How Riff Raff & Co Grew by Leveraging Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Samuel Hum
Samuel Hum
February 18, 2019
2 min read
How Riff Raff & Co Grew by Leveraging Word-of-Mouth Marketing

In this article

Riff Raff & Co is an Australian company that specializes in soft, comforter-style sleeping dolls for babies and toddlers. Their vision is to provide better sleep to babies, and as importantly their parents all around the world.

Founded in May 2016, Riff Raff & Co is currently a million-dollar company with more than 50,000 happy parents (and babies!) who adore their products.

Let's take a look at what Riff Raff & Co did to build up their customer base and increase sales:

1. Riff Raff & Co was created to solve existing problems with baby sleeping aids.

A toy that would serve both babies and parents

Sometime in 2015, founder Emma Kruger was in Bali and felt really frustrated having to constantly carry multiple toys with different uses for her two children. Each of them had three toys each - one for sleeping, one as a comforter and one for playing. They took up a lot of luggage space and were difficult to wash too.

So she decided to create her own perfect doll to check all those boxes: travel-friendly, washable and effective in helping her children sleep. What started out as a 'mad' venture (her words) turned out to be a successful journey into entrepreneurship and plenty of peaceful hours of sleep for mother and babies: Riff Raff & Co sleeping aids/comforters/soft toys.

word of mouth marketing
The various features of Riff Raff & Co dolls

All Riff Raff & Co dolls come with two types of audio - white noise and a lullaby to help the child sleep easier, is comfortable to hug and easy to wash.

While baby toys with audio lullabies aren't revolutionary, Riff Raff & Co's strengths have made it a top choice amongst parents.

An edge over their competition

One of their closest competitors is Lulla Doll, created by Icelandic startup RoRo Care that was launched 5 years before them. They were said to be extremely effective in lulling a child to sleep and every parent wanted one.

However, they launched with a very limited quantity of 5,000 which couldn't satisfy sleep-deprived parents worldwide. A bidding war ensued, which saw prices reach a whopping $350 on eBay, more than five times their retail price of US$71.

Riff Raff & Co's retail price of AUD $65 (about US$46)  is considerably more affordable that Lulla Doll, which is a big deal for parents who often find themselves having to spend on a million other purchases for baby care.

Riff Raff & Co also has more designs available, allowing for more returning purchase options and are great gift ideas.

Tip: Customer Insight from Personal Experience" title_color="#ffffff" radius="2"]Emma's personal experience as a mother helped her learn what her customers' pain points and needs were, down to the practical considerations of washing the toys. Using customer profiles to understand your target customer's demographics and psychographics is crucial to making your product messaging relatable.

A similar conversation, about the experience of wearing an amazing dress and feeling confident, led to the founding of runaway success Rent the Runway.

2. Riff Raff & Co celebrates proud parents worldwide by sharing photos of their babies with their dolls on social media.

The community of parents, mothers, in particular, is an extremely close-knit one. There are many opportunities for mothers to interact with each other. Activities like prenatal yoga, meditation sessions, postnatal fitness classes and common shopping spots like supermarkets and the maternity department.

The process of motherhood can be scary, so mothers bond really easily through a commonality of suffering and empathy. They are also very much more likely to take advice from another mother on what has worked for them.

There are also many social media groups for mothers where they share tips on parenthood. They also recommend products or services that was effective for them. In a community such as this, social proof is extremely influential and word-of-mouth recommendations are the most effective.

On Facebook and Instagram, Riff Raff & Co repost photos of babies sleeping peacefully with Riff Raff & Co dolls beside them. They celebrate Riff Raff & Co customers who are so much happier now that their child is sleeping better and show potential customers that their product can do the same for their own children. A quick Google for Riff Raff & Co reviews show many happy parents from all over the world posting happy pictures and positive endorsements - you couldn't pay for testimonials like that!

Tip: Micro-influencers and social sharing" title_color="#ffffff" radius="2"]Part of understanding your customer psychographics involves knowing how they consume information. This will help you learn which marketing medium is most effective for them. If your customer base is like Riff Raff & Co, then word-of-mouth is a major marketing avenue you need to leverage, especially with a tight-knit community. An additional reason to share was built-in into their marketing strategy because of their referral program.

3. Riff Raff & Co’s referral program encourages mums to recommend a product that works to other mums around them.

Emma understood how closely-knit the motherhood community was and that referral marketing was important for growing her brand.

With much of our target market being mums, and me being a mum myself, I knew that the best people to promote our product were other mums - they are the ones they really trust." - Emma Kruger | founder of Riff Raff & Co

Riff Raff & Co's referral program rewards customers who share the brand with their friends with one free toy for every five referrals. This gives mums an incentive to share more with fellow mums.

Riff Raff & Co Referral Program

And it has worked, according to an article by Kidspot that interviewed some mothers in Facebook groups:

"A lot of mums in my mum's group are raving about the Riff Raff baby sleeping toy at the moment"

"It's just one post after the other right now and they swear by how well it works for their bubs." - A Facebook group administrator

We know that customers trust peer recommendations the most, which makes referral marketing more effective for this demographic than the company's own marketing efforts. After all, we would rather trust what our peers say over a company advertisement which has their own interests in mind.

Another interesting note that Riff Raff & Co has done with their referral program is that they only reward customers after making five successful referrals. Thus, customers will keep on referring and spreading the word through their networks for a longer time. This is definitely achievable for most mums and works great in Riff Raff & Co's favor. This is a great example of a customised referral incentive, that offers parents a unique experience.

Tip: Referrals as a way to convert social sharing to sales" title_color="#ffffff" radius="2"]Social media is a great platform for word-of-mouth referrals and a referral program will aid in converting that to increased referral rates and sales.
A referral offer incentivises social sharing, which feeds back into more referral sales. Experiment with various referral reward settings to find what is most effective for your target demographic.


4. Riff Raff & Co achieves up to 35% of sales through referrals by asking customers to refer at the perfect moment.

Timing referral emails can be both an art and a science. It depends largely on what you are offering and who your target customers are.

For Riff Raff & Co, they understand the psychology of their customers and have been able to coincide with the sending of their emails with the highs of the customer journey, to maximize their value they get from email marketing.

Rather than emailing customers to refer after they have received a product, Riff Raff & Co sends emails right after they have purchased, when the brand connection is the strongest. Since the brand is top-of-mind at this moment, they are more likely to tell their friends about what they just ordered.

Riff Raff & Co referral email
Riff Raff & Co's referral email

Emails are sent when the product is shipped (anticipation is high) and also a few weeks after receiving the product. That's when customers are happy and convinced that the product is working for their children. They are encouraged to refer so they can earn another Riff Raff & Co doll for free as a backup or as gifts. Something parents will happily do.

Email customers when they are happiest or have the most anticipation. This maximizes the chances that customers will refer to their peers and minimize the likelihood of them forgetting.

Tip: Remind customers to refer" title_color="#ffffff" radius="2"]A study found that customers are happy and willing to refer their friends, but often forget due to information overload and busy lifestyles. Time your emails to coincide with the highs of the customer journey. This way, you ensure your brand is top-of-mind when they are most agreeable to share.

Check out our article for tips on how to keep your brand and referral program top-of-mind.

What can we learn from Riff Raff & Co's success?

  1. Understanding your target customers’ pain points and behavior - From their product design to their focus on word-of-mouth marketing, Riff Raff & Co comes from the same place as their customers and understands their pains and frustrations
  2. Utilize social media to boost word-of-mouth sharing - Social media is the best place to leverage the social proof theory. By showcasing happy and satisfied customers, you give them social currency, and also tell potential customers that they can be happy too if they buy your product.
  3. Use a referral program to increase our natural tendency to share - Every one of us shares good and bad experiences with our friends. With a referral program, we are more incentivized to share and purchase to help our friends.

Thinking about using a referral program for your company? Check out our Riff Raff & Co Case study!

riff raff n co case study referralcandy - referral program success through word of mouth
Samuel Hum
Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion eCommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior, social psychology, and handstands. He is also the lead calisthenics trainer at Weightless.

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