A Tale of Two Kickstarter Campaigns: A $800K Difference from Marketing
On July 24th, only a few weeks after moving to England, I pressed the launch button on Novaline’s most recent Kickstarter campaign. The campaign was for Natsu, a weighted blanket made of bamboo. The main benefits: eco friendly, breathable, and a silkier feel compared to the microfiber of most weighted blankets. We also charged a bit less than existing blankets.
Yesterday (roughly 4 months later) I came across the Kickstarter for Reviv “the affordable & eco-friendly weighted blanket.” The two products (Natsu and Reviv) are nearly identical, even down to color. Bamboo outside, glass sand instead of plastic beads, and the pricing is really close (though somewhat difficult to compare due to different pledge offerings and early bird discounts).
Natsu ended with $4551 and failed to meet its goal. Reviv currently has a bit over $800,000 in pledges.
It’s all down to the marketing, positioning, and possibly timing. Some notable differences between the two campaigns.
We tried super hard to avoid making medical claims or even coming close to it. We thought people would appreciate our rigor. Reviv is just the opposite: they make every effort to suggest medical benefits (PTSD, autism, etc.) without making hard claims. (Which is probably because Gravity, the original weighted blanket, got nailed for making those kinds of claims.)
We pitched Natsu as a good blanket for Summer, because bamboo is breathable and we decreased the weight just a bit to avoid being smothered. Reviv launched near Winter, and pitched their blanket as good for chilling “like a panda”, because of “nanotechnology.” The nanotechnology apparently refers to the fact that the fabric is lyocell. (Nanotech was already pretty advanced when lyocell was developed in 1972, I guess.)
Reviv got better coverage online. Gavin (of Novaline) is the one who found Reviv first, on a list of “The most notable crowdfunding campaigns of the week” on a website he frequents. For Natsu, we tried but failed to get anyone to write about us.
Reviv looks more polished than Natsu, from copy to pledge levels to video. I hate to admit this one, but it’s true. The image quality is (mostly) better, the copy probably went through more editing, everything is covered in greater detail, and there is a bit more energy in the content. It might have helped Reviv a bit to be based in L.A. and it might have hurt Natsu to be based in Utah.
Reviv’s team is dedicated to this product category, while Natsu’s team is not. This is probably the most important thing on the list. We were just using Natsu to learn more about the manufacturing and new product development process. Maybe our soul wasn’t in it enough.
When I saw Reviv, at first I felt bummed, then angry, and now I’ve accepted the facts. I think Reviv did a better job on the marketing and played faster and looser with claims and benefits. It is sobering to see a half a million dollar difference from stuff that is unrelated to the product itself. You can be sure we’re not going to forget this lesson.