With Its Latest Product Expansion, Harry's Is Transforming from a Shave Brand to a Personal Care Brand

“This has been the most-requested product ever in the history of Harry’s,” said GM Jaime Crespo.
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Francis Scialabba

· 6 min read

Last year, the FTC stomped on Harry’s ambitions to merge with Edgewell in a $1.37 billion deal. Now, Harry’s is putting in overtime to become a personal care emporium on its own.

Its latest step: Harry’s launched its first line of men’s deodorant and antiperspirants last week.

With several brick and mortar partners under its belt—Target, Walmart, and Kroger among them—Harry’s will take the new line to 15,000+ stores over the coming weeks. Despite those IRL expansions, Harry’s is still hanging on to many of the strategies that won over millions of shoppers online.

Jaime Crespo, GM at Harry’s, joined Retail Brew for a Zoom session to discuss how the company balances its online and offline channels, and how it’s thinking about new development opportunities. You can read our conversation below.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Retail Brew: I’ve heard that the idea for Harry’s newest products was crowdsourced from your current shoppers. How did the team know that this was the sort of customer feedback to turn into a new line?

Jaime Crespo: Well, this has been the most-requested product ever in the history of Harry’s. And that’s what really inspired the development of the product. We had over 1,600 people who actively called our call center [or] they sent us emails.

We also [sent] a survey to our customers in DTC, and we had over 120,000 customers where, when asked on the survey which products do you want to see from Harry’s, they kept saying they want to see a deodorant or an antiperspirant.

That’s the good thing about being a brand that’s a digital native and has such a strong DTC business. We have a very strong, close connection with the customers. So we start talking with the customers and asking them, okay, why do you want a new product in deodorant? What’s wrong with the products that you’re currently using? And that’s how we develop our proposition.

RB: Can you explain what those differentiators are, exactly? It seems like there’s a lot of options already on the market.

JC: There’s a lot of options, but there’s a lot of false choice. People are very confused by the category, and it’s not very clear what is a deodorant versus an antiperspirant. That’s the first insight that we bring.

The way that we describe our products is with three different levels. One is odor control, the other is odor and sweat control, and the third is odor and enhanced sweat control. That’s a very easy way to describe the category.

The level system is something that really resonated with consumers a lot. So far, consumers are choosing around 30% of each level, which really tells us how we’ve done a clear segmentation of the market, and how we’ve positioned them each in a way that’s compelling for each one of those segments.

RB: I can see that you’re working from home; I’m working from home too. I’ve read quite a bit about companies having to make so many remote adjustments for launches these days. How did this launch change for remote work?

JC: The process took us, end to end, around two years to develop it and launch it.

What was really helpful for us is what is our product philosophy and our approach to products. In an environment that is remote, it’s more difficult to see the samples and connect to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.

We’re very agile and have a strong team. So this isn’t the first launch we’ve done during Covid. We also launched an anti-dandruff category late last year, and it beat our expectations. We were about 40% over the projections at launch—it really has overperformed. And it just requires for us to be close [and] overcommunicate through Zoom calls. Maybe there’s not much face to face connectivity, but we’re offsetting it with virtual connectivity.

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RB: Harry’s is also getting ready to share this collection with shoppers at your retail partners. When a shopper walks into Walmart or Target, where will they find Harry’s products shelved? And how did you land on your approach here?

JC: When it comes to the shave category, there are a lot of brands that make more sense to be together and those that do not. On an evergreen basis, each [product] will be in its own category. So for example, our AP-Deo would be shelved within the AP-Deo category, and our body wash category within the body category.

That’s how it works today with body wash and we’re still growing ahead of the market. So it hasn’t prevented us and it’s how it’s naturally placed. However, we do end caps or holiday packs where we bring those products together, and they really resonate with our customers a lot. When we place them together people buy a few of them. There’s a lot of cross sell, but we’re not forcing them on the shelf.

RB: What does this launch mean for Harry’s ambitions beyond shave? You’ve added all sorts of new products over the past several years.

JC: In my mind, one of the superpowers we have as a brand is that we’ve been able to successfully innovate beyond the core of the business without forgetting about the core of the business. That’s the key success. On our core of the business, which is shave, we just launched in September sharper blades, keeping the same price—so we’re bringing better value to the consumers [...], but we didn’t charge any more to the consumers, which isn’t something you traditionally see in CPG.

At the same time, what’s been fascinating is that CPG brands are like a monoproduct. They stay in one product category and they haven’t been able to expand. We actually had a lot of success expanding. We launched in mid-2018 our body wash, for example. So we’ve been growing the market while at the same time gaining market share on categories that don’t have as clear of a connection with shave. And that’s where it has unlocked our vision of becoming a men’s personal care brand that goes beyond shave into other body categories that are important.

RB: Looking ahead, how does Harry’s think about the balance of releasing new products versus improving its existing assortment? What’s influencing your understanding of that balance?

JC: In a fast growth brand that is scaling and gaining share as a challenger brand, I feel like for me it’s not a compromise between one and the other. We always start with the core of the business as shave. And in shave, we’re the no.2 brand in every place that we operate, every channel where we operate. We want to continue innovating there and we want to continue growing, and there’s a lot of opportunity to drive awareness and consideration of consumers.

At the same time, we have other categories that we have in the warm-up of launching, starting with AP-Deo.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.