One of the biggest challenges of managing a brand is speaking to one target audience without ostracizing another.
A common solution is to branch out from the parent company with a sister brand that focuses on one segment of your customer base.
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn how an established company recognized a new type of customer buying their products and decided to create a completely separate brand to serve their emerging customer base: teenagers.
Mary-Rose Sutton is the Brand Manager of Knixteen, an offshoot of Knixwear, one of the winners of our Build a Bigger Business competition, and the creator of the ‘Oh-No’ Proof Underwear because they believe your period shouldn’t stop you from doing awesome stuff.
For teenagers, the buying cycle is longer. They don’t have access to a credit card as easily and they don’t have disposable income.
Tune in to learn
- When you should spin off and launch a separate brand
- How to use your mission statement on a day-to-day basis
- How to advertise when selling to teenagers
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
- Store: Knixteen
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: Leo Burnett Agency, Google Analytics, Sprout Social, Social Blade, Klaviyo (Shopify app), Yotpo (Shopify app), Lucky Orage, Shopify Scripts, Shopify Reports
Felix: Today I’m joined by Mary-Rose Sutton from Knixteen. Knixteen created the Oh-No Proof Underwear because they believe your period shouldn’t stop you from doing awesome stuff. And the brand was started in 2017 and based out of Toronto. Welcome Mary-Rose.
Mary-Rose: Hi Felix, thanks for having me on the podcast.
Felix: So we were talking a little bit off air about the sister company that is associated with Knixteen. Can you go into the history of that and how it’s related to the Knixteen brand?
Mary-Rose: So yeah, definitely. Basically Knixteen came from Knixwear, which we kind of refer to as our big sister company. And it was started 5 years ago by Joanna Griffiths. So, she came up with the idea for leak proof underwear when she was having a conversation with her mom. And her mom told her that many women, after they have children, experience light bladder leaks. And she kind of saw this as an opportunity to create a product that could help address this issue, so that women could feel more confident and secure, after they have children. Not to deal with like any embarrassment, [inaudible 00:01:49] like have having a bladder leak.
So she came up with this product and launched Knixwear. And there’s like a really big story behind Knixwear, and how they became so successful over the last 5 years. But basically, throughout that time they developed this nice like core audience of women. A lot of them were moms. And they would say 2 things her. They’d be like, I love the leak proof underwear, and I wish it existed when I was a teenager.
And the other thing that they said is like, I have a teenage daughter, and I’m actually buying this product for my teenage daughter in your smallest size, because she just got her period, and she’s feeling super anxious and insecure about it. And she’s worried about period leaks, which is like a very big thing for teenagers growing up. And is something that you read about in magazines and books, when you’re around the age that you’re getting your period. And something that can like give people a lot of anxiety, and they almost become like terrified about it. And they were like, this product’s amazing for my teenager. She really loves it. I wish you guys made it in smaller sizes, because girls are starting their periods sometimes like 9 years old.
So that’s while Knixwear was going, and it was becoming more successful year over year. We always like, we would love to create this product for teens eventually. So in June, we finally launched the product and the new brand, which is Knixteen.
Felix: Got it. So Knixwear was the first company that created the technology for this kind of underwear, and then was serving a different market than what it’s currently serving in the Knixteen brand, which is more focused on Teenagers. So Knixwear was started. The technology existed. The product existed already. The people were using it, but people were buying it for their daughters, or people that were younger. And then you guys decided that this made sense to target that audience as well, that the younger audience, because they were getting a lot of use, a lot value out of the product as well. So you decided to spin, basically create a new brand and sell that. Essentially they’re the same technology to a different audience.
Mary-Rose: Yeah, exactly. Like people were already buying it and using it. And we just thought like, oh like, you know they’re already buying it for their teenagers, so how many other people out there don’t know about it yet, that we could potentially introduce them to this amazing product to. So it was a really easy decision to launch the second brand, because we sort of had some validation from our existing customers already.
Felix: Now why not launch it as a product line, or a product underneath Knixwear directly, rather than having a new brand, a whole new brand called Knixteen? What was the decision behind that?
Mary-Rose: So, that’s a good question. And one that we like really debated a lot before we actually launched the line. And you know we went back and forth on the 2 ideas, but ultimately we actually like spoke to a lot of teenagers themselves. And we wanted this to be a product that they really really wanted to buy for themselves. We didn’t just want their moms to go and buy it for them, we wanted them to feel excited about this, and be like, this is a really big innovation. This is something that’s gonna help me. And it’s a lot easier to communicate with teenagers when you’re speaking their language, and you’re speaking directly to them.
Like they think very differently than their parents. Cause they’re from a completely different generation. Different things appeal to them, and we wanted that kind of message, voice and language to be all over our website and our brand. So that this wasn’t just gonna be something their mom’s gonna give them, and they might not think it’s cool. And they might not understand it, or why they should use it. We want them to come to that conclusion themselves, and feel empowered to buy for themselves.
Felix: Got it. So a lot of, I think, companies will, won’t go to this extent and they might just maybe change up the product page, or create a specific landing page on that single brand and market it, and create messaging, targeting different demographic. But you guys have decided that it’s that important that they want, that you’ve found that the messaging and the marketing, and the appeal, and the look of the entire brand is so different between the moms versus the daughters, that it made sense to create a separate entity, and market it separately.
So what was the process behind creating this separate brand? Once you, as a team sat down and decided that the best way forward is to create a new brand. What’s involved in something like that?
Mary-Rose: So it’s like, it is quite a long process. Especially if you want it to be a very strong brand. And one that can ultimately like last a long time. So we didn’t just launch Knixteen to just launch this new product line, and create the same product, but in teen sizes. Like we have pretty big ambitions for where we want this brand to go. We want it to have longevity, and really stand on its own.
So we put a lot of time, and thought into like what our brand’s message was, and how we describe the product to our audience. And who our audience is. Like teenagers are, there’s so much difference between types of teenagers, and which kinds of teenagers we think are gonna be our first customers. So there was a lot of thought going into like the brand message, that we did internally.
And then when it came to executing the creative, we worked with an agency called Leo Burnett. We have like a personal connection to them through the founder. And we’d like, known them for a long time. And they’ve done a lot of cool work for different companies that are advertising to young people, like teenagers and Gen Z. So it was a really an easy choice to work with them. And we were like super impressed and happy with the results. So they worked on the, kind of like the visual brand identity. And then some of our early advertisements that we launched with.
Felix: Got it, so when you do launch a separate brand, I’m assuming it’s not as easy as repeating the exercises that you went through the first time with the first brand. What surprised you along the way that you maybe thought was going to be easier than it turned out to be, when launching a separate brand? In case there are any other listeners out there that are thinking about doing this, where they kind of have 2 diverse groups of demographics, and they want to serve both of them. What surprises did you guys run into along the way?
Mary-Rose: Well I think I was surprised by like, I think how like easy it was in some ways. Because when you launch a first brand from nothing, like Knixwear emerged from nothing, so you have to really invent something completely new, and think about how you’re gonna stand out. And when you start off, like I was working for Knixwear previously more in the early days of the company, so I remember. Like you don’t even know what you need to have a brand. You don’t know like, what like, you think you need a logo and like maybe some color, but you don’t even realize that actually need packaging. You need these emails to match. You need a social media strategy. And you need to know which kinds of platforms you’re gonna post on.
So having already done a lot of the work, like it was quite easy to launch a second brand, in terms of like, we learned some mistakes already. We knew what we had to do. Like we almost had [inaudible 00:08:53]. Like what are we gonna do on social media? What’s our website gonna look like? What’s our email communication gonna look like? And you can just go through and slowly check off those boxes.
The hardest part is always just coming up with that like initial brand message and brand identity of like … it’s kind of like the heart of your brand. It’s not just the colors and like the way it looks. But it’s actually like, why you use this and what you stand for. And that’s all really really hard cause it’s personal. And in that, that takes the longest time, but once you have that figured out, and you know why your business exists, the rest of the stuff it’s just, it’s like kind of fun almost. Picking out how everything’s gonna look is actually the fun part. If you’re a creative person, it can really be fun.
Felix: Got it. So it actually was easier than launching the first time because you could take the lessons that you learned from the first brand and apply it towards the new one. Now you mentioned brand messaging and brand identity as the hardest pieces, and I think that’s hard when you start, a new brand versus trying to build on a older one, or an existing one.
Can you give any tips on that? What is the approach that you as a team took to create the messaging and the identity behind the Knixteen brand?
Mary-Rose: Yeah, so we have to kind of find a balance. So we knew that we definitely wanted teenagers to think this is cool. So we like spent a lot of time thinking about that, but at the same time we knew that this has to like appeal to parents, because a lot of times, parents are the one who are actually, you know, taking out the credit card and going to buy the product for their teenager who wants it. And we have all our Knixwear customers. So we had to find this like interesting space, which is like somewhere between teenagers and parents. And once we knew those were our 2 like demographics, we could take elements of the 2 that, elements of the teenager that wouldn’t turn off the parent, and elements that would appeal to the parent that doesn’t turn off the teenager.
And we kind of had that like space carved out. So once we knew that that’s the space it could work in, it really helped. So I would say, like the best advice ever would be like, for me, is figure out who your target demographic is. Like, how old are they, what cities do they live in, what music do they listen to, where do they go shopping, who are their idols? Like we went through celebrities, and we’re like, this is the types of celebrities who they would be inspired by. These are the types of books they would read. Like the more work you can do into like figuring out that identity, the easier the rest will be. Because it really allows you like to create guidelines for you to stay within.
Felix: Yeah I like this approach of doing the research to see what other things they’re interested in. So once you do know, what celebrities they follow, what books they read, what movies or TV shows that they’re watching, how do you actually boil this down into, like some kind of, I guess document or boil this down into something that’s tangible so that you can work off of?
Mary-Rose: So once we have that, I guess we kind of moved onto like our mission statement. Like who we are and what we do. And we basically said like we believe that we should kick ass, uninterrupted by blood, sweat and tears. Which basically means that we really believe that everyone should be living their best life and that thing that happens to you, like you’re period, you have an emotional day or you like, you know you have a busy lifestyle that involves like, you know, working out, and then going to work and then like taking care of our families. So this even applies to Knixwear, like those things shouldn’t stand in your way. And that’s always what Knixwear’s been about, and same thing with Knixteen. Like basically your period shouldn’t stand in your way of doing whatever you want.
And from there we came up with the identity of the person and that like the passionate badass. That’s something that we call our customers, both our teen customers and our like older customers, or our moms. So they’re people who are really passionate about something in their life. They care deeply about what they do, and they like are not afraid to vocalize it.
So our brand is not somebody who’s shy. Or like, isn’t going to tell you exactly what they think all the time. So, once we figure that kind of person out, it was easy to like speak from their voice. And create a brand that spoke to them.
Felix: Got it. So once you have your mission statement and you have your demographic figured out and you have in your head, the ideal customer for Knixteen, how does this all get used on a day-to-day basis when you are going through things like creating copy, or creating social media content or creating graphics and designs for the website? How does it all get used on a day-to-day basis, particularly the mission statement you come up with. How often do you use that?
Mary-Rose: The mission statement and the person, they’re basically like the guiding principle to everything that we do. So, I mean I’m not like looking at them all day, every day, but whenever we just approach anything new, like if it’s an advertisement, a photo shoot, we’re launching a new page on our website, any sort of new marketing campaign, like I always do go back and reference the original document we created. Which is like, you know, maybe like a 5 page like PDF that has our mission statement, what the passionate badass is, who she is, what her values are, who she would follow on social media, and what she would be, kind of doing every day.
And I always go back and reference it before I put anything out there, just to make sure that everything’s still aligned. And it kind of like re-centers you and your thoughts, when you’re trying to come up with something new, that you don’t go too far off the map. That your existing customers and people you’ve already engaged are gonna be like, I don’t recognize you. I don’t know who you are. Yeah it’s really something that you use to kind of like center yourself all the time.
Felix: Yeah, so this sounds like something you went through as a company with Knixwear, when you are deciding to stick to your core values, or should you evolve. And in the case of Knixteen, gave birth to essentially Knixteen, where you decided that you want to stick to the core values of Knixwear. Let’s create a brand new identity for this other demographic. Now in your case, now that you’re running Knixteen, and you have these core values, I think in this day in age you have to be flexible. You have to evolve with the changing demographics, and changing market. How do you think about when you should evolve, or when you should change the values or the mission statement even, of your business?
Mary-Rose: What I try to do, is like, basically based on me and my co-workers I feel like we can all kind of sense when we get sick of something. Like we don’t want to overuse anything too much, and at a certain point when, you know we have to produce so much content that’s kind of be like the reality of having a business, an online business, is that you need to be producing new content every day. If you can imagine like things do get stale pretty quickly, so I kind of just feel, if I personally start to feel like I’m kind of sick of us using this color, or you know, using this tone of voice, I want to change it up a little. Or I guess we can push this further. Maybe we’re playing it too safe with our approach to something.
I usually get a second opinion from people in the office. And if they think it’s true, and they’re sick of it, then I know for that I’m right. Because I’m seeing it every single day. May co-workers in the office who are working on Knixwear, they’re seeing it like, a couple times a week they’re thinking about it. So I’m like, okay, so then I’m right. If I’m feeling sick of it and people who aren’t dealing with everyday are, then I feel confident that it’s time to change things up and to push things further.
And also another thing is that, I always look for things that are working really well. Like every week, I kind of look at what’s our best performing content on social media. Which emails are doing the best? What are customers responding the most to? In terms of advertising as well. And I always think like, how can we push this further? So just focusing in on what’s working, and figuring out which element, of say and ad, is working. And then I’m like, okay, let’s think about how we can like pull that winning element out, and even develop it further.
Felix: So, you mentioned that you look at, I’m assuming some kind of data to determine what’s working. What tools are you using to do this kind of analysis?
Mary-Rose: Yeah so, with our, like with everything that we use, usually comes with like an analytical portion to it. So we use like, well first of all I use my Shopify website, then I use like the reports section of the Shopify website to see which products are selling best. And we, even though we don’t have a huge range of products, we do have 2 different styles. So I can always know what customers are looking at the most, and which ones that are purchasing the most.
I use Google Analytics a lot to look at customer activity on our website. And then with social media, we use, Sprout Social. And we use Grum, so we look a lot at what’s performing, what’s getting the most likes, and the highest engagement. I also really really love Social Blade, just to check like daily followers, and how our growth is going on like a day-by-day basis. It has a amazing tool, and it’s great cause you can look at your competitors too.
Yeah so, I mean, it’s all different things we use. We use Crazy Egg for email, and they have great analytics about open rates, click rates, and because it’s [inaudible 00:18:58] into Shopify, you can see the results of all your email campaigns.
And then there’s also like basic social [inaudible 00:19:05] too. Like there’s some things you can’t measure so, even if I’m super busy, I still try and make time to actually go and read comments, on our social media and on our advertisements, and just see like what people are noticing and picking up on. I think just honestly going through and reading comments, you can learn so much from it. And it’s like something everyone should spend at least, you don’t wanna become obsessed with it, but like a portion of your day, like listening to the actual words of your customers who are gonna go and take the time to leave a comment.
Felix: Yeah, I think it’s useful that you mentioned that you focus specifically on what’s working. So if people are commenting positive things about a specific piece of content you posted on Instagram, or they’re viewing a particular product often on the site. You try to make it, or push it further. I think those were your words. What does it mean to you when you say that you wanna push, specifically the content, whether it be on social media or through email marketing. What does it mean to push what you find that is working, to push it further?
Mary-Rose: So I mean, it’s different in each [inaudible 00:20:08] like I guess like one example is with online advertising, so like our advertisements on social media, like Facebook, and like Instagram. And one thing that comes up so often is in a lot of advertisements, for like menstrual products, it’s a big thing that companies always use a blue, or like a clear liquid, like in the place of menstrual blood. And it’s like, it’s received like a ton of criticism online.
So in a lot of our original advertisements, we like made a point not to actually use, like the blue liquid that everyone criticizes all the time. And people were like, oh I’m so happy they’re not using like blue liquid. We use other kind of ways to simulate alike menstruation. And I was thinking, okay people keep commenting on that, saying like that’s great. And I was like, what else can we do. Like maybe let’s actually use red liquid in our advertisements, and see how that does. And then, since we did that, like everyone has commented like, I’m so happy a company is finally showing what periods are actually like. And they’re not using blue liquid. They would say like, oh they think periods are basically Windex. Like people would leave comments like that. So it made me feel like, okay we’re kind of doing something right, and we’re representing the customer in a way they’re appreciating, and they enjoy.
So that was like one good version, I guess, of us pushing things forward into a direction that I felt was already working for us, and just pushing it a little bit further. It might have been like kind of taboo to use red liquid, but based on what customers were saying and what I could see was working, I felt like it was a safe move for us, and something that our customers appreciate, and something that we all thought was the right way to do it. So, yeah.
Felix: Yeah I think two important things you said there. The first thing was that you, it sounded like at least, that you didn’t even just look at the content you’re producing. You’re interested in what other people were complaining or voicing their concerns about on other products, on other platforms. You’re looking elsewhere, outside of what you’re producing to see what people like and don’t like. And then bringing that in house, and then updating your ads to reflect those kind of comments, even though they weren’t part of your, you know content strategy.
And then the second thing that you mentioned was that, you took a look at what worked, and then you try to, I think it makes sense exactly what you’re saying, you try to push it further by trying to figure out what is the angle that people are interested in, what do they particularly like, and try to make that more front and center. In your case, period blood not being blue, and maybe being red. And trying to push that even further.
I think a lot of times when people are thinking about testing ads, or A/B testing, they just try to test so many different things out, rather than try to see how far one particular variable can go. And I think that that’s, what you’re doing with those ads. I think that’s a really important approach that you try to see what’s already working. Then isolate it and see if that particular change, or that particular approach, or that particular messaging to the same problem other people are seeing is what is resonating with your audience.
Mary-Rose: Yeah, definitely. And like, I think also just not being like afraid to try something that might be like a little bit, like riskier. I think some people might feel like I want to protect my business, and I’m a little, like when it comes to A/B testing, people sometimes make like very small changes I noticed. Like really tiny things. And I just don’t think it’s really worth it to do like an A/B test, or a test at all, unless you’re actually gonna make a big change.
Like you don’t have to change everything, but change one thing and change it in a big way. Because little tiny changes on tests, it takes a ton of time to actually produce a video and create it and everything. So when you do it, I would hope that I would do something kind of big with it. Rather than make a small change that would only get a tiny incremental benefit for what will actually be a lot of hard work to like, create a true A/B test.
Felix: Yeah, speak of A/B test, do you have like a formalized process for coming with things to test, and then testing it. Or is it, kind of just like run and gun, where you come up with an idea, you guys put it together real quickly and throw it out there, or see what happens? What’s your process for testing what works, and what doesn’t work?
Mary-Rose: Like again, it’s pretty different on different platforms. I mean with our email marketing, that’s like a really easy way to do A/B test, so in terms of like subject line and images, and content, you can like schedule them into your emails and do an A/B test, where you only send like certain emails to a portion of your audience. Then the winner will be sent to the majority of your list.
But for other things, we just keep a really close eye on like our website analytics. So every single day we are tracking like visitors, and conversion rate, and how different pages are performing. And how different sources of traffic are performing. So, whenever we make a change, we’re able to kind of look back every day prior to that and see what, like our benchmark was. And then see how that change affected it. And just by keeping a really close eye and measuring everything, and just taking the time pull those analytics into a spreadsheet every single day and like look at them. When you make a change, it’s really easy to track it and see how it will affect like your key metrics.
Felix: Now are there dedicated team members for Knixwear and Knixteen, or is there pretty heavy overlap between the 2 different company, 2 different brands?
Mary-Rose: So right now, for Knixteen we just hired a second person. I think she started like half way through December. So now there’s 2 of us. But prior to that I was just working on Knixteen on my own, and as our whole company, there’s about I think we just hit like over 25 employees. Yeah, most of hem work on the Knixwear side, and 2 of us work on Knixteen.
Felix: So now that you’ve been a part of a very small brand, the one that you’re creating, and then of course the bigger brand with Knixwear, what do you find is the best way to move as a unit? Because I think that all things you’re saying about looking at the data and making adjustments as you go along are all important. The things you do, I think is much easier when it’s just one person [inaudible 00:26:47] talk to anyone else to implement your changes. And maybe if it’s a second person, it’s not that bad. But then once it’s a larger team, it sounds like it might be more difficult for you to make these changes quickly. What’s been your experience so far with spreading the difference, or the changes that you want to make with the messaging or the content strategy?
Mary-Rose: Yeah like I’m pretty I would say, because I get like the best of both worlds right now. So I, because the Knixteen team is really small, I don’t need to go through tons of people to get everyone on the same page. If we want to make a change, I can just talk to the one person who works with me on Knixteen, and prior to that I would decide on my own. And then I got the benefit of the fact that I can also work with Knixwear developers, they have 2 full time developers, and so we can like implement changes very quickly.
So I have like the resources of a big team, but none of like the, I guess like, I won’t say yellow tape, cause they don’t even have yellow tape. They’re still pretty small. But, none of the long wait times and rounds of approval that you would need to go through to get something done.
So it’s really amazing, like it made me realize if Knixwear wasn’t there, I would definitely the route of like outsourcing everything. Because I think it’s awesome to have this ability to like come up with an idea, and how to be executed very quickly by another team. And where they’re only given the key information in order for them to do what they need to do, it really allows you to move really quickly.
So it’s almost like I outsource something to Knixwear, but I wouldn’t really say that because I work with them very closely, and we’re friends and we know each other. Of course, like their my co-workers too, but it is a good method. It’s a nice model for like a small business, I would say.
Felix: How do you decide what you want to delegate, not want to, but how do you decide what you should be delegating versus what you keep to yourself?
Mary-Rose: It’s really, it’s actually really tough. I try too much probably to do everything myself, because you get use to being like a really small team of like 1 or 2 people, where you’re just trying to take on everything yourself. But there’s just certain things I really can’t do cause I don’t have the expertise in it
So like, the main thing would be like the work our developers do. Like I don’t code, and I don’t have experience with that. So I obviously have to go to them. And I work with them. But a lot of things I sort of picked up like myself. So I do all of our design, like our graphic design for Knixteen as well, right now. So I’ve been designing for like, for a couple years. And I mostly just picked that up so that we could move faster and be able to like create more content more quickly. And making changes to our website more quickly.
So I try and, whenever I need something done, I like, do a balance of like, see if I could figure it out myself first. That’s always like my first option. I’m like, k can I just learn to do this myself. If I’m realizing that it’s taking way more time, and the results are not good enough for me doing it myself, then I go to like the expert. Cause sometimes you’ll think, Okay I’ll just use myself. And then you start working on it, and you’re like [inaudible 00:30:09] time and it isn’t even half as good. So it’s worth it to either spend the money on it, or spend the time having to communicate with someone else, and send them all the information, and ask them if they can help you with that. So it’s just like the balance of seeing like, you know, the time and the cost and benefit of it all.
Felix: Got it. So one thing you were saying earlier was about how you had to appeal to both the parents, the mom and also the daughter, or the teen that’s buying, or that’s using the product. How do you weigh which one is more important? Is it the end consumer, the teenager in this case, or the person with the money, the buyer, the parents in this case? How do you decide which one is more, in your experience, which one is more important to focus on?
Mary-Rose: So that was like, it kind of, we got to this point where we are now with a large trial and error. So we really had no idea what was gonna happen when we launched the brand, in terms of like who was gonna be buying the product, who was gonna be our number 1 customer, and who we should spend time advertising to.
So, traditionally because Knixwear are like, our products are made for adults, we marketed in a certain way. Like a lot of our marketing was done through paid advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Google. A lot of like direct marketing to our customers. And when we launched the brand, we thought, okay so we’re gonna direct market to like moms, and then we’re also gonna do the same thing to teens. And we were like, we’ll see who wins, basically. And what’s the difference.
And what we realized after like a while, in like spending money and trying to see if it would work, is that like, of course like teenagers, they don’t have access as easily to credit cards. And even though there’s like a lot of talk about how like, teenagers are now buying a lot of stuff online, and they’re getting into e-commerce and shopping online, like I think still, there’s something like 80% or more of all the shopping done by teenagers is still with cash. So like teenagers still are going to the mall, and using cash to buy what they want.
So it took us a while to realize that they weren’t gonna be the same as our Knixwear customers. We were gonna have to kind of approach them in a different way. So after a while, we kind of stuck to using that like traditional model that we had used with Knixwear, which is doing a lot of direct marketing through paid social media advertising and really targeting moms, with teenage children, and like that’s a great way to acquire customers really quickly, in a direct way.
And then for teenagers, we had to kind of say, okay the buying cycle is longer. They don’t have access to a credit card as easily and also the other thing, they don’t have disposable income. Like our products are not very inexpensive. Like, they are nice products and they’re not super cheap. So like, a teenager might not have $17 to spend on like underwear. That might be like their babysitting money, all their babysitting money. But like they loved the function of it, that they loved the purpose of it. They think it’s so cool, and they’re really excited about it. Like they respond like crazy to our advertising. But they would be commenting like, I can’t buy this. Like I don’t have a credit card. So we’re like, okay let’s try and get teenagers, more to like ask their parents for it, then thinking they’re gonna buy it, right when they see it an advertisement for it.
So after little bit of time, we just started to realize that teenagers needed a different approach, and we started to spend less money on them upfront, for acquisition and kind of try and engage them more slowly over a longer period of time. We spent, we tried spending money on things like social media influencers, and YouTube reviews is like really really big for teenagers. As you can probably imagine, they spend a lot of time on YouTube. And yeah, creating like more engaging content, engaging them over a longer period of time, and having them follow us on social media. And educating them and then eventually we, like send many messages on like how to ask your parents for this product. Cause a lot of them do want it, but they might be actually too shy, or maybe embarrassed, or they’re not ready to have this conversation with their parents.
So we do think like, not just to buy our products, the good idea to have this conversation with your parents about what you might be going through. Or what you need and how they can support you on your period, so we need to encourage that conversation. And we try and make it easy for kids to ask their parents to buy the product for them. And usually I think in other cases, I would feel like a little uncomfortable with that, asking kids to go to their parents and ask them to buy a product for them
But it’s really great that we can feel okay with this, because we know this product actually is something that can save you money long term. It’s like great for your self esteem. And we feel like it’s really good for confidence building. And it’s something that we, I feel really confident saying that, you know everybody will benefit from having this product both the parent and the teenager.
Felix: So the, when you are advertising to teenagers, the goal is to get them to ask their parents to basically use their credit card, or get them to buy it for the teenager. And are you, essentially arming them with ways to help them convince their parents to buy as well? What’s the kind of content that’s in the ads themselves.
Mary-Rose: For sure. So one thing that we did was actually on our website, on the product page we put a button below like Add to Cart, and we created like a Shared Bag button. It will automatically like open up your email, and there’s a pre-written email that explains what the product is, how it works, what the benefit is to parents, and then also to a teenager, and a link to the website.
So, we’ve written it out in a way that makes it, we hope that it won’t be uncomfortable for teenagers to send it to their parents and ask them about this product. And we’ve kind of done that work for them. And then they can really easily send it to their parents and be like, look at this thing I found online. This is what I’m interested in right now. So that Share Bag button has helped a lot with having them be able to actually share their interest in it with their parents. So that’s one thing.
And then also just in our email messaging, like we always make sure to say, no credit card, like you can forward this to a parent. Like we encourage them to share it with their parent, if it’s something that they want. And we also create content for social media, just with tips on how to bring up, not even just periods, like all different types of maybe more difficult conversations that you’d have with your parent, and try and like educate teenagers just in general, on like how to speak to their parents about these types of things. And just so they can feel more comfortable with that relationship, and what’s going on in their lives.
Felix: Yeah I think that that’s beautiful that you are encouraging them to talk to their parents about, just be more open with them. I think that’s a great cause. So this Share Bag functionality, I love it that you’re able to take, or move a lot of the friction that would typically come with the teenager having to ask their parents, or having a teenager be able to buy a product online. Is this like a tool that you’re using, or is it custom? How is it built?
Mary-Rose: So yeah, that was something that was built by our developer. So there probably, there might be an app that you can use. And it’s not like a super complicated thing. Basically it’s just a link, that when you click the button, the link opens up a pre-populated email, like in your, either on your mail app, or on your desktop computer.
Another thing that we did, that I actually just thought of, is we’re also using Amazon Pay on our website. So something just from like doing research into like the teen market is that, even if teens don’t have credit cards, like their families can sometimes share an Amazon account. So we’re just always looking for way to make it more accessible for teenagers, and easier for them to purchase it. Cause they might not even want to send that email to their parents. But that might even be something they don’t feel comfortable doing that. So if they have, they’re in a household where they’re allowed to make purchases on an Amazon account, then we wanna make that easily for them too. So it’s another way that we’re trying to make it easy for them to purchase.
Felix: Yeah I like the Amazon Pay because you’re basically are able to store a credit card on there if they’re using like a family computer, or they’re using a family Amazon account that credit card information is already in there. So that they don’t have to ask their parents. They can just use that instead, and make the purchase that way.
And do you have data on how often people are clicking on the Share Bag button compared to Add to Cart, or whatever button it’s right next to?
Mary-Rose: Yeah, I mean. We’re definitely seeing people click on it. Like it’s in use for sure. Unfortunately the way we set it up actually in the email is that we can’t track direct purchases from that link, cause it would involve putting a UTM, like a hidden UTM in the email that’s been sent to their parents. And we just wanna be really transparent with the email. We don’t want them to get an email, with a sketchy, like a longer URL in the email. We want them to know that this is a company that you can trust. That isn’t, you’re not getting spam, basically, from your kids. So we [inaudible 00:40:08] a way [inaudible 00:40:10] the direct like Share Bag to purchase, but we see that lots of people who are coming to our website are clicking on to that Share Bag button.
We also have our email list segmented. When people sign up for our email list, we ask if they’re a teen or a parent. So we can see what portion of our email list are teens and then how many of teens who come our website from our email list are purchasing, and it’s definitely a growing segment. And just takes a little bit longer. We find like, they don’t have the credit card just sitting there ready to buy. They also, maybe aren’t, don’t know how it works right away. I’d rather like us kind of nurture that relationship and share information, and then when they’re comfortable enough to ask for it, they all do it. And that’s kind of the way it’s been working so far.
Felix: Got it. And so it sounds like targeting parents of teens is a bit easier, cause I think that that’s actually a targeting parameter that’s available on some of the advertising platforms. So you are targeting these parents of teens, and what’s that content like? What do you focus on when you are selling to the buyer, but not the actual end consumer?
Mary-Rose: Yeah, for sure. It’s very different. So one thing we noticed right away is, there always is a slight drop when you’re targeting someone who isn’t the end consumer like not saying they won’t buy. In our Facebook advertising, Instagram advertising to parents is performing very well, but you have to get use to the fact that they’re not buying for themselves. So you have kind of change your language a little bit.
So we do try and focus on the elements of the underwear that make parents life easier. Things like it will actually save them money because it’s a reusable product. And the fact that the re-usable product is also a lot better for the environment, it’s machine washable or you can wash it by hand. And you’re just using less disposable product. So like, that’s the more like a universal value that the parent have as well, in terms of like, I’m being eco-friendly, and producing less waste. So we try and focus on those elements a lot when we talk to parents.
One thing that most parents care about is the well being of their children. And we talk about how you know, period leaks are a stressful thing. And teenagers today still are anxious and stressed about it, on top of like everything else, they have to worry about, like school grades, and bullying, and peer pressure. Like periods are also a major stressor for teenagers, and it really like shouldn’t be. Like it doesn’t really need to be, is basically what we’re saying.
So we try and speak language that will like, you know, impact the parents and make them realize kind of the benefit of the product to their lives, as well as the end consumer too.
Felix: I love that you are creating content that touches on the direct needs and problems and pains of the buyer, rather than saying, buy this for your teenager because your teenager will love it for these reasons. You don’t even go that far cause even though parents love their children, it’s not as direct as talking about what’s actually more directly impacting the parents. Like the cost of having to, or the cost savings of using a product like yours. Of making sure that their children are happy. Like these are pains that are directly impacting the parents, and you’re focusing on those pains of the buy, rather than trying to sell the features of the product. Even though the features of the product are what the end consumer cares about. You don’t even need to focus on that because it’s not nearly as affective or as important as focusing on the more direct pains and problems that you are trying to solve for the buyer.
Mary-Rose: Exactly. And like we didn’t know that right away, from the beginning. The only reason we know this now, is like just testing, like just by trial and error. Like we started out showing advertisements that literally had teenagers in them, and like was really really about how teenagers feel when they have their period. And we’re showing to parents, and we just like tweaked it more and more to kind of narrow in on what is the value for the parents. And that’s how we kind of got to where we are now.
Felix: Got it. And you mentioned that YouTube has also been a great platform for you to get the word out for the products. Do you work with reviewers? Who are you working with on YouTube to help spread the word?
Mary-Rose: So we send our product to tons of different people on YouTube. Like obviously we try and stay within the teen demographic. So we look for people who, you know teenagers would be watching, other teenagers.
Like one thing we do, actually, because like, I do watch YouTube content, but like I don’t consider myself like an expert on what teenagers like to watch on YouTube. So we actually like, lots of people in our office have younger sisters and cousins, so we really like to work with teenagers themselves and have them like tell us what they like. So over the summer, we have like internships, and part-time jobs for, you know, friends and family of the business, who are teenagers and they [inaudible 00:45:30]. And they came in, and they would just help us like kind of navigate the space, and show us who are the best YouTubers. Who would be interested in reviewing this product. Who, number one, aren’t afraid to like speak about periods openly and honestly, and like who are YouTubers you think are interesting, and you look up to, and you think would be good ambassadors for the brand basically.
And that’s how we found out, like who to send the product to was actually through teenagers themselves told us. Like friends of ours, and stuff like that. So that was really helpful and understanding like the social media space, cause as much as I try to, it moves so fast. And there’s just so many influencers in like the teen social media space, that like no one really knows better than teenagers themselves.
Felix: So you find that these channels that are going to be their, potentially good ambassadors. Do you just send them a message? How does it work? How do you begin talking to a YouTuber to get them to try the product that were to review the product?
Mary-Rose: Yeah so we basically get their contact information from their, like either their website or their YouTube page. And then we email them, and we’ve kind of like written like a concise sort of pitch on like who we are, and what we do.
I think the thing that really stands out is that this is like a unique product. The people who write back, usually write back being like, whoa this is so crazy. Like I’ve never heard of this. This is really cool and different. Like I think this is actually gonna stand out on my YouTube channel.
So that’s been very beneficial, like a lot of times you’re just cold emailing people, but because we have a product that one they haven’t seen a lot of people talk about, and they actually are, this is a really cool idea. I think a lot of my audience who are actually teenagers themselves, will actually like this. And a lot of, if you go on YouTube, there’s like a ton of content about periods and puberty, and growing up. Like I think teenagers are looking for people who they can relate to, who are going through similar things. So our products fit in very well with them, with YouTubers and what kind of content they’re looking to create.
So yeah, just like a cold email. And we were lucky enough that a lot of people responded back enthusiastically being like, I really do want to try this. And I think my audience will find it interesting.
Felix: So I wanna talk a little about the store, the website itself. And you mentioned that you do a lot of the design for Knixteen. Were you involved in the design of the website as well?
Mary-Rose: I was a little bit, but the majority, like the core, the homepage, and the product pages were designed by the agency we worked with. But since the initial launch, like we’ve changed a lot of it. So anytime we have launched new pages, and we’ve re-designed a lot of elements of different pages. So those portions I’ve worked on, sort of like the changes and optimization.
Felix: Yeah I like the navigation on the top of there, some of the ones that stand up that are, some are on other sites that I’ve seen, but some are obviously not on other sites that I’ve seen. I like the How It Works, Why Knixteen, the Period Talk, and also there’s also a category, or a link at top for Reviews. Did you, what was the decision behind having these up here? Was these based on your experience so far? How have having these links in the navigation helped the sales for the site?
Mary-Rose: Yeah, so we’ve played around with them a bunch, and we’ve changed them up. Like a different period to see what works, but we always try and keep a balance between like selling people the products. So of course we put the Shop menu there, so people could easily navigate to the product page and buy things.
But we also want to make sure we have that content there. So like Period Talk and How It Works. Like under Period Talk we get into lots of other topics surrounding periods. And it’s more of like an educational page, for our younger audience to come to. We really want to keep a balance between like people who shop, but we also want our website to be in some ways, be a destination for information about periods. So we’re thinking about those customers who don’t have a credit card right, the first time they come to the website. But we still want to deliver some value to them. So we keep a balance there.
And the Reviews section is like really really important. So one of the best things for our website has been our customer reviews. Because a lot of people, when they hear about our product [inaudible 00:50:13] really do what it says it does. Like does it work? So people go to the Reviews section, and they spend a lot of time on that page. And people need to kind of hear validations from like real customers that it works. And we have over like 150 reviews. And like almost all of them are 5 star reviews. So it would really help people, and answer a lot of their questions too. So the Reviews one we added recently, and it’s become a really like, one of our top most visited pages.
And then our product page is like people, we actually have watched people go on the website. And they always scroll down to the reviews.
Felix: Well what do you find that new visitors usually spend more of their time on the site?
Mary-Rose: On the Reviews section, actually. So like we have this app, I think it’s called Lucky Orange, I think is the name of it. And you can watch people on your website, kind of interact with it and use it. Like it takes small videos of like where they click, and where they spend time. And we can just see that like new people who come to our website, they always are going to the Reviews first. And I think that’s common on probably for most websites, but if you have like a functional product, and you’re making a promise about it, especially our promise is pretty bold, and it’s around really sensitive subject for people, people really wanna make sure that it does what it says it’s gonna do. And they wanna see that other customers are satisfied with their order. So that Reviews section is really important for us.
Felix: So you mentioned a few tools and apps along the way, on this podcast already. Are there any other ones that stand out to you, that you use, whether they be on Shopify, or off Shopify, to help run the business?
Mary-Rose: Yeah so, for reviews we use Yotpo. That’s, it has like a lot of tools like built into the app that have been super useful. It’s great. It’s really expensive, but I would say like maybe there’s some other like inexpensive alternative if you don’t want to pay for that one, but like the premium one. But having reviewed Yotpo has been like really good.
Shopify Script has been amazing, just because it allows you to build so many different things that, so if you have a developer on your team, like really like, you can think of anything and if you have it built onto your website, you’re not just limited to apps. You don’t have to spend so much time experimenting with apps, you can make things really customized, how you want it to be. So a lot of what we do on our website, now that we have a bigger team at Knixwear, is custom build through Shopify Scripts. Like we do a lot of bundling. So that’s helped us a lot with bundling.
Felix: Anything else?
Mary-Rose: I’m trying to think. We used to use a lot more apps when we were smaller. Like we would experiment a lot with that, but we kind of like nailed down what we need, and then everything else is built through Shopify Scripts.
Felix: Got it. Yeah, those are some great recommendations. So you know, thank you so much for your time Mary-Rose. Knixteen k-n-i-x-t-e-e-n dot com is the website. What’s next for you guys? What’s next for Knixteen?
Mary-Rose: Well right now, we’re just working on creating new products. So we have a lot of requests for like different colors in our underwear. And then long term, we’re like looking to move into bras as well. So we really wanna expand the product offering outside of underwear. Knixwear has had like amazing success with expanding into the bra category and creating really innovative bras. And we just basically kinda wanna follow the same model with Knixteen, and we already have a lot of cool ideas for how we can make something really different in terms of bras for teens.
Felix: Awesome. Looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with. Again thank you so much for your time Mary-Rose.
Mary-Rose: Thanks so much for having me on the podcast.
Felix: Here’s a sneak peak for what’s in store for the next Shopify Masters episode.
Speaker: One of the litmus tests for me was like showing up at a Toastmasters and just giving this feel on the product. And then I remember one individual going like, do you have any samples?
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the e-commerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit shopify.com/masters to claim your extended 30 day free trial. Also for this episode show notes, head over to shopify.com/blog.