Tech Transformation Podcast: Jones Soda CMO Bohb Blair On Entering Cannabis and Having the Most Engaged Consumers On the Planet

Craft soda company Jones Soda might have some of the most loyal and engaged fans in the world. The company was tapping into user-generated content before digital photography even existed, and now they’re leaning into mobile apps and other technologies to engage consumers and leverage their insights across its business. 

In this episode of Tech Transformation, we're talking with Bob Blair, Jones Soda CMO, about some of the technologies they're using and what they have planned. We're also talking about their recent entry into the cannabis market and what kind of thinking and preparation needs to happen before moving into this category. 

Listen to learn: 

  • What it’s like operating as Jones’ first CMO
  • How Jones uses user-generated content to drive incredibly loyalty
  • How today’s consumers prefer to connect digitally
  • How Jones is using mobile apps to drive value
  • How it’s leveraging consumer insights across its business
  • Why it’s moving into the cannabis market and its learnings
  • Some of the weirdest soda flavors consumers have ever suggested 


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On their winning user-generated content model: “What's interesting is if you upload a picture to Jones right now, you're presented with an online form, and you have to fill it out. It doesn't take a long time, but it isn't just one button on your phone. And so when I was first digging into the archive of pictures that people sent into Jones … and I [looked at] the ones we haven't gone through yet to see if we're going to [put them] on a label: 552,000 photos. I came from working on [big] brands …  we never got half a million submissions to anything. 

“The engagement of the Jones fan wanting to get their photo on the label is insane. And we love it. And it just shows that even in today's age where people are used to pushing one button, they'll fill out a form, sign a model release, sign a photographer release, and send it all to us blindly in the hopes that we'll pick it. And it's just such a good moment, and I gotta tell you, the moment you get to pick one and write the letter that everybody signs that you got picked, and it goes to the person — which we still do for every single person — they love it. They are so awesomely over the moon when they get that letter.”

On how they’re using consumer insights from their DTC efforts across the business: “There's a couple of really interesting ways. One is that we really see how people react when we test out different flavors or limited-edition things or news. A lot more is available in our online shopping areas through DTC than is available to store at any given time. Even though at a store you'll usually find our four core flavors, plus a new release, plus often some other limited-edition thing, there's even more stuff on our site. 

“And so a lot of times we're seeing what people are most excited about, even testing the water on Instagram, seeing what people react to, bringing something out of the archive and putting it for sale and DTC, see how they react, using those insights to tell a retailer like a Kroger, ‘Hey, look how excited these people are online. You should put it in store.’ So the scale of distribution can also follow the scale of an audience that you're reacting to, in that they're telling you what they're most excited about. And so it's fun at each of those stages, and each one can inform the other in certain ways."


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