Brand Strategy

Inside the social strategy that squeezy bottle olive-oil brand Graza used to make its DTC debut

An untraditional approach to influencer marketing helped it sell out.
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· 5 min read

How much easier would life be if olive oil came in a squeezy bottle?

That’s not only DTC olive-oil brand Graza’s pitch to customers, but also the line used by the brand’s social media consultant, Kendall Dickieson, while trying to court potential influencers.

“I was sliding into people’s DMs with—call it a pickup line—like, one-liners,” Dickieson told Marketing Brew. That one-liner was part of a robust influencer marketing strategy that helped Graza, a squeezable olive-oil brand, sell out following its launch on January 11.

Graza’s co-founders, Andrew Benin and Allen Dushi, tapped Dickieson (who is also an influencer in the food space herself), as well as marketing consultant Grace Clarke, to help execute the brand’s strategy for debut.

Their strategy involved treating retail stores as influencers in their own right, and taking a slower, tiered approach to influencer gifting, starting with smaller creators before building up to macro-level ones.

Retail stores as influencers

Graza worked with influencers on all the usual social channels: Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. But it also collabed with retail stores to get the word out.

“We got to take a really wide view of what influencer and creator meant,” Clarke told us. The team reached out to 80 retailers around the US, offering them samples for customers as well as a few free bottles for employees. About half initially responded, and more came on board after Graza officially debuted. Her team told retailers they weren’t obligated to post about Graza, or do anything at all, in exchange.

Graza sent packages to a variety of small retailers, focusing on stores where other olive oil brands probably wouldn’t be sold—like pet stores and kids’ toy stores—under the assumption that their clientele are likely family people. These shops included Two Kids and a Dog in Dumbo, Brooklyn, Miracle Mile Toys and Gifts and Healthy Spot in LA, and Mishka Dog Boutique in San Francisco.

“Whether family for them means humans or animals, they are taking care of another creature. And we thought that might mean that they want to spend time building a home and nesting,” she said. For example, she figured parents who cook with children nearby might be interested in Graza’s plastic bottles over traditional glass ones.


Dickieson said she wanted to have people interacting with Graza’s social media accounts before the brand’s website was even live, so she started posting content about two months ahead of launch.

That meant Graza needed influencer content far earlier than the launch day itself. So Dickieson made sure micro-influencers (which she defines as those who have between 25k–150k followers) and nano-influencers (under 10k followers) received free olive oil in the mail weeks before launch. Macro-influencers, or those she defined as people with 200k+ followers, received products closer to launch.

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“With the smaller creators, it’s way easier to get user-generated content,” she said. “I don't want to say it's always guaranteed that they're gonna post it, but I just had a gut feeling that like, I know, the product’s freaking great.” Smaller influencers, she said, often ended up using the olive oil in the next recipe they posted or posted directly upon receiving their box.

With bigger influencers, that’s less common: Dickieson told us they have more backed-up content calendars filled with brand deals and other posts. She timed it so the packages would get to the larger players’ doors right before launch day, since she said their posts tend to drive more conversions. If they posted pre-launch, there would be nothing for their followers to buy.

In total, more than 100 packages went out to influencers before the website went live. The smaller influencer efforts helped sell out the launch, per Dickieson. Macro-influencer posts on launch day, however, contributed to pre-orders for the next shipment.

Like the retailers it reached out to, influencers were not explicitly asked to post or share anything about Graza, Dickieson said.

“I didn't ask for anything. I just gave them the product,” she told us.

How to train your dragon choose your influencers

Similarly to its retail strategy, the Graza team wanted to work with influencers that other olive oil brands might not think to reach out to.

For instance, Dickieson said she focused on reaching out to barbecue and pizza enthusiasts in hopes of broadening the perception of what olive oil can be used for.

Of course, she also reached out to high-level chefs and the Emily Marikos of the world.

“We went after people that if you saw this on their account, people would want to ask about it,” Dickieson told us.

And those people did more than just ask. Within seven days of its debut, Graza boasted a 7.91% conversion rate on its site from its Instagram bio, an 181% increase in follower growth across its social accounts, and a 429% increase in total post interactions, according to data shared with Marketing Brew.

Dickieson attributes those stats, in part, to the freedom Graza’s founders gave her as a social media manager. “You really need the trust…to be able to test freely and frequently, and have the people behind the team really support you on that,” she said.

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