This past May, Custora announced a new benchmarking feature within our platform. Supergoop found themselves at the top of 100+ retail marketers across all three major retail performances areas.
Through our extensive work with retailers, we have privileged access to some of the retail world’s top brands, and with this access, we’ve been able to develop a holistic view of how retailers in various industries are performing across key metrics.
In gathering all of the retail industry data, we were able to get a birds-eye-view of the market across three business categories comprising ten key metrics. And it was immediately obvious that some organizations were far ahead of the pack in certain areas.
One such market leader is skincare disruptor Supergoop, overall winner of Custora’s inaugural customer obsession awards.
Supergoop is a clean prestige skincare brand totally dedicated to sun care. Their goal is to make it easy for everyone to incorporate UV protection into their daily routines by adding SPF to the products that people are already using.
Custora CEO and Cofounder Corey Pierson sat down with Supergoop’s Head of Direct to Consumer Michael Engert to learn more about how they outperformed 100+ in growth and customer-centricity.
To hear their conversation in full, you can listen to the audio here:
Below are our favorite nuggets of strategic wisdom and tactical knowledge from Vadim (edited for brevity and clarity).
Being New in a Hyper-Competitive Vertical
Michael Engert: We think about competition all the time. Because we were early to this idea of “skincare really starts with sun care,” and clean ingredients, and being fully transparent… now I think the market has finally arrived to where we were 10 years ago, it's really important for us to own that conversation, to be viewed as a source of truth, and so we're always thinking about competition, and also thinking about how we can stay out in front.
On that note, I think we have hugely benefited from a founder who was out in front of this opportunity. Our ability to punch above our weight as a small brand really comes back to our people. The folks down in Texas help to create an amazing brand and products, and our brand marketing team, as we've expanded the New York office here, has just run with that.
I think it's because we're small, it's out of that necessity that we may just better value our bandwidth and resources, and that helps us sharpen our focus on what really moves the needle and to prioritize longer-term thinking.
As an example, we spend a tremendous amount of time just thinking about our SMS program.
It's actually where everyone is spending their time. We all obviously are a good example of this, but in less than a year and a half, it's become a top-three revenue channel for us.
When I came on board in 2017 [I asked], "What's going to be really valuable for a small brand in the next six months and 12 months?" Especially when I arrived in October — our big season is Q2 and Q3; we get to avoid some of the Q4 headaches, which is nice — but what could we do basically starting in Q4 2017 that might really position us well for these new products launching in 2018 and a huge summer season that we were looking forward to? Something like SMS was a no brainer.
I think it really does always boil down to the people, and if you surround yourself with everyone thinking about it in the same way, not surprisingly, maybe it helps you better prioritize or just devote resources to those places, where, hopefully, you're generating a near-term benefit, which is obviously important to everyone.
On Acquisition in the Digital Age
We approach things a bit differently. I think traditionally in beauty or in skincare or just frankly in retail, you approach things by campaign or season. While we still do that, we have new products that are launching, and we, of course, have different marketing for different seasons, especially being a skincare-plus-suncare brand.
But we've worked really hard to focus in on the creative. We know that that's the big variable. Facebook and Google have made it a lot easier for us to optimize our ads and to deploy targeting. We've really focused on removing all of the barriers between creative and media, which is incredibly hard at larger organizations who are working with multiple agencies. I also think it's just hard at small places where creative may be thinking about things a little differently than the folks on the media side.
Really trying to build a creative-plus-media process that works, and is efficient, and scales has been a big reason why we've been so successful on the acquisition side.
Ad costs are going up. I think, like everyone else, ours are 50% to 60% higher year over year, but our actual performance, our CAC and our return are actually about where they were last year and that's creative being deployed and learning quickly, and iterating and all that wonderful stuff.
We've been able to quickly pair the acquisition process with some of the data and learnings that you guys are providing us with. Again, we can focus our efforts on the customers that we know will make it easier for us on the retention side.
We work with an SMS company called Attentive Mobile, who are absolutely wonderful.
They've been great on the product, obviously, but also on the support side, which again, it's so important to a smaller brand with a lean team.
At this point, I think about 75% of our revenue is coming from mobile. We see that in both places on the acquisition side as well as the retention side. The majority of that revenue is coming from mobile.
Interestingly, I think the majority of the opportunity is actually off-site. We think a lot about how do we make it easy for someone to convert within the channel that they're using rather than driving them to the site. Instagram Checkout is a good example of this, being able to replenish through SMS is another one.
It's easy to say if everyone's on their phone all day, that's where you should be focusing or we're living in a mobile world, so X, Y, and Z.
The hard part is making the mobile e-commerce experience as enjoyable as apps like Amazon or Instagram or Google Maps. If those apps were as horrible as most mobile sites, then you might be on your phone a lot less, I would think. I think most brands get that, that they need to make the mobile experience as seamless as possible — and we're not perfect by any means — but we actually try really hard not to think about desktop versus mobile. It's just the shopping experience.
We also try really hard, as I mentioned, to remove the site from the equation because, at this point, it's a 15-year-old piece of tech. It's becoming an antiquated solution.
Our Northstar is to introduce you to our brand, it's to sell you your first Supergoop product, it's to replenish that product, it's then to introduce you to a new one — all without ever actually hitting our website. That's the Northstar, that's the utopian vision because it's almost possible, that's almost here. Most importantly, it just has the potential to be a much better user experience.
As I said, we're not quite there yet. We're working on it, but from now until then, I think it's that kind of thinking, having that Northstar in place that ultimately results in a better shopping experience, a more successful mobile strategy, or at least it's proving that way for us if that makes sense.
There’s so much more from this wide-ranging conversation than we couldn’t include in the article, but that just means you have more to look forward to as you click over to your preferred podcast provider and subscribe to Custora Time, which is available at all major podcast streaming services: iTunes / Spotify / Google Podcasts / Stitcher.
Or you can press play right now and listen to the full audio here: