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Fabulous, mate!

Chris Cassar and Rick Glenn saw an opportunity to sell men’s grooming and skincare products online and wanted their website himage.com.au to give male consumers the ideal experience. Enter the Kick Start panel with some surprising insights on how men feel about shopping.

The panel

  • Jonathan Crossfield, NetRegistry, expertise: web presence, online marketing
  • Louise Kelly, Hearts and Minds, expertise: marketing and branding
  • Hollie Turner, Pearl PR, expertise: public relations
  • Josh Mehlman, Nett magazine

Men need skincare too!

Josh: How did you come up with the idea for the business?

Chris: Rick and I met in London seven years ago when we were working together. We are both very time-poor people and we view online retail as a good option for people like us. We saw nobody was doing really well in the grooming area for men.

Rick: Retail stores such as Myer and DJs aren’t doing it overly well at the moment, especially since men have to shop in the women’s cosmetics area. And the range is pretty limited; there are maybe four big names. But once we researched the market, we found dozens of really top-quality male brands out there.

‘The media loves research because they don’t have the time and resources to do it themselves’ – Hollie Turner

Chris: We’re mainly focusing on skincare: moisturizers, toners, and shaving at the moment. We’ve had research showing the market in Australia is worth $400 million. We thought if we could grab even a small piece of that, fantastic. We considered opening a retail store first but the options are limited; you need to go to Chapel St in Melbourne or Oxford St in Sydney. To get a store the right size, you’re looking at an initial commitment of $350,000. So we thought we’d do the reverse of what most people do and open an online store first.

How do men shop?

Louise: There are some very interesting things about male behavior. Something I find very intriguing is that a lot of straight men hate shopping. Unless you’re talking about metrosexuals, which is a very small segment, they actually find the whole thing embarrassing and think the process has been designed for women.

Rick: The women’s cosmetics floor is intimidating.

Louise: I speak to a lot of business executives on very big pay packets and they don’t even want to go into a shop.

Finding a target market

Hollie: You need to be very specific about who you’re targeting. Are you targeting gay men? The 25-30-year-olds?

Chris: Our audience is 25 and older professionals.

Hollie: I think there is a huge market for men in their late 20s and 30s who are starting to earn really good money. They shop online because they don’t have time to go shopping. The last thing my boyfriend would want is for his workmates to know he buys expensive eye cream.

Louise: But he does, and so do all his workmates.

Rick: We spent some good money on branding Homage and when we went through the process they asked us if we wanted to target the gay market specifically because that would make it a whole lot easier. But that didn’t sit well with us.

Louise: I think the whole pink dollar concept has fallen over. Gay men in their 20s and 30s hang out with their straight friends, it’s not a big deal anymore. They don’t buy a ‘gay brand’; they’re just looking for quality.

The classic problem is that marketing folklore tends to be about eight years behind what’s really going on and you can’t run a business on such out-of-date ideas.

You need to find men who spend a lot on grooming products and spend an hour with them. Find out how they make grooming decisions and how they feel when they’re making them. Being online gives your customers convenience and saves time but you’ll make a lot more money if your customers think you understand the way they think and feel.

Feeling emotional

Chris: Should we be pushing the angle that we have the biggest range in Australia?

Jonathan: There is a danger when you talk about your value proposition because it’s not going to be true forever. Right now you’ve identified this gap in the market so you’re going to create an easy-to-use website that is convenient for men and has the best range of products. But other brands are going to clue in and improve; you’re not going to be by yourselves forever.

Louise: The value proposition that my bells and whistles are better than their bells and whistles, doesn’t work anymore. The speed to market in copying products is really fast. The way to own the market is emotion-driven and you need to understand how to create emotional intensity. The way to do that is through in-depth interviews. You ask your focus group about emotional things, about their ideal self, and who they want to be when they buy your products.

We recommend you pick out five golden customers, people who spend more than 10 grand per year on grooming, and then you can really get into their decision-making processes. #Read the full article here.

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