Proving there's a market for a solid shampoo bar for men - WIP

Show, don't tell.

I've written before about how I believe that's the best way of convincing a well established, profitable industry to fundamentally rethink how they make and sell one of their core products; shampoo.

Show them there's a better way to do it.

Specifically in the case of Tidy and our solid shampoo for men, I believe there are three things we need to show the incumbent shampoo makers:

 

In this post I'll dive deeper into progress made in the "proving the market" task.

 

Proving the market, the hardest part of any new product's life

90% of startups fail. I know, I've worked with or for 14 of them over the last ~17 years. Most didn't survive.

There are many reasons why startups fail, the main one founders report is "running out of money". The second most cited reason is "not finding product market fit". Which, put more simply, means: "no one bought our product" (or "not enough people bought our product").

Personally I think founders who run out of money most often do so because of the product market fit problem...

If no one buys your product, you have no revenue to invest in growing your business. If you run out of money before getting enough revenue to keep the business going, it's because either you waited too long to start selling, or not enough people want to buy what you are selling.

Anyway, back to Tidy.

To try and lower the risk of Tidy solid shampoo for men running into the "no one wants to buy it problem" before launching the brand I tested a number of assumptions about the market.

First, I looked at the UK market for men's shampoo and tried to gauge how big it was / is. If a product's target market is too small (especially for physical products like shampoo) it may not be possible to sell in enough volume to make it worth pursuing.

I learnt it's big enough: the UK men's shampoo market is worth an estimated £144,000,000 annually.

Then I tried to understand the behaviour of men who were in the market for shampoo. How often they use shampoo. Where they buy it from. How often they buy it. Why they buy the brand they do. Etc.

That taught me that:

  • 72% of men use shampoo daily or weekly
  • 85% have never tried a solid shampoo
  • 90% buy shampoo based on the quality and effectiveness
  • 91% would like to reduce their use of single plastics.

I also learnt that the most popular shampoo product with men in the UK was a well known brand who makes a range specifically labelled as "for men". Most popular and head and shoulders above the competition 😉.

Then I tested demand for a solid shampoo by creating a fake shampoo brand and advertising it on Facebook, experimenting with different adverts, calls to action, landing pages and product descriptions.

This taught me:

  • between 25% and 42% of folks seeing an advert for men's solid shampoo would click or tap to learn more
  • only 5% were interested in a subscription for men's solid shampoo (which is why Tidy doesn't currently offer one)
  • a more "premium" brand had the best engagement rate overall
  • people would (in theory) pay £9.95 per bar.

 

The results of the tests listed above showed selling a solid shampoo for men could be a viable business.

What they didn't do was prove that it would be viable.

To do that, and to start on the path to proving it to the incumbents, I needed to actually launch Tidy.

Which I did in 2020.

Since launch Tidy has proven that people will buy a solid shampoo for men. But I'm a long way off proving it will sell in enough volume to interest the big players in the industry.

Every journey starts with a single step though, and slowly but surely our steps are adding up...

To date Tidy has a small but loyal number of repeat customers who come back on a regular basis to buy our shampoo bars directly from our website.

Those special folks are members of the Tidy First 100 club. I strongly believe if you can find one loyal customer, you can find 100. And once you reach 100, you can find 1,000.

1,000 loyal customers would be the minimum needed to start proving there's a market for the product...

I've also been exploring selling Tidy shampoo bars via wholesale, selling bars in bulk to stores in the local area who cater for the more eco-minded of customers.

That's been a mixed bag in terms of success. One local store in Bath has placed repeat orders for our shampoo and reports interest from their customers - especially when the store owner tells them the story behind Tidy and what we're trying to do. But they are a small shop and don't order huge quantities at a time.

The other stores selling Tidy bars have had less interest. They do sell, but in a sea of products in store and without a sales person to explain the product they don't do as well.

So, to date proving there's a market specifically for Tidy's men's shampoo remains somewhat elusive. It's a work in progress...

But since I launched the brand, several other men's solid shampoos have hit the market like the Eco warrior Men's edit shampoo bar, Jim's Bricks and Bare Bar Shampoo Bars. And that's a good thing. In the past I've written about how you don't need to buy a Tidy shampoo bar to support the cause. That still holds true.

If brands like Tidy and those listed above can capture enough of the men's shampoo market collectively, we can all prove to the incumbents that it's a market worth paying attention to and that it may be worth their while changing their offering in said market.

Tidy is not in the game of selling the most shampoo bars to the most men. Tidy is in the game of proving there's an alternative way that shampoo can be sold, so more manufacturers offer more eco-friendly shampoo products.

Men in the UK throw out an estimated 65,000,000 shampoo bottles per year. I'd like that number to be 0.

Wouldn't that be Tidy? However we get there!

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