On today's Authentic Avenue podcast, Adam has a sweet treat: Andy Judd, the CMO of Yasso. The brand, known for its better-for-you ice cream (yes you read that correctly), is on a path to take over novelty dessert. Today, we talk all about it.
Find your favorite form and flavor of Yasso here: https://yasso.com/shop/.
Enjoy! Full transcript below.
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Adam Conner: [00:00:00] Hey, Andy, how you doing?
Andy Judd: [00:00:01] Doing great. Thanks for having me.
Adam Conner: [00:00:04] I appreciate you coming on. Uh, because Jaso is, have just learned is how you pronounce it is something that I've been consuming for like three or four years. And then when the opportunity came to me to feature the business on the show, I was like, wow, what a great collision of worlds.
So, so thanks for agreeing to do it from a, from a fan of your product.
Andy Judd: [00:00:27] No, I'll always love talking about the brand and the product. Um, you know, w w we make amazing frozen desserts and snacks. Like it's, it's hard not to find people that get excited to talk about ice cream.
Adam Conner: [00:00:42] Well, that's fair. Um, it's, it's not a very, uh, it's not a very disliked thing.
I will say that. And for me, it was especially not the way I got in. I got to start with how I got into this and listeners, if you are a consumer of. This product or this category, you might have a similar experience to me, but where I started was I was getting more into fitness, which ice cream typically doesn't brush against very well, but I was getting into a more, a routine fitness regimen and I still wanted to splurge a little bit.
And before I got into Jaso, I was eating a little bit of a, what was it? Halo top. That was like the first one that was like the I as a consumer, like became like aware of, okay. Oh, interesting. Protein ice cream. That's kind of weird. And then I tried it. I was like, oh, okay. It's not bad anyway. Uh, but my now fiance didn't love it.
Okay. Well, we've got to go back to the drawing board. What are we going to do? But what we did love because we used to get them a lot were, um, it was just another bar I'm forgetting one of like the mass brands. Okay. Of like ice cream bar. She loved that as a guilty pleasure. So then when we found something that was the best of both worlds.
It was the OSU bar. And we started out with, I want to make sure I get this right. Pretty sure. We started out with chocolate chip cookie dough. So we started there because that was pretty good. We both loved that. Her favorite flavor, ice cream is a that's. That's like a Turkey hill called, um, uh, double Dunkers, like I coffee, ice cream with chocolate and cookie dough in it.
So that was the best one. At first. Then we went to mint chocolate chip and we tend to go back and forth between those little bit of cookies and cream, same here and there. Um, Seesaw caramel. We did once. So I love these and it was all because of fitness that I started eating your ice cream. Is that weird?
Andy Judd: [00:02:30] No, that's not weird. It's actually a fairly typical journey. Wouldn't when we think about like our, our core consumer and who we're talking to, I mean, you, you out is just like, I don't know that I could have said it better myself, which is, you know, we call them the devoted, which is they're devoted to the category.
They love ice cream, but they've started this health and wellness journey. And want to find something that gives them that just incredible, delicious, amazing experience, but fits more programmatically into their health and wellness journey. So it is not an a, I shouldn't say that it's, it's not atypical.
Unfortunately, I would never tell that to anyone, but, uh, uh, but yeah, it's a, it's very consistent, uh, and people then try it and it sounds like you guys also did the fun journey of. Wow, this is amazing. I mean, what else? What else, what else is in here? And what else? What other flavors can we try? And then it just explodes, uh, from, from there.
So we've, we've got some great products for sure.
Adam Conner: [00:03:32] Yeah. Yeah. I think it was just because it was at the first iteration, um, our, our, our grocery stores, Harris Teeter. So it's like in the Kroger family and they were carrying like two skews. And so it was like chocolate chip or mint. And we're like, okay, we tried both of those.
And then you started to expand out and now listeners, all you have to do is go to jaso.com and get Y a S S o.com. You can see all the different flavors now, and it's not just bars. It's so much more than that. What's, what's your, what's your favorite go-to flavor regardless of the packaging that it comes into you look, uh, I like a smooth ice cream.
Or are you a chunky ice cream? What do you, what do you, what do you prefer? So
Andy Judd: [00:04:04] a super sweet palette. So I love, um, really creamy, but really like sugary sweets. So I love our sea salt, caramel. Uh, it is, you know, just like the perfect balance of sweetness, um, and, and a little bit of salt flavor in it. So that's, that is my go-to.
A bar. We got some new ones coming out, though that I think are fantastic. Our R and D team, I don't know. They've got like 10 flavors that I'm like, I can't launch all of these, but I really want to, so you're going to have to keep making these in the lab so that I can personally continue to
Adam Conner: [00:04:41] use these. Oh, and they bring them to you.
They bring them straight to you. Yes,
Andy Judd: [00:04:44] yes. Yes. That's the small benefit, uh, of, of being here.
Adam Conner: [00:04:49] Yeah, sure. Um, and Hey, you know, you gotta, that's, it's better than like it's better than most other categories I would say to be, to be the tester for, um, now, but this wasn't your first foray into, uh, into a, into a great like food item or new category in the health and fitness world.
And you had come from, uh, I think you come from protein bars. And then before that you had come from like larger CPGs. And we talked a little bit earlier about how you are, uh, you, you embrace the chaos. You're all about the build you've been at JASA now for, uh, the better part of two years between a year and a half and two years.
What's been your favorite part of the build. Uh, in this chapter of your life so far.
Andy Judd: [00:05:32] Yeah, I think for this one, this has been a really fun kind of full of journey. I think a lot of health and wellness products by, by nature focus a lot on the, on the free froms. So I've had the pleasure of working on what I think are some of the leaders in gluten-free or in plant-based and non-dairy.
Um, in, in so many of those brands are focused on like the, the extraction and removal of the problem. The last couple of brands I've been on one brands, uh, the protein bar company, and then here are really focused on enjoyment. Um, and you know, Not not focusing on compromise, um, as much. And, and I think that's just a really powerful on lock that, that consumers, I think that's where they've gone to.
I, I talked about it in previous lives. When we talk about innovation around like kind of the there's the initial foray, which is like, Hey, this is as close to the proxy, exact proxy of the item. We call it the 1.0 journey. Then there's the 2.0 journey, which is like, okay, now we're going to make that taste good.
And then there's the 3.0 journey, which is, this is something totally different. And I really love the kind of 2.0 and 3.0. Um, of, of that kind of build, as you mentioned. And this one is just right up, up there with that 3.0, which is like, there's nothing else like this, this totally resets the definition of what an amazing tasting health and wellness, you know, frozen dessert and snacks should be,
Adam Conner: [00:07:03] you know what?
I got to ask this though, because, um, It is like what? I still have a hard time saying, okay. At the end of the day, like this is, it's like an, it's like an ice cream product. Right. How could you possibly credibly tie that to health and fitness and kills me? But I mean, like, it's just because it's better than others.
Like what. How do you think about it? Cause I mean, you got to have some skeptic consumers look at it funny and say like, really?
Andy Judd: [00:07:28] No. Yeah. That's so true. I mean, I mean, like that is the number one challenge that I think any, any better for you brand, um, has, which is the skepticism of taste believability.
That's just there. It's like, if all, if you're going to do something with less calories or better ingredients, like I can't taste good and now stack, uh, a dessert or an indulgent space on top of that. And that skepticism ratchets up quite a bit. And we find that in our research, Ted, our consumer. Despite that they're on this health and wellness journey, um, and has made known sacrifices.
Their expectation in this category is actually higher than the average consumer for taste. Um, and for inclusions and flavor levels, like they really, really, really have a really high standard. I know you mentioned one of our competitors earlier, like it doesn't cut it. Right. It's like we got to get up up above that, uh, for, for sure.
And so, yeah, I think this one is one where you have to be. So forthright and transparent about what it is, what it contains and how good it tastes. And to your direct question around, how do you get through that? The reality is like our nutritional DNA looks a lot like other categories, nutritional DNA. Um, but consumers don't always, you know, have that initial point of consideration to think of, of going to the frozen island into the ice cream aisle to get that nutritional bundle.
If you will, like your fitness workouts, like. Well, I can get five grams of protein at a hundred calories and it tastes great. Oh, I would definitely consider that a regular yogurt cup. Why not? Why wouldn't I think of that in a, in a frozen yogurt bar orientation. And so there's definitely a Reese kind of like a reset that we have to, you know, communicate to consumers, but one that once that unlock happens, they begin your journey or your fiance's journey, which is.
Now I'm like, I'm all in, and that's why we have some of the highest levels of repeat and loyalty and Bahrain and the space.
Adam Conner: [00:09:28] Yeah. I was just going to mention that. I mean, these statistics are stunning and as. At this point, still like a pure bar guy. We'll talk about how also is much more than that nowadays.
It was surprising to see how it almost crept up on me that like, wow, no, you're also is top five in, in novelty, dessert, just like across the board. There's some huge names there and it doesn't hurt that with that. As you said, comes the strongest repeat rate, you know, high loyalty. I mean, heck I haven't had another.
Competitor or any product even around it since the first time that I bought you also, that was a couple years ago. So plenty of chances to do it. And I haven't, um, it's that, and that challenge that I mentioned, I mentioned that just because like, yeah, I like to address the skeptics in the room. And I think everybody has that even I even had that, like before Yassa I was looking at all sorts of these better for you products that were essentially dessert.
And I was like, really, but, you know, everybody has their own way of, uh, sort of justify it in their own head. And once you like layer that in and it doesn't create that big, like nutritional hit at the end of the day, it's like, uh, it is a game changer. It's that third it's at 3.0, that, that you mentioned.
Um, it doesn't hurt that it also, it, at least in my opinion, again, just coming from a loyal consumer. So listeners, you have that small bias here. I think it's fantastic. I think it's delicious. And it's good. That, that is a, the name of your most. Recent campaign that you're rolling on. On fact, you're calling it a day.
delicious. And within that, I started doing some more digging and I figured out that you guys aren't just like for the bar guys anymore, you guys are doing all this other stuff. You're dipping them. You're doing these, these possibles. That seems very interesting. So what, why don't you tell me a little bit about, uh, this newest, uh, I, this, this newest campaign is due to go to market what that's all about and, uh, what makes, what makes the broad portfolio of products?
So audaciously delicious.
Andy Judd: [00:11:24] Yeah. So as I kind of alluded to earlier, you know, one of the cultural convictions we have, uh, around snacking and desserts is that they really should be a joyful experience. It should be satisfying and fun, uh, and obviously tastes amazing. And I think when you look at the landscape, For, for consumers, you know, it's bird seed, it's bird seed in different forms, but it's bird seed.
Um, and while that's great and it serves a purpose, it does leave a little bit of, of gaps and satiation and satisfaction. Uh, and so for, for us, you know, as an emerging brand, Well, yes, we we've got some great soft work coming up on the heels of some of those larger brands in our space. We really have to, to continue to shout and be bold, um, because we believe in the product.
I mean, like you've, I think you've, you've done a great job. I could just like, I don't have to say any any more. I think you've sold. Hopefully your, yeah, your whole, your whole community on, on how delicious, creamy and tasty these products are. But we really have to shout because we are coming up against some brands that are like, really, you're going to tell you're better than this bar or this, this thing I've been eating since childhood.
Um, and so for us to do that, you know, we've really got to be audacious, um, and be bold enough to say how we are the pound for pound a hundred Cal champ. Um, you're not gonna find a better experience with taste nutrition, um, and just, you know, outstanding satisfaction, both emotionally and physically. Um, and so for us, that's, that's where the audacity is.
Is that not all? We actually did it, you know, we, we made it to 3.0, as, as we've been talking, it
Adam Conner: [00:13:16] is something which is. It's not just coming. It is here and what, I've, what I've witnessed as this wellness wave. And it's not just in better fuel snacks. I mean, it is everywhere, every freaking thing out there, at least in my head.
Is, oh, we are now a wellness solution. We are now a product that helps you achieve better, whatever physical health, even mental health, which I think is kind of predatory in some ways. But, um, that is something which if you are long, standing here is easy to combat. Uh, but yeah. Is, is hard just by the sheer volume.
And then yes, of course. Yeah. How's this better? How's this better from like the, when I go to my local Carvel, I don't know if they have that, where you are, where they have that on the east coast. Like how, how does this beat. My, uh, my Sunday, those sorts of things, but, um, that's, that's part of the plan. Now, let me ask you something else.
Because as I had implied Jaso, as I experienced, it was a better for you ice cream bar, but now he got like cookie sandwiches and you got these chocolate dip bars and you got these poles. What's, what's your, what's your favorite? I mean like you've, as you mentioned, been the Guinea pig, the lucky Guinea pig that gets to try all these.
Both the flavors in the forms. What's your favorite form? Cause we already know what sea salt caramel, so like yeah. First pick of them. What do you go for?
Andy Judd: [00:14:31] So I still love my Seesaw caramel bar. That is definitely my first go to first. That's my first love if you will. Um, even before I worked here. So you know that that, that may be your, your chocolate chip cookie dough, but I will say that these probables, that, that we launched this year, which you could find at your Harris Teeter, by the way, Um, uh, is.
Are fantastic. They're 60 calories, a pop, um, they're coated and, you know, rich, you know, dark chocolate with, you know, puffed keenwah. Um, so it gives this just really nice crunch, sensory creamy, middle. Um, and then it's got, you know, are, you know, as you come, as you have come to expect this deliciousness inside, whether that's mint or, you know, coffee, or, you know, our, our Cecil Caremark.
Um, so to me that, that, you know, that chocolate covered poppable Cecil caramel flavor, um, is just outstanding. The, the challenge I have is like, You know, not eating the whole carton, uh, cause they're so poppable, uh, and you're just like, yeah, I could crush a couple of these, like, you know, give me some energy and let me, let me keep rolling.
So, um, those products are really good and those are ones that are really starting to see this snacking change. And this change in the frame of reference, you know, totally different than, you know, a sandwich may. Um, for example,
Adam Conner: [00:15:53] Right. And I must admit that I haven't tried the poppable, but even in the bar world, I've had those nights where I'll like rip through one and be like, God, there was so good.
And then I'll look back at the box and I'm like, shoot at this point a week and a half the box, but you know what? And then I do it.
Andy Judd: [00:16:08] And, and you know what, there, there is a program, um, for you, um, that, uh, we actually provide you Mueller, uh, uh, products. Uh it's it's actually, you know, we, we actually service, uh, your, your affliction, if you will.
Uh, but, uh, but you're, you're in good company, my friend.
Adam Conner: [00:16:27] Yeah. Right. Good. That's great. That's funny. Um, okay. So let let's, let's transition real quick. From, from the, a word that titles, this campaign of yours audacious to the, a word in which I focus, which is authenticity. I love asking folks that come in, especially those who are dedicated to the build and embrace the chaos about the various avenues that their business takes to manifest and accomplish the authenticity, which they posture, at least at the beginning of every podcast that I do.
You've been at JASA now for again, the better part of two years, what have been those moments where looking back, you say, you know what? This is when we were our most authentic selves.
Andy Judd: [00:17:05] I think one of those moments, I'll give you a brand moment and I'll give you a company moment. Uh, I'll do the company moment first.
Um, the, the company moved, uh, about two years ago from, from Boston, where we were founded to, to Boulder, Colorado. Um, and we had, uh, a tragic event very recently. Um, we had a, um, a mass shooting here in our community. Uh, and as you know, this is a pretty. Really a really connected community. I mean, the city of Boulder is really not that large.
Um, and there's a, a really a hotbed of emerging food and beverage brands here. You know, we're at the cutting edge of a lot of health and wellness. We, we all personally live that style lifestyle and this, this event happened not too far from our office and we immediately, you spring into action. I think, you know, we do have a 5 0 1 C3.
A nonprofit arm of, of our company, uh, and you know, giving back and making impact in our community. All this was a little different than our, our, our, our normalized mission. We, we sprang, we were immediately, you know, thinking about how do we service those affected through programs like the Colorado healing fund.
Uh, we were thinking about how do we help service and, you know, the workers as, as they come back to work. Um, and in that environment at a grocery store environment, And then we also rallied other brands to donate and we matched all of their stuff, uh, all their donations as well. So that was just a really proud moment of everybody coming together out of this terrible event.
Um, and driving a deep level of impact, uh, overall and kind of rounding the community together. I think that was, that was a proud personal moment, um, from a, a com a brand moment. I think one of the proudest moments. I've had to date, um, was deep in the, in the, in the midst of COVID when you know, everything was, was moving around and I'm sure you've had other, um, uh, folks on the, on the podcast.
Talk about like the pivot they've gone through. That's landing
Adam Conner: [00:19:17] everybody pretty much. But yeah,
Andy Judd: [00:19:19] like if you use the word pivot, you have to like take a shot. Like that's a thing. Yeah.
Adam Conner: [00:19:23] Right. Some people think some people say that about authenticity, but anyway, that I'd be, I'd be long dead. But anyway,
Andy Judd: [00:19:28] go on.
I think one of my proudest brand moments was in this brand was all about sampling, all about sampling, um, directly to consumer, as you would imagine, they should because it tastes insanely good. Um, and nothing's going to help people get over that. Better for you taste believability than actually having a moment that tastes and be like no way.
Um, and, and then, you know, then, then they're hooked. That went away. Um, and so to have an, uh, kind of team of show anchored around that and be able to span into a monitor, like how do we continue to get, um, uh, you know, bars to people to let them sample. And we built out an entire, you know, DTC infrastructure on frozen temperature, state bars really quickly so that our most low fans could try new flavors and that we could.
Sample to new people, um, through your different giveaways and things like that. That was a really proud brand moment that kind of elevated our, honestly it elevated a capability skill that allowed us to take that like most authentic moment. There's no, you all use your word. You're a word like there is no more authentic moment than that real moment of truth.
You know, I think that the old adage of. You're the first moment of truth being at the shelf. Like, yeah, that's true. But the real, the real moment of truth is when the consumer eats your product. Um, and so for us to totally expand around and figure it out and build a new digital sampling capability, um, uh, was just a, a really proud moment for me as well.
Adam Conner: [00:21:06] Because it allowed you to, at the moment when people needed it the most give them that, that, that delight, even if they, you know, Didn't feel comfortable or couldn't get out to the places where they normally had it. And most folks that I've talked to in food and Bev, I mean, I mean meal kits. I mean, I can't tell you any meal kits I talked to like through that time where, I mean, right in the thick of it, where of course their business was exploding because sure.
It was a really nice way. And of course they had promotions tied to it, so it wasn't that good. Uh, and who knows how that has kept up, but in situations like this, people were just as much looking for the staple. As they were for, uh, for, for the snack or the treat or the dessert. And so this. Of course being something, which is a comfort really.
I mean, it's dessert. Uh, must've been extra special and I mean, my God had you paired that with that other, uh, very tragic story and, you know, moments like that are just where people need comfort just as much. So I'm glad that you've been able to manifest it. And yeah,
Andy Judd: [00:22:04] we did a ton of sampling at those moments.
You know, where in the COVID reality, there were frontline workers and, you know, We actually did a ton of like ice cream, social events, where we were giving, not giving food directly because of certain coders, friction, but like, um, uh, nursing homes and senior living, like people that forgot, they give us, it was a lot about healthcare, which is, should have been in grocery and frontline.
Um, but senior living, I mean, that's, that's been a tough place to, to, to be as well. So for us, like there's this ubiquitous reality of. Joy that our product can give no matter what life stage you're in, what health, where you are in your health and wellness journey. And for us to go find those moments, bring people joy is, is a really powerful gift, particularly in the chaos of our company's journey and in the chaos of the broader macro environment that we've all been living in in the last couple of years.
So, you know, it's, it's been, um, I, I would say pride. Um, uh, but it, it has been a prideful thing that our company can realize it, it may just be an ice cream bar, but it can have a lot of impact just like brighten a day. How do we do more of that?
Adam Conner: [00:23:11] Right. That journey has been different for everybody. And it is a part of that journey that I'd like to round out with today.
And specifically question about advice as people navigate that journey. This journey specifically is one towards manifesting one's own. Authenticity either for themselves or for their business. And the reason I ask this is because you have explained to me here, moments at which you found your north star ways in which you have built a business, not just Jaso, but businesses before it.
And. I must admit that not everybody who listens to this podcast has been able to do that at all. Or even if they have as successfully as you, it's not all salted caramel, it's some Rocky road, people going through different flavors of their lives at different times, emulate journeys, like yours to find out where to go next.
And so, as we round out today, I'd love to ask you for some advice, which seems like a big question, but hopefully you can distill it into a bar sized story for me, which is. How would you advise that listeners of this show build their own avenues to authenticity?
Andy Judd: [00:24:19] Well, first off, I see what you did there.
And as, as it, as a, as a brand who enjoys a good pun, um, I, you know, I have to recognize the creative, uh, authenticity that, that you just dropped that. So, um, but yeah, so look, I, I think that the advice I would say first and foremost is everybody's on a Rocky road at some point. No, no business, no person, you know, it really has the smooth run if they do.
I've met a lot of people. I've never met one that has ever had just the perfectly smooth, smooth run if they did good on them, but that's not, it definitely the samples, the sample eyes I've heard in my life. And so I think knowing no one is ever alone, um, even in the, in the, the lowest of those valleys, Um, because others, others have traveled that journey.
And I think perseverance, um, through that, um, is, is so critical where I find, you know, my deepest level of north star personally, is, did I serve, did I serve today and help those around me? Whether that's my brand, whether that's my family, whether that's my team. Did I serve to make it make their world better?
Um, did I serve, um, to enable them to grow, um, and go forward. And I think when, when you have a core, can I ask myself this question every day? I think it really helps. And that's, that's, you know, certain services that leadership that I aspire to. Um, but I, I asked myself that every day, how am I making everything around me better?
Um, and you know, that's not to say, like I'm a perfectionist. Um, I'm actually really pliable and flexible to the circumstances of the world around us because perfection is by its definition, impossible. Um, but I think it's a, can I serve people and help them grow? And I, I think. Even when I look at our brand, that's a big part of our DNA.
Can we make whether it's our game on foundation and we want to help make sports more enjoyable to youth or making that environment better? Um, or, you know, as a brand, can we make our product better? We just, this year alone, we upgraded our number one and number two skews. Like we already have great products, like put more mint in there, right?
Like, like make it better. So I think that's a powerful. Place to center yourself as, how am I serving and how am I bringing joy and light to an otherwise chaotic world. That's really the heart of this brand
Adam Conner: [00:27:04] listeners. I would advise you in your day to day, everybody can ask that question to themselves.
How did I serve it? Doesn't have to be strictly related to a business. It can be in your personal life and your community. How did you serve? And can you find, uh, can you find some sort of fulfillment through that? And if it's intended with a business. Great, but any authentic journey needed to be related to that.
It's more the impact that you have on others regardless. Of the business that you do it with. So for this story, tell me a little bit more about Jaso and it was great, a great little nugget there at the end, by the way, basically telling me that you're always striving to go from that 3.0, to maybe the 3.1 or the 3.2.
Glad you put in more mint in there, by the way. I really appreciate the brand story. How you've tied it to your personal life, how you are fulfilling yourself through it. And, uh, thanks for filling me with a delicious dessert every single night and listeners. If you want to get some of this yourself, obviously you can go to the store and find it if it's near you, but also jaso.com/shop that's Y a S S o.com/shop.
Go see everything they have to offer. Get a taste of the audaciously, delicious yourself, Andy Judd for now. Thanks so much for joining me and for telling your story.
Andy Judd: [00:28:19] Awesome. Thank you so much for having me.