In the latest in ECA’s interview series with founders and CEOs of innovative ecommerce brands, we speak with Matt Hiscock, UK general manager, Harry’s.
Can you tell us about Harry’s and the business model?
We founded Harry’s because buying shaving supplies was a really bad customer experience, and the products themselves were often overpriced and over-designed. We saw an opportunity to build a brand that’s more relatable, more thoughtful, and more real than the others on the market. Since taking on shaving, we’ve begun to address the same challenge across other categories in men’s care, including body, hair and skin.
Our goal at Harry’s is to put our customers first. Today this means being readily available however and wherever they want to shop—whether that’s on harrys.com, in mass retail, or at one of our specialty partners —whilst also giving to organisations that promote better mental health care for men as part of our social mission.
We set aside 1% of our sales to donate to charitable organisations that share our ambition to bring quality mental health care to men everywhere. We built Harry’s as a brand for all men. At the heart of our mission is a belief in creating things people like more.
Is the subscription part of the company still important?
Most definitely, the brand started with the subscription model which very much remains as an integral part of our digital offering. Our shave plan customers have played a huge part in helping us to build relevant experiences which have enabled us to forge direct relationships with the people we serve.
Customer feedback is highly valued at Harry’s, as an agile business, we’re able to listen and iterate, to deliver the best experience possible. In fact, we chose to launch with retail partners based on consumer feedback – they wanted the option to buy in the most convenient way suited to them, so we expanded into retail to meet a growing demand and customer need. Shopping online still remains a huge preference for a large group of our customers who enjoy the personalised experience of choosing their plan and having products sent directly to them, taking the hassle out of their everyday activities.
What prompted the decision to sell through major retailers and how valuable is this versus DTC?
Harry’s was founded to deliver customers an exceptional grooming experience at a fair price. Since we launched Harry’s DTC in the UK in 2017, we really got to know our customers, which is one of the key facets of being a DTC business. We’ve had hundreds of conversations with them every day through our customer CX team, and understood that guys would love to buy our product in traditional retail too.
Our first retail partnership was with Boots back in 2019, which allowed us to expand our mission to bring accessibility to our products for guys everywhere. We are dedicated to continuing to provide our customers with the best products and experience of getting ready in the morning and are focused on being where guys want to shop – whether that’s online or in stores. Today, Harry’s is the number two shave brand in some of the retailers where we’re stocked nationwide – such as Superdrug and Sainsbury’s.
Can you share some numbers – regular customers, subscription numbers etc…?
Globally, Harry’s brand revenue has grown 14% year-to-date and our shave business alone has more than 20 million customers across the US, Canada and UK. This year we celebrated our one millionth international DTC customer. Most recently, Harry’s entered new European markets including the Netherlands, France and Germany, enabling us to expand and offer guys an alternative further afield.
How tough has it been to move beyond razors into other categories?
Since taking on shaving in 2017, we have expanded to offer easy-to-navigate products that solve for unmet grooming needs across categories including hair, body and scalp. This year we expanded into skincare, introducing new easy-to-use products to help guys prep, moisturise and target blemishes.
When it comes to skincare, we know that guys are interested in taking better care of their skin but have a tough time figuring out what’s right for them. Our aim was to remove the guesswork from skincare and create an easy solution for guys who want to improve.
What challenges have you faced and what elements have you had to adapt? What have been the key lessons learnt?
Funnily enough, the early challenges were actually figuring out how to make razors!
We needed to ensure we had a reliable manufacturer who could produce the blades on mass – and there are few of those around. Luckily, we found ‘Feintechnik’, who produce blades in Germany and who came with over 100 years of experience. We worked extremely closely with the team there and not long after launch, the opportunity to buy the factory came about. This puts us in a pretty unique position as a vertically integrated, agile business.
Part of your sales go to charity – how important is this purpose-driven approach?
As a men’s care brand that serves over 10 million men globally, Harry’s cares deeply about men and their lives. Since Harry’s launched in 2013, each year we have given 1% of revenue to charitable organisations that share in the brand’s ambition to bring quality mental health care to men everywhere. We do this because, actually, it’s nothing short of an epidemic.
Each of our partners serves vulnerable populations of men in different ways. We give to organisations that promote better mental health care for men. Globally, Harry’s has donated over $5 million, working with 14 charities worldwide. Our goal is to reach 1.5 million men and ensure they get access to the mental health care they need by 2024.
Not simple, but, we think, doable. Harry’s currently works with SHOUT & BLAM in the UK to support their mental health initiatives and campaigns. Harry’s is also proud to be supporting TRIM-IT with their UK-wide rollout, as well as connecting TRIM-IT with SHOUT to offer optional mental health training to every barber because we know the barber chair can be a safe place for men to open up.
What’s your best route for customer acquisition and how do you retain them?
As we founded Harry’s as a digitally-native brand, DTC is where we’ve built the most meaningful connections from the start, and as a result, have a leg-up on the incumbents in today’s world. We intricately understand both physical and digital retail channels, and how best to market to customers on each, which has helped us to both attract and retain customers.
What are the biggest opportunities for Harry’s?
Right now we’re focused on Harry’s continued growth and expanding into even more categories over the next year.