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Today we're talking about Manscaped, a company that's taken on the multi-billion dollar men's hygiene market by expanding the category considerably and a marketing strategy that's one of the best in the business for their target customer. We're going to learn how Manscaped used positioning to their advantage and then we'll jump into what they're doing great, and not so great, with their subscription retention strategy. So you can use this as a nice case study for your own DTC brand.
Manscaped needs to gather more information. The point of collecting information is to use it to prevent future churn.
Offer a survey or a free response to learn more.
Offer salvage offers. Save 15-30% of customers by offering salvage offers and a clear off-boarding experience.
Implement a win-back campaign.
- Term optimization
Manscaped needs to go much deeper on term optimization. Longer-term subscriptions
- Retain customers at a 15-30% percent higher rate than monthly subscriptions.
Offer longer-term plans in exchange for a discount.
Remind customers to upgrade to a longer-term plan with a plain text email and an offer with a one-click upgrade.
- Credit card failure process
Manscaped needs to upscale their credit card failure process. They're losing thousands, if not millions, by doing the minimum.
They need four to five plain text emails that go out in an intelligent drip based on the customer's behavior after they realize the card's declined.
They need SMS messages in this flow.
They need to liven up their credit card form a bit more to properly capture the user in a more secure and pleasing way.
Manscaping is the act of trimming or grooming men’s body hair. While you may think this is a modern convention, it’s actually not a new concept. In WW1 manscaping was introduced to armies for safety. Millions of soldiers needed to pack tightly into small spaces for travel, and the risk of lice and other hair borne illnesses was significant. This led to the crew cut and the “clean look,” as well as the totality of care known as manscaping.
Decades later this phenomenon caused Paul Tran to found Manscaped in 2017 and set out on a mission “to create an open and empowered male culture that results in more practivity around self-care, optimal health, and healthy self-esteem.” Male grooming has come a long way from being ridiculed and derided and in that spirit Tran noticed that while male hygiene was on the rise, few products actually existed to help men in particular with their grooming needs. Manscaped fills that gap with their line of male trimmers and plenty of other products to keep men looking and feeling good.
First, Manscaped went after a need that was on the rise, but highly disregarded—trimming your body hair. This type of grooming wasn’t necessarily taboo, but wasn’t really talked about. Manscaped brought body grooming to the forefront and when you mixed in some clever marketing, you all of a sudden had men across the globe asking, “Wait….should I trim down there? My chest too?” Manscaped accelerated the market just by forcing the question and conversation. Throw in plenty of testimonials from women who express their preference for grooming and you have a recipe for take off.
The focus was also backed up by a commitment to quality. Similar to other men’s products on the market, there are plenty of options to do the job, but Manscaped sought to create premium tools, rather than just something that worked. Their lawn mower trimmer is specifically designed to groom the groin area and other parts of men’s bodies. Their boxers have anti-chafing technology. They have deodorant and aloe toner for down there. They just focused on going all in with quality products that created a premium experience.
Manscaped simply doesn’t know how to create bad products. They don’t spare on active ingredients, design aesthetics, materials, or finishes. Everything is focused on quality for comfort, efficiency, and of course, safety. These are sensitive parts after all.
Manscaped’s commitment to quality and widening the men’s market have certainly paid dividends with estimates putting them well into the nine figures. They’re continuing to expand with internationalization on the mind, and with thousands of positive reviews, we doubt they’re going to be stopping anytime soon.
Manscaped's retention review
Not everything's amazing about Manscaped's strategy, though there is a lot we can learn from them. Their retention does need work. Most brands though, don't focus on this aspect of their business enough.
Why is retention important?
You spend half of your budget and time acquiring customers, but to be successful, you need to keep them. The beauty of the subscription model is that the relationship with the customer is baked directly into how you make money. If that customer is happy, they'll keep buying from you in the long term. If they're upset or not seeing the value, they'll cancel quickly.
Plus, money talks here. Those subscription ecommerce companies using the tactics we're going to talk about have 2x the customer lifetime value (LTV), 2x the average order value, and 3x higher growth rates, because they're not worried about plugging a leaky retention bucket.
To highlight the importance here, let's look through Manscaped's retention strategy and break down what they're doing well, and not so well, so you can learn for your own DTC business.
Retention has three parts:
- Active churn, which are customers who are actively choosing to cancel your product.
- Expansion revenue, which are your existing customers that buy more product.
- Delinquent (or involuntary) churn, which are customers who's credit card or payment has failed, which sadly is one of the largest single buckets of where you're losing money.
Manscaped's active churn:
When we look at Manscaped's active churn, there are so many reasons why a customer may cancel. We want to make sure Manscaped is not only setting up their customers for long-term retention in the initial purchasing process, but that they're also collecting information on why someone's cancelling, if they so happen to, in order to get a clean cycle of retention improvement.
Manscaped is one of the better brands we've seen in terms of handling their cancellation flows. When you go to cancel they get in front of you and look for cancellation reasoning and then prompt you with some cheeky copy that encourages you to stay by pausing or changing up your plan.
We want to see more information gathering, especially when transitioning to an actual cancellation. They aren't asking us for a survey or even for a free response to learn more, and it doesn't appear that this cancellation reason is getting logged. Remember the whole point of collecting information is to use it to prevent future churn.
The other improvement that is needed here, is using some type of salvage offer. You likely don't want to give this offer simply to folks who are complaining about price, but through some deeper measurement Manscaped can likely discover that offering up a deeper discount or some sort of offer, if the customer signs up for a longer term plan, can go a long way.
Sometimes people need some extra months to really get into the routine of using your product. And if that doesn't convince you, the numbers support this, as well. We've found that those companies that properly offer up salvage offers and a clear off-boarding experience tend to save 15-30% more customers—this is based on a study we completed studying just over one thousand DTC subscription companies.
Manscaped's expansion revenue prowess:
Expansion revenue is crucial, because your existing customers are more than willing to buy 3x more from you—you just have to make sure to ask. Plus, those customers who have at least one add-on or additional purchase tend to have 18-54% higher lifetime value, meaning they're paying you more over the life of the subscription, but they're also sticking around longer, because they're more engrained within your product.
Manscaped did a pretty good job in this area. They offer up bundle packs that aren't quite subscriptions, but get us into the Manscaped sphere of influence pretty quickly. This is something that can't be talked about enough. From their commercials and copy to the actual products, Manscaped is pushing their users into a lifestyle. You want customers to think of you when they think about certain activities. That association is amazing for both reducing cancellations and getting you to buy more product.
The other, more tactical piece, we think Manscaped does really well is they put add-ons in the checkout flow and tell you that if you bundle you end up saving. There are a lot of options here, which may be a bit much, so we'd actually test what Billie and Lola do, which is basically show only two to three options, but they're definitely expanding average order value here.
One piece they could do a better job with is the donation for testicular cancer. They put the donation button and this information on the order confirmation page, which is fine, but this should be a primary add-on in the actual order flow. This won't help necessarily with expansion revenue, because that revenue is going to go to a donation, but we continually find that donations as a part of subscriptions increase retention by 10-20 % - this based on a study we completed on just over thirty thousand DTC subscription customers. .
When donations are a line item you further make the product part of your identity, and in doing so, you want to keep the product not only for the quality and use, but also to keep the donation going.
Manscaped's credit card failure flow:
Now let's talk about the sexiest topic in the world—credit card failures. We know you don't wake up sweating in the middle of the night thinking about credit cards—that's our job—but here's why we obsess over things like this: just under 40% of the customers that leave you are leaving you because of failed payments. To get these folks back, we want to make sure Manscaped is treating these folks like a marketing channel, sending them messages before the point of failures, all the way to after the point of failure through email and text messages.
One great thing Manscaped did is make sure that when we click on these emails we don't need to log in to update our credit card. The landing page is kind of meh, and looks a little scammy since it doesn't look like the rest of their brand, but that friction reduction is key. Based on what we're seeing, we bet Manscaped could double their recovery rate. We don't have perfect insight into their business, but that's likely hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not into the millions in terms of customer lifetime value.
Manscaped is doing the basics, which is better than most, but there's some key misses in their strategy. For one, they're only sending two emails in response to a failed credit card and both of them are pseudo plain text and pseudo html marketing emails. We find plain text works so much better than html market-y emails. Have them come from a human being and make sure the copy really boosts the value of the product. Manscaped's copy isn't bad, but it's kind of generic and makes us feel like we can just ignore the call to action.
And while you don't want to send too many emails, the key is typically a four to five emails in an intelligent drip over a 14-day period after the initial card fails. Keep in mind that if you don't get updated payment information, these customers aren't coming back and you can make this a great experience by spending some time on the copy. Also, why not send me an SMS message? We didn't get any of those for the payment failure.
We think that while Manscaped's done an above average job, there's a good amount of work to be done. They just need to take the talent they've applied to the brand, product, and experience and apply it more to the retention side of their business.
Let's revamp. First though, why do we feel we have any authority to even talk about this? Roughly 20% of the entire subscription market is using ProfitWell, so we're sitting on more data than anyone else. Simply put, we have the data to know what works and what doesn't, and we care more about this problem than anyone else out there.
Let's walk through three big things we'd change immediately about Manscaped's retention strategy, so we can all learn for our own brands.
3 changes needed now:
- Cancellation flow
We'd upgrade that cancellation flow. Right now it's not bad, but it's probably not giving Manscaped enough information to go back and fix up their retention properly with their different customer segments. The offers also don't appear to be that dynamic and the design could use some work.This is more of an optimization vs. something major. Yet, there's likely incremental improvement to be made in the number of customers they can save through these optimizations. Another big piece here is win-back campaigns. One of our subscriptions was cancelled in December and the other in June, but we haven't really received any solid win-back emails except the general marketing we received. There's a good amount of users who just need to be reminded of the experience, rather than treated like everyone else.
- Term optimization
We'd love to see Manscaped go much deeper on term optimization. Right now we're not seeing a customer able to pre-pay for an extended subscription in exchange for some cash off. This is a missed opportunity for such a habit and health product. We're sure some buyers may just want to set it and forget it with their deliveries and such. Give us the opportunity to buy an annual or even six months for a bit of a discount or even some sort of an offer.The big thing to keep in mind here is that those longer term subscription retain customers at a 15 to 30 percent higher rate than monthly subscriptions, as we found in doing a study on over two thousand DTC subscription companies, so even an incremental amount of customers on these plans will pay dividends.Keep in mind that you can ask customers not only in the checkout flow, but also, after the purchase has been made. New users may want to try the product out before committing to something longer, so reminding them through a plain text email with an offer and then a one-click upgrade to a longer-term plan helps boost overall lifetime value considerably.
- Credit card failure process Manscaped needs to upscale their credit card failure process. They aren't a small brand anymore and should stop acting like one with their current process, because they're losing a lot of money by doing the minimum. They need four to five plain text emails that go out in an intelligent drip based on the customer's behavior after they realize the card's declined, and those obviously don't send when a credit card gets back on file. They need SMS messages in this flow and they need to liven up their credit card form a bit more to properly capture the user in a more secure and pleasing way
The changes Manscaped needs aren't major, but they'll have a big impact. We're most excited about the market share and retention they can gain by applying great copywriting and marketing to this part of their flows. It's a great company and we know they can succeed here in boosting that recovery rate substantially
Who's up next?
Next week we're talking about the multi-billion dollar t-shirt industry, which is not only large but primed for disruption given men have started to become more minimalistic over the past 20 years. The DTC brand we'll be digging into is Wohven, which has a phenomenal set of subscriptions to keep your t-shirts fresh. So, make sure you subscribe to Boxed Out, and tell your friends so we can get this knowledge into the as many hands as possible.