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Divya Gugnani was motivated to launch Wander Beauty when she realized there were no beauty brands speaking directly to her — a woman who loves beauty and maintains a fast-paced lifestyle.
“It was [a move] to own the beauty routine of the woman who’s in motion,” said Gugnani, of getting the brand off the ground in 2015 with co-founder Lindsay Ellingson. “We really thought about this woman. Then we surveyed 100 women and asked, ‘What are your pain points?’ We heard ‘too many products,’ ‘too little time,’ and ‘I don’t know how to use [products],’ so we solved all of those problems in creating our brand. We created a brand that is fewer, better beauty essentials.”
Now, three years into the business, Gugnani and her team are taking a strategic approach to scaling the company by implementing technology like chatbots and text communications, and pairing that with a strategic distribution that brings them directly to their customer, wherever she is.
On this week’s episode of The Glossy Beauty Podcast, Glossy’s beauty editor, Priya Rao, sits down with Wander Beauty’s Divya Gugnani to discuss how Wander Beauty is learning about its core customer, how it’s using that information to further connect with her and what’s on the horizon for the brand. Edited highlights are below.
An intentional wholesale strategy
“It’s really interesting how we chose our distribution. Our customer is finding us in different places because we are choosing to reach different clients that we think are pockets of success for our brand. Since we launched, our primary focus has always been owning the direct relationship with the consumer, and getting all of her feedback to inform our product development life cycle and process. Because we have a direct connection with her, we can hear what she wants us to make next. We launched on our own website for that very reason. Then, obviously, there’s the beauty junkie at Sephora. We want to tap into that community of the high-frequency purchase and play into the discovery [element] of being in Sephora. We also care about the high-income customer who’s buying very luxury-branded goods on Net-a-Porter. And we care about the person who is a fashion enthusiast and a casual beauty customer, who shops on Revolve. We’re using each channel to reach a specific target group that we think complements our base and speaks to our customer, who is a woman in motion.”
Letting the client inform decisions
“So many DTC brands say, ‘OK, I’m going to spend millions of dollars on customer acquisition. I’m going to build my brand and — oh, by the way, it’s getting really expensive online, so let me just go launch wholesale as an afterthought.’ That was never the model for us. The model was: The customer is queen. Our client is queen from day one. Let’s service her directly, but let’s understand her behavior. She is omnichannel. She is shopping other places. All of our data and research shows us that, not only is she buying us on WanderBeauty.com, primarily on mobile, but she’s also going into Sephora and she’s shopping on Net-a-Porter. We literally ask our clients, ‘Where else do you shop?’ and that’s where we launch. We are entirely informed by our client and what she does, and we align our customer acquisition strategy with her.”
Being smart about digital communications
“I’ve invested in a lot of companies, and a lot of them come to me and say, ‘You’re doing text message? Is that the new email?’ No, that’s 100 percent wrong. It is not a spam channel. A text message is a very personal communication with their client. You have their phone number — they don’t give that to everybody, so you better be cool about it and use it wisely. The way I look at it is: Every communication that we focus on is customer-first, which means three things: real-time, personal and mobile. That’s why text is the backbone of what we’re doing as a brand. We use text messages to understand how she wants to communicate. We actually test a bunch of different formats with different client groups to understand if she wants to be hearing about a new launch before anyone else or if she wants coupon codes. We have very high opt-in rates, transactions and conversion rates, and that is 100 percent driven by being dedicated and intelligent about the communication.”