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361: Maximizing the Marketing Budget and Being Responsibly Irreverent with Ben Mand, CEO at Harmless Harvest

361: Maximizing the Marketing Budget and Being Responsibly Irreverent with Ben Mand, CEO at Harmless Harvest

Ben Mand is the CEO of Harmless Harvest, a pragmatic innovator, and a believer that business can be a force for good. Ben has successfully led Harmless Harvest to more than double its business in four years by transforming it from a brand solely focused on coconut water to a leader in premium functional beverages and plant-based dairy. Under his leadership, Harmless Harvest has streamlined its supply chain, invested over $1 million in Fair for Life and community support initiatives, and transitioned to regenerative organic agricultural practices to bring the company closer to its goal of 100% zero-waste. Ben sees the role of marketing as driving loyalty and advocacy in ways that benefit the business and delight the customer. He sums up his marketing philosophy as being “responsibly irreverent” and notes, “if you’re comfortable with an idea today, it’s going to be boring tomorrow.”

In this episode, Alan and Ben discuss the innovative and adventurous approach he has brought to expanding the product lines at Harmless Harvest and how he is leaning into the Constructive Capitalism model the founders built the company on. Ben tells us that he believes we are past the point of disruption-based marketing and instead focuses on placing the brand in places and, at times, when it makes the most sense that people would be looking for it. Overall, Ben’s pragmatic approach to innovation, the lifelong skill of maximizing a budget, and commitment to the company’s mission-led objectives have transformed Harmless Harvest from an unprofitable business into a durable and scalable company that is making a real difference in the world.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What Constructive Capitalism is and how it looks in practice
  • What they do with the rest of the coconut
  • What it means to be responsibly irreverent

Key Highlights 

  • [01:50] Phoneless in London
  • [04:00] Ben’s path from General Mills to Harmless Harvest
  • [06:40] Harmless Harvest overview: “Constructive Capitalism”
  • [08:20] Ben’s reason for joining Harmless Harvest
  • [11:30] What do you do with the rest of the coconut?
  • [13:40] What are the key insights Ben used to turn the business around?
  • [14:40] New Product Innovation Buildout
  • [16:30] Having a great product can help you overcome 
  • [19:00] Strong velocity allows for expanded distribution 
  • [21:50] Harness Harvest innovations and proprietary methods 
  • [23:40] The state of business today
  • [26:00] What it means to be Responsibly Irreverent 
  • [29:15] Being there when and where your product is most desired 
  • [30:45] Maximizing marketing on a tight budget
  • [33:20] Lessons learned from growing up poor 
  • [36:05] Confidence is key
  • [39:00] Leveraging technology as a lifestyle brand
  • [40:05] Brands to watch
  • [42:30] Marketing is a muscle that is strengthened on the front lines

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