From their phones, consumers can control home thermostats, security, doorbells, and lights. With the Pura app, they can control the smell.
Launched in 2015, Pura makes and sells programmable devices that emit fragrances, 250 to be exact. The business has scaled to 180 employees and relies mostly on influencer marketing for sales on its website and via retail partners. Per Crunchbase, the company has raised $4.4 million from outside investors.
Daniel Lacey is Pura’s chief marketing officer. He and I recently spoke, addressing fragrance providers, influencer management, and more. Our entire audio conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for length and clarity.
Eric Bandholz: Give us a rundown of Pura.
Daniel Lacey: Pura is a smart home fragrance device you can control from a phone. The company launched in 2015. We have roughly 180 employees now. I joined four years ago as chief marketing officer. The devices retail for about $45. They hold fragrance pods, which run $10 to $15 and provide scent.
The devices have a lot of cool technology. They go off at individual times, with custom schedules to not waste fragrance. There’s an “away” mode, for example. We partner with some of the largest fragrance brands, such as the Volcano scent from Capri Blue.
Most of our sales are direct-to-consumer on our website. But we’ve established strong retail footholds — Nordstrom, Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Anthropology, to name a few.
I mainly focus on the direct-to-consumer ecommerce strategy. My background is paid social. We found traction early on with Facebook and Instagram ads. We’ve since moved to influencers — with hits and misses.
Bandholz: How do you vet influencers?
Lacey: We have macro- and micro-influencers, an ambassador program, and an affiliate program. Most macro- and micro-influencers typically receive a fee with no affiliate commission. Our ambassador program consists of relatively small influencers in love with Pura. We’ll send them gifts and swag. And we have many traditional affiliate partners who work on a commission basis. We use a shopping discovery app called LTK — Like to Know — paired with Impact software to keep track of affiliates.
Working with influencers is a bit of art and science. Some look good on paper — a large following, great engagement, impressive content — and then they fall short. A better approach is finding folks with similar content and selling tactics as our star influencers. Our influencer team has an excellent eye for that.
Success is generally a combination of the right person, the right content, and the right call-to-action. And, again, it’s not always obvious. It’s nuanced. Our team gets pretty detailed. They keep track of all that. One weak component could doom the results.
Bandholz: No more social media ads?
Lacey: I’m a believer in starting with paid social. It was helpful in the early days with a new product. We were the first in the smart home fragrance space. We had to figure out our messaging and our target audience. Facebook helped do that. We could experiment with, say, a $5 ad and change the messaging and target audience. It’s a great testing platform to find the market fit.
For example, we wondered if smart home automation would appeal to tech-oriented consumers. And pet owners — would they appreciate we’re safe for animals? Casting a wide net on social helped us hone our message and content.
We took those learnings to influencers. We probably worked with 100 of them before getting a solid investment return. It took time.
Bandholz: You have 250 fragrances. That’s a lot.
Lacey: I agree. Every consumer has unique preferences. We now have 32 fragrance partners, each with multiple scents. And many of the influencers have favorites.
Bandholz: Where can listeners support Pura and connect with you?