Challengers in Action
🤔 How Quip made the toothbrush cool
Quip is a US-based challenger in the $435B oral healthcare market. They’re best known for their toothbrush subscription, but raised a $100M Series B round last year to take on the the broader personal and professional market.
They’re more of a scale-up than a start-up at this point and are transitioning from the early to late-stage challenger playbook. Digital drove a lot of their acquisitions and growth in the early years, but now they’ve invested heavily in above-the-line ads, including TV and radio. They’ve also expanded from DTC only to DTC and retail, which brings a whole new set of marketing challenges.
But one thing in particular is interesting, relatively unique, and consistent throughout the different stages of growth: they’ve focused on making buying a toothbrush cool. Yes, there’s a certain light-hearted, humous tone to the brand (evidenced in the name itself, the description of their market as “everyone with a mouth”, and their recent TV campaign), but the underlying strategy for the brand has been to make Quip the “Nike of oral care”.
Check out this article from Quip’s VP of Growth on how he and the team have managed to build a certain cool-factor into a traditionally un-cool category and product. And check out this case study from Similar Web on how Quip is disrupting their category.
👟 How Golden Goose defended their point of difference
How much would you pay for a pair of sneakers that looked like you found them in a dumpster? How about $500? No? Well, Golden Goose has something to say about that.
The 20-year old Italian shoe company was valued at over $1B in its recent private equity acquisition and was more profitable than Chanel last year. Its main product line is a series of seriously scuffed up sneakers, some that even have tape on them (on purpose).
The story of how the company managed to find this niche in the market is fascinating. A lot of it has to do with fashion trends and industry insider tactics that we can’t claim to know too much about. But a lot of it has to do with just good, old fashioned brand differentiation. They created and held on to a clear point of distinction in the market, even when much of the industry was against them.
But they also executed the classic challenger strategy of building community around their brand. The Golden Goose Gang is a Facebook Group with over 45k members where brand enthusiasts buy, sell, and trade the product and connect over their love of the brand.
🍋 How Oxo focused on product and design to challenge their category
There might be no company that proves out the statement of the “best marketing is a great product” quite like Oxo does. There’s nothing out there about their marketing strategy and they don’t have a CMO. And come to think of it, have you ever actually seen an ad for Oxo? We can’t think of one. And yet, they’re an incredibly loved and successful challenger brand that has disrupted the kitchenware industry. Yes, they do some marketing, but there’s nothing out there that’s all that exciting. It really just seems like they’ve focused on developing great products with distinctive high-end design and getting them into the hands of customers through retail partnerships. Oh and innovating constantly. Marketing is key to long-term sustainable growth, but only if the product you have to sell is one that people actually want.
Read this great article from Slate on how Oxo “conquered the American kitchen”.