'The death of retail', a phrase we've been hearing far too much of recently. Rants and raves about online next day delivery killing the high street, tears shed at the closing of many heritage brands (so long, Laura Ashley) and a 'humph!' here or there about many companies pushing their digital market and reducing their physical presence. All this worry and upset about how the industry is changing takes away from the excitement and innovation that comes with such changes; a digital revolution. More and more we are seeing digitally native brands creating waves in the sector; businesses that were born online can make a huge impact across a massive reach, really fast and this marks them as quite the force to be reckoned with.
Brands that come out of the digital delivery room have some very unique ways of navigating markets, it's a new landscape with new rules and new limits. In the physical world, a retailer opens a shop based on where its target markets exist; opening a football souvenir shop near a stadium is a prime example. Digital brands don't need to do this, their reach isn't proximal but expands to target exactly who they are looking to attract, wherever they may be on the planet. So how are digitally native brands using their turf to their advantage? We checked out two brands who have performed astoundingly and changed the game in both their sectors...
Founded in 2013, Harry's has captured almost 2% of the entire men's shaving industry since. Born out of frustration with over-designed razors and queueing at drug stores, Harry's founders Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider took to digital to target their consumers. Their online-doorstep delivery service features razors and men's grooming products in monthly packages. Male grooming has skyrocketed in recent years and access to products online has been a great contributor. Studies report that over 50% of men prefer shopping for grooming products online, and it's no surprise. With most brands offering next day delivery, the process is just as convenient. It also provides some security for the large proportion of the market that are 'closet' groomers, still wishing to retain some privacy and keep their routines private. Online purchase and delivery maintains this privacy for those in the demographic who are uncomfortable going into stores for these sorts of purchases. Digital brands can offer education and advise on their products straight to the consumer from the brand itself, this something of great value to today's consumer and is extremely important to a sector that is just beginning to open up their voice. Not only this, but they are able to offer personalised product packages - when it comes to self care and maintenance, we all have different needs, the option to personalise our purchases makes investments in these sorts of brands highly attractive. Harry's have brilliantly shown how digital can be used to open up an almost untapped market, or at least one with heaps of untapped potential.
Emily Weiss was a styling assistant in New York City when she began her Into The Gloss blog in 2010. The blog was a hit, ammassing 10 million page views a month covering beauty and grooming regimes, interviews with minor celebs and other beauty related content. In 2014, Weiss sought out investment for expansion to include e-commerce, growing her digital conversation into a service. Glossier was born. Growing from a blog, the online community that already existed created the perfect market research, a conversation amongst real consumers about how they interact with the beauty industry and what they want from it. Glossier was able to launch products directly to the market that they knew would be received well and in a manner that engaged. The visual flexibility of Instagram is a powerful tool for any brand, Glossier used it perfectly to craft an aesthetic that appealed to their desired audience. The platform also provided an ideal way of showcasing products and creating further conversation between the brand and their community. Followers could see how products can be used before committing to purchase - usually only available from attending makeup counters. The chance to respond directly to these posts not only allowed praise and approval but suggestions and recommendations for use or improvement from the expansive beauty community. This put Glossier in a unique position to act reactively to their market's demands and retain a relationship in which they're always providing the best service to the loyal customers. Glossier now has three permanent retail stores in Los Angeles, New York City and London - all decked out to match their online aesthetic, they even have a reputation for creative instagram inspired pop-ups that encourage even more engagement from the community. Job well done, Glossier.
The digital plane offers so much flexibility when it comes to how you market your brand, and the two we've looked at testaments to just how adaptable a space it can be. Harry's is able to provide privacy and information for a market who are just tipping their toes in the water, using their online presence to educate and encourage their consumers to explore more. Glossier is able to hold up an entire community and then use that to create ideal products that meet a demand - all achieved through their online conversations and interactivity. How many other brands are surfacing that are so accurate in their approach? We're still at the start of digital retail, who knows how brands will be able to use digital to their advantage as connectivity advances.