Case Study: Billie

How did Billie harness the power of Millennials and Gen Zs to become a global name and garner the attention of consumer products giant Procter & Gamble? We examine the buzzy razor start-up’s multifaceted marketing strategy and path to international success as a completely E-Commerce, direct to consumer brand.

As more businesses move their focus to direct-to-consumer markets, and in particular to using online channels to market and sell their products in the continuing wake of Coronavirus, the digital world is becoming more and more saturated with brands new and old fighting for the attention of shoppers. While E-Commerce platforms like Shopify have made it easier than ever to sell directly to customers online, attracting awareness and attention for a brand or product has become even more challenging. To do so requires not only creativity but a savvy digital marketing strategy that resonates with the target audience and is determined to stand out in a sea of sponsored adverts.

Founded in 2017 by Georgina Gooley and Jason Bravman, female-focused, direct-to-consumer razor company, Billie, which counts investors from Goldman Sachs to Serena Williams (and was recently acquired by Procter & Gamble), has experienced extreme growth in just 2 and a half years. We look at the brand's highly successful approach to digital marketing to identify key learnings for all E-Commerce businesses going forward.

© Billie
  1. An authentic message that resonates with the values and interests of the target audience

The male-dominated shaving market had a very clear marketing point of view - hair on women was unacceptable, and the removal of it made you a ‘Venus’ goddess. From the outset, Billie set out to cater to women that would share their strong opposition to the pink tax of razors and the notion that hair on women should be seen as ugly. Gooley herself had been using men’s razors for years out of refusal to pay the extra $8 for a pink women’s razor. Rather than trying to ‘sell’ Billie razors to their target market, Billie’s message and in turn campaigns speaks to the values of young, savvy women.

The first Project Body Hair campaign was released in June 2018 featuring high-contrast colourful photographs, with women proudly displaying their body hair. The campaign quickly went viral, widely embraced by women around the world, with over 22 million video views and press coverage across 23 countries. Billie has repeatedly used similar types of campaigns to speak to their target market and empower women. Most recently, during the lockdown, the brand released it’s Are We Doing Video? Campaign to speak to the pressure to look a certain way that comes from more frequent video calls. Spending more time on video calls means that we are also spending more time looking at ourselves on camera and subsequently apologising for our appearances. With the expansion of their product line into clean beauty, Billie is looking to address the pressure on women, in particular, to look a certain way, much like they have done with normalising body hair.

  1. Digital content that is designed for mobile-first

Being a direct-to-consumer, subscription based online brand, also lead naturally to a focus on online campaigns. While this isn’t a groundbreaking, the considered approach to optimising content for mobile viewing first (rather than desktop, a billboard, a physical show, TV etc.) is. All of Billie’s content is strategically made to entice people to view it, like it, share it, and comment on it while they are scrolling through their mobile feeds.

Regardless of whether the content is destined to be used for a digital campaign or not, it is optimised for mobile-first so that everything can be easily and quickly consumable for people scrolling their feeds. From the outset, content is designed to be snack sized with all the specifications necessary to ensure the best display on mobile - rather than needing to retrospectively adjust or condense content to use on mobile. The slightly longer-form campaign videos highlighted above are fast-loading, high resolution and convey the brand message in the first 5 seconds demonstrating Billie’s acute knowledge that people are less likely to watch a full video on mobile, and if they are - you need to convince them quickly.

© Billie
  1. Use all the data you can get to inform your decisions on product, price, marketing campaigns, customer service, sales platforms - everything

Gooley’s message on this is clear - use the data you can get from your customers to make informed decisions. From the outset, Billie conducted numerous surveys, focus groups and mined the internet to gain insight into women's shaving behaviour and pain points with existing products on the market. This use of data has set the tone for the way the brand expands its product offering and looks at its marketing campaigns.

As a subscription based business, Billie’s marketing strategy is focused on developing long-term relationships with it’s customers and extending their lifetime value with the brand - not just generating a quick influx of sales. This translates into a range of marketing content created for different purposes, informed by and assessed against varied but related data.

Not only is Billie guided by the standard metrics of Cost per Conversion or Return on Investment in assessing the success of it’s campaigns, it also closely monitors both paid and organic engagement rates, and continues to monitor and engage with all comments on its content. Using this data, Billie has not only been able to hone in on and recreate marketing content that resonates the best with their target audience, the company has also used this data to refine it’s subscription model and when looking to develop new product lines. For example, Billie now offers one, two or three month repeat razor subscriptions after harnessing the feedback that a lot of women don’t shave everyday and were deterred by having to sign up for a monthly service.

Rather than just listening to your customers, you need to understand their motivations and behaviours and use that to guide your marketing decisions, rather than solely looking at your margins and revenue - both the quantitative and qualitative data available from digital channels provides a way to do just that.

© Billie

While digital marketing and E-Commerce are not new for many fashion and consumer good brands, the current global situation has increasingly driven digital platforms to become the centre point for brands to engage with their audiences. As the time spent on digital devices has rapidly increased with people practicing social distancing or being in lockdown, digital platforms have become more crowded than ever and advertising channels far more competitive. Brands need to have an authentic point of view and a considered digital-first marketing strategy tailored to this new environment in order to stand out where customers are otherwise bombarded with options.

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