Have you ever wondered what life is like for the man who “spends his life living in the pants of other men”?
No?! Well, we (the marketing pandas) have ... and that's what led to us getting in touch with Jonathan Durden, co-founder of Below the Belt Grooming. If you haven't heard of the brand yet, let us be the first to introduce you to its products: Fresh and Dry Balls, Waterless Shower Groin Cleanser and Sports Lubricant.
“All of the male grooming products out there – they’re simply women’s products, rebranded with a masculine scent”, Jonathan told us as he arrived at Cranberry Towers. “Nothing out there has been created specifically for men”, and there’s nothing that addresses the unique hygiene requirements of the male anatomy.
And that, my friends, is how our panda Q&A session began …
Marketing Pandas (MP): We’re curious to know, just how important ecommerce is to your overall strategy?
Jonathan Durden (JD): At this point in time*, it’s the main way that people can purchase our products. However, for us, distribution is key – getting it on shelves in high street stores, for example, is a very big thing for us. This is something that we have focused on; we’ve created a whole new product category and it’s one that many people don’t really understand. Our products address a very real need and it’s one that is experienced by a large part of the world’s population. Civilised men should be able to choose their grooming regime with products that meet all of their needs. There’s nothing ‘medical’ or wrong with wanting to stay fresh after a long day of running around, going to the gym, being stuck on the tube….
Even as we are stocked by the larger retailers on the high street, ecommerce will still be important. Men don’t generally do a big shop for hygiene products like women do. They typically like a 'one thing does all’ approach to their daily regime so making everything as easy as possible for our audience – and available in one place - is imperative.
MP: Your products have generated a lot of print media attention, and your Wimbledon billboard was amazing. How much impact have these offline activities had on your online sales?
JD: In terms of building awareness and confidence in our products and the brand – very important. The Djockitch billboard was a great example of this: we wrote it up on Wednesday, launched it on Thursday, it was in the Guardian on Friday and then that was it - it all went crazy. In terms of driving actual sales – it does contribute, but it’s not the ‘be all’.
MP : Out of everything you’ve learnt from co-founding Below the Belt and launching your products, what’s the biggest and most important tip you can give to others who are targeting the same demographic?
JD: Never underestimate the power of the partner. Women like to control what’s going on in their man’s pants, and as a sign of respect, men should follow through when it comes to their below the belt grooming regime.
Understanding who influences your main audience can help you pinpoint areas that warrant additional research and development time and budget. For example, we ran a focus group with women and would you believe, the very first thing that they did when we gave them a tube of Fresh and Dry Balls, was taste it. That in itself has led to new product variations and an understanding of what women – the biggest influencers – want and expect.
MP: And what about startups in general; if you could share one tip with anyone out there who’s thinking about launching a new product category or a somewhat risqué product (when compared to traditional grooming products), what would it be?
JD: Do your research and sometimes ignore it. In that order. Know what you’re pushing against, but if you think the research is wrong, go with your gut instinct.
Don’t get me wrong – doing this can be disheartening. And it can also be frustrating, being labelled as a niche product when the entire male population could benefit from it. But prepare for rejection and be ready to just push through it. It is fantastic when success happens, which it regularly does.
MP: So, can you tell us … is there more to come from the brand?
JD: This is only the beginning. This isn’t just about addressing a gap in the grooming market; it’s about offering more understanding and support for men overall - from fresh and dry balls to helping divorced men who are struggling to get back on their feet. All too often, there’s too little focus on men’s wellbeing – emotionally as well as physically – and that’s what we’re planning to tackle as we grow from dealing solely with grooming products into a brand that’s taking on other ground-breaking projects.
Big thanks to Jonathan for taking the time to chat with us here at Cranberry Towers. If you’d like to find out more about the Below the Belt Grooming products, head over to the brand’s website, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and take a look at their blog!
*Correct at the time of printing