Revealed: How Death Wish Coffee Made $6M in A Single Year

12 September، 2019

Clearly Death Wish Coffee is doing something right. They made $6M in a single year.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: one of the best ways to boost your chances of success is to take notes from companies that are already successful. So, we decided to study all the tactics and strategies Death Wish Coffee used to make their millions.

Before we get into the lessons that you can take away from this article, let’s have a brief look at the company that we’ll be learning from.


Death Wish Coffee

Death Wish Coffee started out as nothing more than a mundane coffee shop in New York — Saratoga Springs to be precise.

That all changed when Mike Brown, the founder, came up with the world’s strongest coffee. By sourcing beans from Peru and India then roasting them using a top-secret strategy, Mike was able to craft an amazingly potent cup of Joe.

The company hasn’t looked back since and made an amazing $6 million in online sales in 2015 alone.

There’s a lot that can be learned from this thriving eCommerce company, and today we’re going to give you five lessons from Death Wish Coffee’s marketing strategy.

Side note:

Are you interested in increasing your eCommerce sales?

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We’re offering free eCommerce marketing audits (worth $1,200 each) to the first ten people to sign up through this link.

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The 5 Lessons That Death Wish Coffee Can Teach You

Death Wish Coffee’s marketing strategy is as complex as it is effective, but here are five lessons that you should focus on.

Lesson #1] Use Cross-selling to Increase Your Annual Profit and Brand Loyalty]


Selling coffee on its own isn’t enough to build a successful niche business. Most brick-and-mortar coffee shops sell pastries, but this isn’t exactly viable for online retailers.

What’s the alternative? Merchandise.

When people log onto the Death Wish Coffee website, they aren’t looking for coffee – they’re looking for an experience.

If all they wanted was some caffeine then they would’ve gone to a local coffee shop, but they’ve gone to Death Wish specifically because the branding intrigues them. The company capitalizes on this existing interest by offering merch to go with their coffee.

Death Wish Coffee does this extremely effectively through their expansive catalog and bundled offerings. Their Odinforce blend, for example, only costs $16 for a 12oz pack, but their collector’s set for the blend costs $70.

By bundling desirable merchandise with the coffee itself, they’ve managed to increase the purchase size by $54. The bigger each individual purchase is, the more money they earn on a grand scale.

If Death Wish didn’t sell any merchandise then I highly doubt that they would’ve gotten anywhere close to $6 million in online sales.

The benefits of cross-selling don’t end with increased revenue, though, as the mugs that their customers buy serve as a constant reminder to purchase more of their coffee.

It’s the same reason that people drink Starbucks blends from their Starbucks mugs: consistency. The human brain loathes inconsistency and thus, by branding the mugs that their customers use, they’re more likely to get repeat sales on their coffee blends.

Lastly, merchandise serves as free advertising. When existing customers wear a Death Wish Coffee T-shirt or carry around a branded mug, they’re increasing exposure and could draw in new customers as a result — essentially serving as a walking billboard.

Golden nugget: cross-selling will not only increase individual purchase sizes and thus boost revenue but also give your brand more exposure, draw in new customers, and encourage recurring purchases.

Lesson #2] An Optimized User Experience Reduces Abandoned Carts]

User experience is essential to any online business, but those in eCommerce should be even more concerned with it as it can make or break their bottom line.

It’s clear that Death Wish Coffee grasps this concept as they have taken measures to ensure that their customers’ experience is totally stress-free. When you log onto the website, you’re greeted by a clean design with information on the world’s strongest coffee.

The header (pictured above) includes dropdown menus and breaks everything up into categories so that it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. Once you get to the blend of your choice, you can then select a size and grind that matches your preferences. There’s also the option of a repeat-order subscription with a 20% discount.

The “buy now” and “add to cart” buttons are very visible and colored in bright red to ensure that you can’t miss them.

After all, multiple psychological studies show that humans are more likely to notice elements colored in red — which is why stop signs are red.

As soon as you click “add to cart,” a checkout option appears to seal the deal.

A common cause of abandoned carts is the lack of payment options. Death Wish proactively solves this issue by offering three methods at the top of their checkout page: Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and PayPal.

The inclusion of PayPal is a key point here as that company holds a 60% market share in the payment processing industry and has been the gold standard in eCommerce for the past two decades.

By offering a diverse selection of payment options, Death Wish Coffee is able to minimize the total number of abandoned carts and thus increase annual revenue.

You might think that integrating multiple payment processors on your eCommerce site is a waste of time since most people pay with a physical card. However, not everyone carries a card with them 24/7.

If you don’t provide online payment options like PayPal and a potential buyer doesn’t have their card then they may put the purchase off for later… then inevitably forget all about it and become another abandoned cart.

Death Wish Coffee also reduces the number of obstacles that new buyers have to overcome by foregoing a signup process and letting anyone buy their coffee without creating an account. This ensures that even buyers who are in a rush will complete their purchase rather than abandoning their cart.

The last UX lesson that you can learn from Death Wish is that you should ALWAYS have SSL on your eCommerce website. With threats like phishing and fraud ever-present in the online world, some people may be hesitant to give out their credit card information to an insecure website. You must avoid looking suspicious or your sales could suffer as a result.

Having SSL reassures the customer that your website is trustworthy — and most web hosts offer free SSL certificates anyway, so there’s no reason not to get one.

Golden nugget: intuitive web design, diverse payment options, and SSL can improve the user experience, reduce abandoned carts, and lead to more sales.

Lesson #3] Sponsorships Draw Attention and Increases Brand Awareness]

Sponsorship deals are a key part of any marketing strategy. Death Wish Coffee has mastered the art over the past few years and has seen significant gains as a result.

The Special Olympics is one organization that has worked with Death Wish. Helping nonprofits like these can work wonders for PR – after all, people are more inclined to buy from a company that supports a good cause.

The shoe brand TOMS saw rapid growth through its buy-one-give-one-away model that justified the higher price of their products by giving people the dopamine-filled sensation of supporting a cause.

The ethical debates on whether or not the model is actually altruistic are ongoing, but you can’t argue with the pragmatic results as the company was valued at $625 million in 2014, after founder Blake Mycoskie sold 50% of the company.

Death Wish Coffee saw similar results after partnering with the Special Olympics as the positive media attention led to more sales. Supporters of the charity became customers of the brand and vice versa, creating a win-win scenario.

Beyond the financial upsides to partnering with a charity, it’s also a fulfilling experience to know that your eCommerce business is changing the world for the better.

Death Wish Coffee’s collaborations reach far beyond nonprofits, though. After sponsoring NASCAR drivers Daniel Hemric and Ty Dillon, the company got waves of new customers from the racing scene. This should come as no surprise seeing as the Daytona 500 gets over nine million viewers.

The company was also the official coffee sponsor of the New York Comic Con which got over 250,000 attendees in 2018.

Getting your brand in front of consumers is essential to any business — which is why Sony spends millions of dollars each year on product placement so that they remain relevant in the mind of their customers.

Whether it’s a charity, sports personality, or event, forging sponsorship deals can increase the exposure of your eCommerce business and help to increase revenue.

Golden nugget: partnerships with large events, popular sportspeople, and well-known charities can promote your brand, thus helping you acquire new customers — leading to a boost in revenue.

Lesson #4] Viral Marketing Brings Media Coverage]

Viral marketing is a powerful tool when used correctly. Few brands have managed to execute it effectively, but those who have see great returns on their investment.

Who could forget the viral marketing campaign used by those behind the Carrie remake or the alien-themed strategy that Samsung used to thrust Galaxy to the top of the smartphone industry?

Death Wish Coffee is following in their footsteps with their own viral marketing efforts. In mid-2018, Death Wish sent a freeze-dried blend to the International Space Station – and became “the strongest coffee in the galaxy.”

This bold marketing move brought media attention to the brand and even got them featured in Tech Times. It may seem silly to dedicate so much time and so many resources to a project like this, but creativity lies at the core of any viral marketing strategy.

Human curiosity has always been a big factor in consumer interest, and since the emergence of social media, marketing based on eye-catching, novel acts has become increasingly viable.

When people see something new and interesting they share it with their friends, who share it with friends of their own, and the cycle continues until you find your brand trending on Twitter or featured in a major publication.

Golden nugget: get bold and creative through viral marketing to build hype for your brand or even get featured in online publications.

Lesson #5] Having a Strong Social Media Presence Will Influence Buyers]

Death Wish Coffee’s social media presence is impressive, to say the least. Their official Facebook page has over half a million likes, with nearly all of those being followers, too – meaning that every post is far-reaching.

While some see likes on social media as nothing more than a vanity metric, you can’t deny the benefits of being recognized on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Studies show that 74% of consumers look at a brand’s social media presence before making a purchase. If a business has an inactive presence — or even none at all — then that could reduce consumer faith in the brand and lower the number of sales that come in.

The key to Death Wish Coffee’s social success is the fact that they’re publishing interesting content rather than trying to make a sale with every post. Their Facebook page is very active, with multiple posts each day in the form of quotes, memes, articles, product announcements, and other easily shareable content.

Consistency is another lesson that you should learn from Death Wish. Posting social media content on a regular schedule will help your pages grow faster and bring more attention to your brand. You should also add social media buttons to your website footer to ensure that customers can easily find your official pages.

Golden nugget: consistently publishing interesting content on social media channels will grow your following and improve consumer trust in your brand.

5 Key Takeaways That Earned Death Wish Coffee $6M in a Single Year

When it comes to eCommerce marketing and skyrocketing growth, Death Wish Coffee know what they’re doing.

Now that we’ve shown you the main strategies behind their gargantuan growth, it’s your turn. Pick a strategy and test it. Rinse and repeat.

Here are the 5 key takeaways from DWC’s $6M in a single year:

1- Capitalize on the brand experience by offering merch to go with your main product, and sell bundles to increase the size of each purchase.

2- Easy navigation and a wide selection of payment methods will make it simpler for customers to buy from you — leading to more sales.

3- Supporting charities and sponsoring events or personalities will draw more attention to your brand and increase annual revenue.

4- Get creative with your viral marketing campaigns to attract media coverage and consumer interest.

5- Social media presence is a major factor in buyer decisions, so optimize your pages accordingly.

Before you go: 

Are you interested in increasing your eCommerce sales?

Sawim is a platform that connects you with Saudi-based suppliers who can keep you stocked with high-demand products without the hassle of shipping from China.

We’re offering free eCommerce marketing audits (worth $1,200 each) to the first ten people to sign up through this link.

Sign up now!

Sawim is working to provide integrated marketing solutions

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