As the founder of one - the beauty supplements brand Hum Nutrition - I see a vital role for both online and bricks and mortar. Consumers still like to shop in retail for the experience, despite slowing sales growth. This is especially true for premium retailers, where the storefront has become a destination.
In order to create footfall, retailers such as Apple and Sephora rely on incredible architecture, education and special events. This experience is hard to replicate online since it involves a sensually pleasing, intellectually stimulating and socially interactive component.
During that phase, consumers are in a true discovery mode, which is crucial for new brands like HUM to establish the first point of contact. Therefore, we made the strategic decision to build a brand that excels in both worlds and launched HUM online and exclusively with Sephora to anchor the brand firmly in a premium environment. In other words: the perfect showroom for discovery.
To succeed, we designed our item fixtures, shelf displays and packaging to neatly manage the discovery process in a premium retail environment. We draw consumers in with very distinct packaging; we get our brand message across in two seconds and allow consumers to find their most suitable solution in about 10 to 20 seconds. Our shelf displays are also a secondary education tool for any sales force.
Third party validation is absolutely crucial for my company, especially since we are building a premium brand that is ingestible. Before purchase consumers are actively seeking additional validation points. This means that consumers with zero brand awareness need reassurance that the premium price point is justified to open up their brand universe to the “new kid on the block.”
This is where online plays a major role. In retail, the only third party validation available is the reputation of the retailer and a sales force (which, due to logistical reasons, cannot touch every consumer). Online, however, consumers can read multiple reviews from other consumers or seek out validation from influencers on digital or social media. The latter also play an important role in the discovery process, which why it is absolutely crucial that the product not only stands out in retail but also on digital and social media.
For that we use color-coding very effectively to contrast traditionally black and white beauty pages. This gives our brand a huge advantage on social media channels, like Instagram, where the story needs to be told in images. Speaking of a story, it is also vital that every touch point delivers on the premium image of the brand and, most importantly, that the product delivers on its promises.
Which brings me to my last point: a brand must deliver positive results, which why we put a huge emphasis on science and R&D. Only products that deliver will lead to repeat purchase and great reviews. Without those, the brand will never make it past the discovery process.
About the expert:
Walter Faulstroh is a serial health and wellness entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, CA. His first venture, V Water, the No1 vitamin water in the UK, was acquired by PepsiCo Intl in 2008.
His second venture, FitForFree UK is one of Europe’s most profitable health and fitness chains and his latest endeavor Hum Nutrition, a subscription service to personalized beauty supplements that is also sold through Sephora has seen phenomenal growth rates since its inception a few years ago.
Walter has been entrepreneurial from an early age on, selling cherries at the age of 4 on the doorstep of his fathers’ factory and holds a degree in Finance from NYU and an MBA from INSEAD business school (ranked No1 globally by the FT in 2016).