US sock subscription business dips a toe into Aussie market
Sock subscription business Foot Cardigan has been gradually strengthening its social media presence and introducing new products, as it gauges the growth opportunity in the Australian market.
Started in 2012 on the back of Dollar Shave Club’s success, the Dallas-based sock retailer delivers a new pair of irreverently-patterned socks to subscribers once a month.
Over the past five years, Foot Cardigan has gained around 45,000 subscribers from 80 countries.
While around 85 per cent of customers are based in the US, Australia is currently the company’s second biggest international market behind Canada, according to Foot Cardigan’s co-founder and CEO Bryan DeLuca.
“We started seeing a lot more orders coming in from Australia, which prompted us to look into [the market] a little more.
“We saw that Australians were adopting a lot of the convenience services like Deliveroo, and they had a similar sense of humour…so we decided to put a little more power into getting into Australia,” DeLuca said.
It’s the first foreign market the company has explicitly targeted, using Facebook ads, forming a partnership with Deliveroo and producing a ‘Sydney’ sock.
“In a matter of a few months, we’ve seen our subscriber base in Australia jump by three times,” DeLuca said, though he admitted the base rate was in the low hundreds to start.
Foot Cardigan’s most likely next step in the Australian market will involve partnerships with Aussie retailers that have a similar “vibe and reputation”, DeLuca said.
He pointed to Vinomofo in particular as a relevant brand, although he said he hasn’t discussed the idea with the wine company yet.
“I would love to have a presence in Australia…I don’t know exactly what that means. We’d have to get to a good number [of subscribers] before that makes sense,” he said.
The company’s international expansion comes as it bumps up against the natural limits of its subscription business model in the US.
Unlike razors, most people don’t keep buying new socks indefinitely. At some point, their sock drawer is simply too full.
“We think about that every day,” DeLuca said, citing the fact that Foot Cardigan’s average subscriber sticks around for 7-8 months.
“For us to be sustainable, we may not always be a subscription company. We’ve created a really interesting brand that’s quirky and irreverent and that sells [socks] in other ways too – not just through subscriptions. We need to have other options.”
DeLuca says Foot Cardigan has thought about expanding into other accessories like underwear, but for now, socks are working.