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Startups

Men’s subscription service makes bricks and mortar move

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

Curiosity is a reoccurring trait that radiates from truly innovative retailers in Australia. Fuelled by a passionate CEO or founder, an internal culture of passion with a united brand ethos is born and resonates from all employees into stores, and ultimately onto the consumer. From the likes of Chris Kyvetos of Sneakerboy to Luke Baylis of SumoSalad, innovation emerges from these inquisitive retailers asking ‘what if?’

From ‘what if’ comes a period of listening to find the answers. Listening solely to the consumer voice; for Sneakerboy this has been via social media, for SumoSalad, their highly engaged following of 200,000 healthy food lovers have spoken up. For Sydney based start-up, gentSac this period of listening has come from branded pop-ups at fashion markets across Sydney over the past summer, and now the consumer has spoken, the retailer is set to make their next move.

Back in December we explored the concept of subscription models in retailing with a focus on gentSac’s customer-centric retail strategy built around consumer insights gained in-house, which allowed them to successfully cater and build a strong following within their target audience at a more intimate level than many other young brands.

Taking a soft launch approach with solely organic marketing through word of mouth and social media presence, as well as brand-enhancing pop-up shops, the business was setting out to gather invaluable data and live consumer feedback from the very beginning.

The consumers spoke, and gentSac has listened.

Speaking to founder Shira O’Sullivan-Linker, the business has grown rapidly by “tracking, measuring and pivoting [the business] based on customers’ needs, wants and likes”. By investing in this period of listening through the pop-ups, O’Sullivan-Linker and team, have been able to gather first hand consumer insights, the brand has grown organically, all before any serious investment in marketing spend has begun.

“After all, the best marketing is getting yourself out there in person; see in real time the reaction to the product and brand message,” O’Sullivan-Linker said.

The pop-ups highlighted a valuable trend in purchase behaviour with the physical presence significantly impacting their online subscription model, which remains at the core of the business.

“In this country, the culture doesn’t allow for men to have confidence around investing time and money into the concept of grooming due to the fear of ‘appearing feminine’,” said O’Sullivan-Linker. The pop-up has revealed that with an open face-to-face conversation around men’s grooming and a first hand introduction to the quality of the premium organic products, all from brands specifically created for men, the preconceived stigma was overcome, revenue increased and the brand saw the beginning of a loyal database of repeat customers.

Consequently, this week sees the next step in the gentSac customer-centric journey – the opening of their first retail store.

Described by O’Sullivan-Linker as a “retail space with an omni-focus” the new store is set to open Thursday May 12 in The Galeries Sydney. The store will hold a ‘first in, best dressed’ policy with limited stock, but ultimately act as a base for the quality of the products and tailored subscription packages to be introduced, and central location for the conversation around men’s grooming to begin.

With this brand confidently remaining agile, asking ‘what if’ and remaining curious, we are excited to see what the future holds not only for the business, but for the culture around men’s grooming.

Vikki Weston is part of Retail Doctor Group’s Retail Insights team and can be contacted via [email protected]

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