Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club went from upstarts to behemoths, shaking up the century-old razor category in just a few short years. But there’s still more market share to shave off the top.
What about women’s razors?
That’s the question that Billie, a razor subscription service for women founded last year, is aiming to answer.
Blades and shaving cream for women generally cost more than the same products aimed at men – a perfect example of “the pink tax,” said Georgina Gooley, co-founder of Billie, which closed a $6 million seed round in April. And traditional marketing campaigns, like those from Gillette Venus or Schick, feature women daintily running razors over already perfectly smooth, shaved legs. It’s unrealistic.
That’s why Billie is celebrating body hair in its first marketing campaign. The centerpiece of the campaign, launched in late June, is a short film featuring women proudly showing off their body hair.
The goal is to get the video into as many news feeds as possible, and Billie is spending the bulk of its budget on paid media targeted at women across Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
“We want to be where our customers are consuming media,” said Gooley, who spent more than eight years in account management roles at agencies, including Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Wieden + Kennedy, before the idea for Billie hit.
Although Gooley declined to share specific numbers, Billie reached its 12-month subscription goals in under five months following the company’s launch in November.
Gooley spoke with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: How would you describe Billie’s digital marketing strategy?
GEORGINA GOOLEY: Other brands often create a blog or some other destination and then they have to drive people there. We’re creating snackable content and we’re putting it into people’s feeds so they don’t have to search for us.
Where did the idea for Billie come from?
My co-founder [Jason Bravman] and I saw that men’s razor subscriptions were getting a lot of traction in the shaving category – but we were wondering why the same thing didn’t exist for women. Personally, I was using men’s razors on principle, not wanting to pay extra just because I’m a woman. Most of the women’s razor brands started out as men’s brands first, and that’s a big part of why there’s a disconnect between them and the women buying their products.
What’s the vision with your new campaign?
We’re completely an ecommerce business. Everything we do is direct-to-consumer online, and that’s why we’re focusing this campaign online. We want people to view it, share it and comment on it. All of the content we create, not just for this campaign, is mobile-first so that it’s easily and quickly consumable.
We put paid media behind it to boost engagement, and we’ve noticed that when we pay it also helps organic. We’re focusing on social channels for prospecting and retargeting.
How do you think about content creation?
We’re still young, and so our whole ethos is about experimentation. We’re testing and learning and doing it as quickly as we can. Most of our content is for Instagram, and we’re also pulling inspo and other UGC images from the internet. With every new piece of content we put out there, we learn something and apply what we’ve learned.
Are traditional CPGs hamstrung by their more legacy approach to marketing?
There are lots of direct-to-consumer brands popping up, and we’re new competition for the CPG companies. That said, they still do have the lion’s share of the market. But if a brand gets to the point where it’s not learning anymore, where it’s just relying on best practices that are years old, then it’s not keeping up. The media environment is changing every day.
Does data play a role in your marketing strategy?
The relationship that a brand builds with its customers is a construct of art and science, and both are important. We’re a subscription business, so we’re not just looking for a one-off date with our customer, we’re looking for a long-term relationship, and we use data to help with that.
What’s an example of a data-informed decision you made?
As a subscription company, we’d love to send you our product every month, but we also know that a lot of women don’t shave every day, so they don’t need razor blade replacements sent that often, and forcing them to sign up for a monthly service might deter them.
From launch, we decided to let people subscribe to get razors every one, two or three months, because it’s more important to keep our customers happy over a long period of time rather than getting monthly revenue from a small pool of people.
That’s the difference between listening to your customers, understanding their behavior and using data versus building your business based off of looking at margins and revenue on a spreadsheet.
You have a lot of agency experience on your resume. Does Billie work with an agency?
We don’t, and there’s no plan to bring on an agency. I’ll never say never, but, at least for now, there’s a strong freelance pool out there and it makes more sense for us to stay nimble. Whenever we have a project, we build a team around it as opposed to retaining an agency.
How different is the direct-to-consumer approach to marketing from more traditional brands?
If you’re safe and stagnant as a small company, you’re never going to get any traction. We have to really understand our audience and what they care about, and we’ve got to figure out a way to do it scrappy.
We don’t have the resources that the big brands do, but we also don’t have to think about “the way it’s always been done.” There are no best practices yet, because we’re testing everything. That sort of hunger is what makes a lot of D2C brands fresher than legacy brands.