Digital Marketing Redux   //   January 25, 2024

‘We’ll invest more and more in social media’: SharkNinja CEO Mark Barrocas on going from infomercials to TikTok

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SharkNinja — the company behind the Shark and Ninja household product brands — sees TikTok as the late-night infomercial.

The company has been around since the ’90s, but has spent the last two decades specifically growing out its product catalog and finding new channels for marketing. Leading this charge is CEO Mark Barrocas, who joined the company in 2008 as president.

Back then, SharkNinja — then called Euro-Pro — had fewer products and was mostly known as the brand behind items sold via long-form late-night infomercials. Then, it was mostly known for its Shark vacuums.

“In 2009, we created the Ninja brand — and really, from there, we started to kind of reframe the business around identifying either known or unknown consumer problems, and then building a technology and innovation company that was able to solve those problems,” Barrocas said on the Modern Retail Podcast. Now, SharkNinja is in 31 different product categories, sold in 26 markets around the world.

According to Barrocas, the key to SharkNinja’s growth has been its focus on constantly innovating home products. “We take a very maniacal approach to product development,” he said.

Additionally, the company has been able to keep up with the times, marketing-wise. While SharkNinja still does produce late-night commercials — those likely will never go away as long as linear TV continues to exist — the brand has found a new channel with TikTok. “We built our social media team up tremendously over the last few years. We have products like the Ninja Creamy that have a billion impressions on TikTok,” he said.

This focus on new channels to find new eyeballs likely won’t stop soon. “I continue to think that we’ll invest more and more in social media, we’ll invest more in partnerships, we’ll invest more in events,” Barrocas said.

Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.

SharkNinja’s product development strategy
“We take a very maniacal approach to product development — to every little detail that goes into the product of what we’re doing. And so I would say first, in 2010, we wrote the mission statement of the company, which was: positively impacting people’s lives every day in every home around the world. And I think that undying focus on delivering a five-star product to the consumer is what today continues to keep driving everything we do in the company.”

TikTok is the new late-night infomercial
“Back in 2008, we were running all of our advertising as long-form television, infomercials — 30-minute infomercials. And people would see Shark or Ninja products on late at night or on Saturday or Sunday morning. That was done because every brand needs to find a unique way for them to be able to position themselves to the consumer. And for us, long-form infomercials gave us the ability to be able to demonstrate our products and really articulate to the consumer our differences. You fast forward to today and the biggest advertising vehicle we have today is social media. I mean, we built our social media team up tremendously over the last few years. We have products like the Ninja Creami that have a billion impressions on TikTok. Our Shark FlexStyle hairdryer has over 700 million impressions on TikTok.”

SharkNinja’s holiday performance
“We didn’t see discounting above the levels that we saw the prior year. I think that was a big concern for folks as to how promotional the holiday selling season would be — and for us, we invested very heavily in new product development. We invested very heavily in marketing and advertising. And we were very happy coming out of the holiday season. And we feel like our inventories are at a good level, our new products — products like the Ninja Thirsti at-home beverage maker, products like our Shark CarpetXpert, which was our first launch into carpet extraction and spot and steam cleaning — performed very well. You know, it was the first holiday season for our Ninja woodfire oven and outdoor oven. So it was an opportunity for us to really present a lot of new ideas to the consumer. And I think that’s what resonated.”