Tuft & Needle Co-Founder JT Marino Says Its Amazon Exclusive “Nod” Brand Is “Taking Off”

We’ve been closely tracking the growth of Amazon’s “Our Brands” program here at TJI, which includes both Amazon’s private label and Amazon Exclusive brands. While many Amazon Exclusive brands are made by relatively unknown entities, a few, like “Nod by Tuft & Needle,” are produced by established brands experimenting with the opportunities afforded by Amazon’s “Our Brands” program.

This morning at the Shoptalk 2019 conference, JT Marino, co-founder of Tuft & Needle, and now chief strategy officer at Serta Simmons Bedding, which merged with T&N last year, offered some comments on how the Nod brand is doing since it launched last November. Here are our notes from what JT shared:

  • Amazon has been an important growth driver for T&N since it launched on Amazon in 2013. T&N has majority of the market share in mattresses that sell for over $500 on Amazon. However, over time a lot of cheap imported brands have been coming in.
  • T&N wanted to experiment with a lower price point, but didn’t want to cannibalize its main brand, and it wasn’t even sure if it could reach a low enough price point to compete with those in that category.
  • The creation of “Nod by Tuft & Needle,” an Amazon Exclusive brand, was T&N’s strategy to attack the lower price point. Thus far, it has exceeded expectations and is “taking off.” Because it’s isolated to Amazon, it’s easier to test and iterate.
  • As for concerns that Amazon would make its own private label mattresses, they did, but Marino said, “We can take a slice of customer needs and really knock it out of the park maybe better than Amazon can.”
  • Marino added, “We are really grateful for our relationship with Amazon. It’s been really critical. Our customers are happy, their customers are happy. We want to be where our customers are. There are always issues [with Amazon] but for the most part it’s been a big success for Tuft & Needle.”

Other notes from discussion of private label brands at Shoptalk this morning:

  • Gil Phipps, VP Branding, Marketing, & Our Brands for Kroger, shared that 92% of Kroger customers by “our brand” items, 1.25 million “our brand” items are sold per hour, and that “our brand” buyers have significantly higher loyalty.
  • Chris Phillips, GM of Stitch Fix Men, Kids & Exclusive Brands at Stitch Fix, added that Stitch Fix has had success tweaking the sizing specs of various exclusive brand items to achieve positive results for customers.
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