things out, obviously you hope it starts to get a bit of a momentum. What are you doing that might be different to other people?
DJ Dikic: I think we certainly did our own kind of like staff-based challenges. So we had one of our staff members paint their toilet roll holder and their basin and a few kind of bits and pieces. And then we had another one who did a mirror and then we kind of did it. And I painted here in our office, because I was still at the office and continued working. So I painted one of our walls here. So we kind of seeded it in some way, and then you start challenging people and I challenged Karl Stefanovic over and he was at the time he was kind of like shouting out to Australian businesses and this kind of stuff.
DJ Dikic: So he reshared it on Insta. So it kind of just naturally became a thing. And then we had a lot of just really fun and exciting projects come out of it. And it’s become I think a really positive thing that people associate the brand with. And all we were trying to do really was to say, it didn’t have to be painted. It was just do anything at home to try and make it a little bit of a nicer experience.
Mark Jones: What role did paid social having the campaign because obviously that’s what a lot of people are thinking about now with organic reach being an issue. I mean, it sounds like you’ve got a great story, but really what does it take to really give it a push?
DJ Dikic: Well, we didn’t do any paid advertising against that campaign. We actually just seeded it out and had people kind of latch onto it. And I think that’s part of the fun of it is actually you try some of these things that don’t necessarily always work. So you’re experimenting pretty frequently, but this one just kind of picked up and it was really picked up by a lot of people. That’s not to say that we don’t do social advertising as you can imagine. It’s one of our main performance advertising platforms, but in the actual isolate and decorate campaign, we just let that kind of run it by itself, and it’s been fun to see the organic growth.
Mark Jones: What’s your perspective on diversity? And we’ve seen this big trend in marketing where actually brands need to be quite conscious that we’re not just appealing to a certain psyche, but there’s huge opportunities. So what’s your view on that and how have you incorporated that into your marketing?
DJ Dikic: Yeah. So we’ve taken the view, we just looked at our own team and said, what’s the kind of the makeup of people that we have who are passionate about making paint a fun experience. And we’ve got a broad range of ages, we’ve got a broad range of ethnicities, we’ve got a pretty even split across the genders. And it just seemed like a …. It wasn’t really a question. It wasn’t really a discussion point to have about what was our strategy to say it that way. It was kind of, we just wanted to have people who represented what was out of kind of normality here at the office and our experience.
DJ Dikic: And so actually in the early days, when we first got the brand up and running, it was mostly our friends who had modelling for us, and so if you can imagine the brand campaigns that we were producing, they’re more just reflections of our particular groups. And as we said earlier, we really thought paint was about being inclusive and being a broad category so that everybody could feel like they could do this, whether you’re a homeowner, renter, single family, mother-in-law or whatever it was, you could take this on and own this really joyful experience of transforming your space.
DJ Dikic: Whereas a lot of the existing brands tend to … I’m not going to say that they exclude genders, but they definitely have certain kind of archetypes of, here’s the blokey bloke with his tool rack, and he’s going to get the paint done, or there’s the kind of the design mom who’s kind of like exploring colours and like really into it. But we said, no, like actually everybody falls within those categories at different points in their life. Sometimes they want to pick up the tools, sometimes they just want to play with colours. It doesn’t really make sense to split them out that way. So it was a kind of a bit of a natural reaction to just what we thought was happening in the market and speaking broadly to people that we thought we could reach with this message and also the makeup of the team that we have and wanting to be true to that.
Mark Jones: Well, look, it’s been great to talk to you because you said you started in December with this current business, so a seven month old business that is generating quite a bit of buzz and potentially disrupting a multi-billion dollar industry, it’s quite interesting. Do you have a sense of what the next six months will hold or, give us a sense of how you’re planning for the future?
DJ Dikic: Yeah. So as you spoke earlier, we focus mainly on the home renovator market, but there’s a whole range of people in this space that are more professional in their usage of the product of paint or specifications. So we’re just getting started in how we’re talking to various customer groups. So, that’s a big focus for us going forward, and expanding our product range. So right now we’ve got a pretty good four litre can that most people buy if they go to the shop. But we’re about to launch an expanded range on that so that we have one litre cans for people who want to do little key projects or just their front door, or 10 litres if they’re doing a bigger job or if they got more professional focus. So, it’s going to be a really exciting time to just naturally expand from this, I think pretty decent base we built in the first six months.
DJ Dikic: we are quite fortunate with this, with the COVID stuff to be in this privileged position, but that could change, it could shift and we don’t really know where that’s going to end up. So there’s certainly an element of kind of keeping track of how things are going and monitoring things. But for now I think we’ve just got to keep on keep pushing on, we’ve got a great product, people are giving us fantastic reviews and telling us how much they appreciate that experience more than they could have imagined buying paint being a fun process. So we’re doing something right. So we’re just going to keep doing it and that’s really exciting.
Mark Jones: Well, DJ, I really appreciate your time being on the show with us today. I certainly know what I’ll be doing next time I get this opportunity. I’ll check you guys out. And it’s an interesting approach that you guys are taking. I’ll be watching it with a lot of interest and all the best.
DJ Dikic: Thank you, Mark. It’s been a real pleasure being on the show.
Mark Jones: So that was DJ Dikic, it was great to have him on the show! I hope you enjoyed our interview. One of the things I’ve been reflecting on from our conversation is how DJ, like many startups, doesn’t have time or budget for expensive consumer research.
So you just go with your gut, you try out a new idea, you’ve got a target audience in mind, your friends and family, or this person you imagine in your head and see what happens. Sometimes we call this being agile or flexible, if we want to dress it up, but I think it’s a great way of constantly refining your offerings to suit the market. If you’ve got the capital and the wherewithal to try out something, then I think it is a really great approach. It’s actually kind of freeing, we’re seeing the impact that that is having for Tint.
The other thing of course is this customer data that Tint is gathering from across the world. It is truly impressive. You think about the colours, the behaviours and how it feeds into this concept of colour is fashion. I think it’s a great sign of what’s to come in terms of direct to consumer companies using data to constantly iterate based on customer behaviour, their preferences and their insights. I am just fascinated by that.
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