Some markets are really, really competitive.
Like some types of consumer goods, for instance.
If you're selling health and beauty products, you could be competing against the likes of Unilever and Proctor & Gamble.
Razors fit the bill.
The majority of people shave, but there are so many different types to choose from, that you wouldn't think there's space in the market for yet another brand.
But Karen Young was able to build an incredibly successful brand of women's razors and shaving accessories.
She focused on solving a problem.
Young had previous experience in the beauty products industry, and between her own experience and that of other women, it was clear that the ladies' razors out there on the market just weren't cutting it.
So, she committed herself to providing a solution. With a great product and some smart marketing, she successfully broke into a saturated market.
She explains her problem solving approach in a recent podcast with Shopify.
Felix: I’m looking at your website right now, looking at the products, and like you’re saying, these are existing solutions that were pretty much catered to men.
It was very much a product for males, but when I’m looking at your site, looking at the branding, it doesn’t look that way.
It looks like a feminine product, a product that could belong to women, that you could gift to a woman.
What was involved in that rebranding of a product that was predominately focused on selling to men, but now you’re selling it and rebranding it for women. What was involved in that process?
Karen: The biggest thing when I decided to repackage the experience for women was education and problem solving.
For me, I always consider problem solving to be the core of this company’s growth and its existence, actually, because I think that was the smartest and the best approach for us because at the end of the day, what I was really experiencing myself and what all of my friends were experiencing and most women that I talk to was the fact that shaving was inefficient, and it was really uncomfortable.
When I thought about the company and thought about pulling the entire product line together in such a way that it would appeal to women, the first that I really wanted to hit on was that the razor was better for your skin, the shave was better for your skin, the products that we compiled around that were actually suited to women’s skin and suited to their sensitivities around shaving.
I thought about like … I had experience in the beauty industry.
I’d been in the beauty industry for about four years at that point and working for one of the largest prestige beauty companies, and so when we pulled everything together, concept, packaging, and finally got to the consumer at the end, it really had to be about how we would solve the problems we were having and how we would address women’s needs.
I knew that in our packaging, in our orals, in our, even our copywriting, I had to address the issues that women really truly wanted to solve, and that’s where I still always come back to the irritation that’s usually caused by shaving.
The other part of it would be education, which was just we had to figure out how to teach women how to actually shave with this thing.
Felix: The problem-solving aspect of it, how … I guess this is a little bit different, maybe for you, because you had this problem that you were trying to solve, but when you think through it, and if someone out there is trying to solve a problem that maybe they don’t have, but they’re trying to serve their customer base, how do you identify what are the most important problems that your customer has that will help you market your product?
Karen: In our case, I guess I, you might not consider it lucky, but I definitely, I guess I was lucky to say that I experienced it, and I knew that it was enough of a problem because I had the connections and the funds and so on that I could say everyone that I spoke to had the same issue, but if I didn’t have that, I think I would’ve just started from actually getting a sense of who I thought my customers were going to be and starting to talk to them.
Even though I was coming from a position where I could say, “Oh, gosh. I really hate shaving as it is, and these are the issues that I want to address and solve.”
I never took it for granted that just because I had them and a few people that I knew had those same problems, I didn’t take it for granted that everyone that I came cross would have those problems, and every potential customer that I reach would have those problems. I still don’t, necessarily.
For me, once I kind of, I started scaling from a very, very small position, so it was like, “Hey, I have this problem,” and then my friends have this problem, and their friends have this problem, and then I started going out after that.
I started looking into the Eco-Beauty and the Green Beauty community and finding bloggers and so on, and I reached out, and I started getting to know people, even before I really launched or gotten anywhere, I stated getting to know people, some of the bloggers.
Then there was an event, and I was just like, “Well, I’m just going to show up at this event.”
I think that was actually the first time I was able to validate the idea a little bit more because it wasn’t just I was coming out with something that was just really cool or you know, like, you know what I mean?
It wasn’t just like the next iteration of something that was already out there.
I was actually able to meet people and say, “Hey. I just launched this line. I have this problem. I’m trying to talk to a few more people and see if they have it as well,” and the validation was incredible.
I mean, I went home to find people had ordered while I was talking to them.
It’s just really, really powerful to figure out how to validate that product from a small position as I could and then see if I could scale it from there.
You can find more inspiring entrepreneur success stories over at Shopify.