February 28, 2023
Episode 3

Mike De Santis, Marketing at Canopy

Meet Mike De Santis, the founding marketer at Canopy, and Director of Business Operations. Canopy is the first beauty-focused humidifier and a byproduct of Doris Dev, a full-suite product development agency. . 

In this episode, we will learn the backstory of Canopy and how it’s sold over 100k units in 3 years, and how it manages to get a 80% subscription rate on its filters.

What’s the story behind Canopy?

The idea was inspired almost ten years ago, but the company started around 2018. Founder, Lucas Lappe saw his girlfriend manically cleaning her humidifier weekly with vinegar and Q-tips. It required ongoing maintenance because it constantly collected dirt particles. Lucas, Mike, and the Doris Dev team (product development agency and parent company of Canopy) started to dig into the pains associated with humidifier use and realized they could make something better. They also realized that Lucas’ girlfriend and many other women, were using the humidifier as a daily skincare hack, and decided to position Canopy, as a humidifier for beauty and wellness. 

Mike’s background story

Mike started in DTC at Raden, where he met Justin Seidenfeld, the other co-founder of Doris Dev. After Rayden, he worked at a couple of agencies focusing on branding, visual design, and web experience. In 2019, Mike was brought in to work on the brand identity for Canopy, and joined full-time shortly thereafter. And from there took over the customer experience and all things marketing (website, social, performance, etc).  He would start each function and then hire people to take over. Currently, Mike owns marketing strategy and digital experience.

How Canopy launched

Canopy launched DTC, but moved to Omnichannel quickly. It launched it’s e-commerce site in October 2020, but simultaneously had a parallel path to launch its first retailer - Violet Grey. Violet Grey, is a boutique retailer with a lot of credibility. Since then, Canopy has launched in Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Blue Mercury, and Sephora. 

Today the channel breakdown is primarily DTC to the tune of 90%, but retail is becoming a more significant part of the strategy. “You build your brand online, but you build your business in retail,” says Mike, and hopes the retail business dwarfs DTC one day. 

Canopy has sold almost 100K units and has over 50K subscribers to its filter refill plans. 

How do you think about selecting and supporting retail partners?

Different retailers have different expectations and requirements. As a brand, you’ll also have priorities and should pick your most strateic retailers versus trying to get in every single one. For instance, marquee retailers like Sephora will require more time and resources, because growth in that retailer will create a positive downstream impact for the brand. In the case of high-profile brands, Mike and his team will drive paid traffic to their websites, invest in-store build-outs, and in some cases do events. They also exploring a geofencing and retargeting tactic as well. 

How does Canopy think about the end-to-end consumer experience?

Canopy was built as a subscription product with a need-to-have and nice-to-have component. What that means for Canopy is the presence of a filter in the humidifier for it to work. That filter degrades and needs to be replaced every six weeks. 85% of customers sign up for one of their subscriptions: a basic filter package for $10 or filter plus aroma for $25 every 6 weeks. The aroma package is a nice brand lever for co-marketing with brands serving similar customers. It’s also a surprise and delight for those who get the variety pack. A two-tier subscription makes the subscription stickier, i.e. people are likely to get one with two choices. 

Retention is an important strategy for Canopy. They brought in a full-time headcount to own retention last year. The primary goal is to nurture the customer base over a long period. They also transitioned to Attentive for SMS and are using it for limited edition product drops. Having a good product, a strong community, and valuable touch points are all important parts of retention. 

A key piece of the retention strategy is using QR codes to collect information from retail customers they couldn’t otherwise reach. Canopy has a warranty program and uses a QR code to drive registration. This integration is powered by Brij. It is a critical connection because units sold in retail don’t come with a subscription. They also use QR codes on the aroma packages, so people can replenish their favorite scents at any time. 

What’s next for Canopy?

Mike is most excited about upcoming website updates. It’s been a while since the last major update, and much is needed to improve the user experience. They also have 2-3 new products in the launch pipeline for 2023. There is also a hiring sprint to power ambition plans for 2023 and beyond. Mike is also excited to see and hear more and more live stories of Canopy use in the wild.

Lightning Round

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Soft Surfaces

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Compound and Friends

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Nik Sharma

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Build by Tony Fadell 

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South by Southwest