We all know that not all websites are created alike. Some outpace others simply based on their approach.
Huron is one such company changing the game when it comes to performance-based products in the men’s personal care space. With a range of offerings for hair, body, and face – Huron makes men’s care easy. And that’s not solely based on their products! Their website packs a punch by making the buying experience enjoyable from start to finish (you just have to check out their build your own bundle feature).
That’s why we sat down with Matt Mullenax, the co-founder and CEO of Huron, to discuss branding, tracking metrics, and working with Replo to reach customers no matter the barrier. With a rising attention to personal care products, Huron is paving the way for men’s grooming products to soar in a difficult industry.
Their goal? Helping guys help themselves.
Huron was built to be fun thanks to a simplistic and lighthearted approach to men’s personal care. And in an industry largely dominated by female-targeted brands, Huron is perfectly on time to offer a solution for men, by men.
While there should never be an awkwardness to personal care, Matt enlightens us as to the barriers throughout men’s grooming. He tells us that, “oftentimes the personal care category in men’s grooming is awkward to talk about for a lot of customers. After all, body odor, thinning hair, acne and other skin, body, and hair issues aren't typical dinner table conversations.”
Despite a widening of the personal care and beauty industries, there is still this awkwardness to discussing and even de-stigmatizing skincare. We see so much attention in the women’s personal care space, but what are men looking for, if they're even looking at all?
This is where Huron comes in. The thought is to how they can help the consumer go through the journey in a safe place, with guidance along the way as a man figures out his routine in the form of education and a lighthearted, relatable approach.
But this isn’t one of those blanket statements, Matt means what he says. This is a personal care brand from start to finish, emphasis on the personal. He goes on to say that “it’s certainly an area that I have a lot of empathy towards. I was a kid that grew up with bad skin, tried everything under the sun, nothing worked, finally found something that did work and it was an embarrassingly high price point.”
One of the largest barriers in the industry – price.
Again, something that Huron pays attention to when reaching their customer base.
Core Values Of eCommerce
Matt tells us that for him, “customer service is certainly something that is the most important...kind of the North Star for what we’re doing.”
Customer service is the genesis of most endeavors, but not every brand has the foundation to support it. However, Huron is built around a basic tenet of empathy when approaching their brand and the customer. This has become the sweet spot of Huron’s identity as they operate at the intersection of two pillars:
Relatability + High Performing Products
The winning combination of empathy and performance-based products (with amazing scent profiles to boot!) are actually “two big pieces of feedback that Huron] receives all the time...customers love how the products work and smell.”
Value being of the highest importance when providing to their customer base. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when people actually love, not just the message, but how the product performs. A winning combination indeed.
Return On Value Over One-Time Sales
Following a typical Black Friday boom, so many brands are paying attention to their metrics to check for the ever important marker of success, growth. Matt tells us that the growth rate is obviously being able to ring the cash register, but it is more nuanced than that.
He goes on to say that following Black Friday 2022, Huron “had three of their biggest sales days ever…so that was really, really exciting.”
But those sales aren’t the only marker of success, especially when continuing to create value for their existing customer base. Matt explains the Huron strategy as they “leaned into our existing base of repeat customers versus…knowing that it was extremely crowded over the past 10 days.”
This meant that value became king “rather than a race to the bottom on the promo side and trying to win on price.” Huron set out to obviously keep growth in mind, but never willing to compromise on the importance of maintaining relationships with supportive customers. Those that return will continue to add value over the shock and awe of an enticing promo for a one-time buyer.
And it is in this tactic that we see how metrics matter, but not only for one-off purchasing. Especially given higher prices and a potentially cash-strapped customer base, support must certainly be reciprocated in these times. Something Huron has emphasized from the start.
How To Get Tactical
For those considering bundling and kitting products going forward, you may want to take it seriously. Huron recently reconfigured parts of their site so that they would have a much broader and more comprehensive upsell opportunity set, whether it be in card or at checkout.
In late July 2022, Huron launched a build-your-own bundle feature, which has been well received and even appreciated. As Matt tells us, this way you can choose what you want without being limited to what you don’t.
As he so aptly calls it, it’s really a “choose your own destiny in terms of building the pack or the bundle that makes the most sense for you.” Basically, there’s power in personalization. Huron saw the opportunity and jumped at the chance to reach customers in a better way.
And it’s an amazing strategy for other brands to consider implementing in the future. As we develop our understanding of selling to customers online (which is still quite the wild terrain in many respects), brands must modernize their approach.
Something that Huron has been on top of from the start, but that path to modernity always comes with its challenges. Namely, the beast that is website personalization comes to mind for many brands. Everyone wants a highly unique and intuitive experience, but getting there can take time.
This is where we come in.
The Road To Replo
Huron’s road to Replo started as many others do – they tried everything! And as many know, building a personalized site is not for the faint of heart, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome. Matt goes on to say that the most recent building endeavor was in building landing pages natively with Shopify.
The biggest hurdle being “confined to the guardrails within your existing theme. So if this type of block doesn’t exist on your current theme, then it doesn’t exist on the landing page.”
Certainly the frustrating set of pain points to consider. However, at Replo we completely understood the limitations and jumped at the opportunity to help Huron boost their offerings to the next level.
Matt tells us one of things that drew him to Replo:
So one of the things, for me, that was super enticing about Replo was infusing a new look, feel, and aesthetic within brand guidelines. Before that, we had tried, maybe, without naming names, the other two landing page companies in the space. And I think oftentimes those are pitched as no code or low code or low fit.
And the pitch really frames the story. Matt admits he is the furthest thing from a developer, even calling himself tech inept (and hey, we’ve all had to learn, it’s certainly a process!), but it honestly can be a frustrating process for any company to figure out. Many spend so much time figuring out what they want, but execution sometimes takes a couple of tries.
Something Matt describes as this “kind of push and pull between finding the right aesthetic and then finding the option or answer that required the least amount of lift to get to where we felt excited and around the output that would fit within brand guidelines.”
With Replo they found an “incredible” solution. Matt calls out being able to come across the “block feature and the template feature to be incredible to just get something up and running relatively quickly versus the alternative, which was just weeks and weeks, which was obviously far from ideal.”
And who wants to wait that long anyway when you can seize the moment and create something that emulates the high value and work a brand put into getting it off the ground.
If Huron’s the creator, Replo’s the team that shines the light on what’s been created. Isn’t that the common goal in this line of work anyway?
Weaving An eCommerce Story (hint: it’s not all about transactions)
When we moved on to the ever dreaded question of the day-to-day focus for a brand, Matt quipped back that “it’s a can of worms” (isn’t that the truth!). But he goes on to mention that value and the core elements of the brand are crucial, but he says something else to note.
He mentions messaging and empathy.
For Huron in particular it was important to not have every beat have a buy button. By this he means that there is still always an element of storytelling to the process. This even applies to creating a landing page. Not everything is 100% transactional, especially when you’re checking off the important ingredients to a successful brand.
And as most brands know, guidelines become a flexible, yet firm metric as time goes on. There is a flexibility to how elements are implemented on the page, but a firmness to what should be felt or received in the end. Overall, it’s a feeling, which is perhaps the third ‘f’ to this brand guideline discussion.
A feeling indeed that Matt explains is largely governed by our current attention span (we can all attest that it is shor...see, couldn’t even finish that thought).
He says “I think for us with landing pages in general, people’s attention spans are so short these days that there is a little bit of a danger of pushing the whole page, right?”
For which we are in full agreement as he goes on to note:
Expecting or assuming that the consumer is going to make his/her way to a buying moment, you really have to present a compelling offer in a free flowing page that can get your messaging and brand story across quickly, all while creating an offering, a product, a package, a bundle etc. that is at compelling price points.
Next, we moved on to the ever-important question: how do people find Huron? To which Matt tells us that it’s a mix of paid and organic search. They’ve relied on traditional paid channels (paid search, paid social) for quite some time and also sell on Amazon, which provides a type of cross-pollination between the two channels.
This is quite an interesting combination to consider for brands in a similar spot. Perhaps a potential pathway to consider when diversifying approaches. But this hasn’t always been the case as he mentions that “for the longest time, Huron thought that wasn’t the case. But now we kind of know, anecdotally, through post purchase surveys, it is indeed the case, which is kind of interesting.”
More than interesting if you ask us! Perhaps proof in point that reach is now a matter of diversifying rather than endlessly refining. In the past, a brand may have stayed in one lane, but now, the options create more of a super highway to traverse. Something that is new but also based in a simpler, more organic approach at the same time.
Social media still serves as a deeply motivating opportunity for brand’s to build an organic presence as things change. Brands must stay top of mind on those organic channels but also in the more “built and the infrastructural pieces and in round traditional page channels.”
With all this talk of search we are brought back to the main point of reaching customers. The bottom line, as Matt so rightly explains, is a matter of diversification. This means there is no one-size-fits all approach for a brand. Nowadays, brands must stay hungry and constantly evolve to meet customer needs, while also honing in on brand identity.
It’s always a work in progress, but certainly work worth doing.
It’s All A Matter Of Inspiration
Who inspires who? It’s a constant chicken or the egg debate. And one that can’t be answered too easily. So, many brands inform one another, even if they are in different spaces. Perhaps akin to art, the work of brands does foster creativity and inspiration in even the simplest of ways.
When asked about site inspiration, Matt tells us that what Liquid Death is doing is incredible despite a dense competitive set as they really stand up from the masses. They have “just completely flipped the playbook around on water, which is pretty wild.”
Another example he mentions is Athletic Greens, which is a category that relies on the purchase and changing consumer behavior. He likes the way “they presented their product and created this ‘if you buy this, you get all of these things for free’ you get sampling, you get a water bottle, you get all these branded touch points, which make you feel silly for not purchasing the full bundle.” Something that certainly seems to generate value and sweeten the pot for consumers.
Matt goes on to align the values of what makes a company like Athletic Greens work by saying:
In terms of maintaining brand status and thinking about how to move a high perceived value item at scale with repeat purchase behavior, I think for me, in particular, that’s something that I’ve looked at to say, ‘wow,’ that’s pretty cool what they’re doing. So we’re going, ‘are they going under the hood from a landing page perspective?’ ‘what does their page structure look like?’ ‘what ads are they running?’ We spend a lot of time looking at Facebook ads manager just understanding what works for pros. What works for a lot of these bigger brands, trying to understand what’s at the core of the value.
This interesting give and take of seeing what works for another brand can fuel others to pick and choose tactics that could work for their own brand. Case in point, Huron keeps a pulse on brands, even of varying industries, to see what people are looking for. They look at what’s working and what’s new to get consumer’s coming back for more.
Perhaps it’s important to note that inspiration finds a way, no matter the industry. As Huron has successfully shown, a brand is a matter of meaning and movement. Work to create meaning for your base, but keep another eye on the pulse of buying habits and the world at large.
Replo’s Honest Takeaway For Brands
In closing with this great brand example, Matt showed us that at the heart of a brand, is not only a willingness to stick to those created brand guidelines, but to also create pages that make sense to the customer. As a partner, Huron exemplifies what it means to be a modern brand in a changing landscape.
Brands must pivot on a daily basis but still maintain standards and enhance offerings at the same time. No simple feat, but this is where Replo comes in! Our approach to building highly efficient and personalized Shopify sites is a matter of communication. We’re always looking to see the vision and how we can get your site to the finish line.
And while the finish line may constantly move, we want to move with your brand to continue highlighting your products and services. With things constantly changing, we’ve also broken down some top takeaways to consider, thanks to Huron’s example:
- Remember The OGs - Seriously, remember who supports you routinely and know that support is a two way street. Always keep returning customers in the back of your mind when trying to push for new customers. Break them into categories and brainstorm offerings that work for all types of customers.
- Bundle Better - Consider bundling and kitting products to get the personalization factor out there. You don’t have to go crazy, just give people simple options. Not endless variety, but the ability to pick and choose will set you apart from the competition. Afterall, it’s all about creating value, so create a site and offer features that create that value alongside the actual product value.
- Flexible, Firm, Feeling - While the first two sound contradictory, these potential 3 f’s to brand guidelines matter. Think about how you want your customer to experience your brand and how you can get there. Be flexible in your approach but firm in what you are conveying. In the end, you are telling a story and most decisions come down to a gut feeling. Be the brand that sells the product, but have some heart in why you’re selling it too. There’s always a ‘why’ to buying and perhaps deep down we’re all telling stories. Craft one that means something.