How to Build Loyalty for a Commodity Product

How could a commodity product like razors build a rabid and loyal following? They showed personality from beginning to end.

Dollar Shave Club

Recently I joined the Dollar Shave Club, a service that sends razors to your house each and every month. One of the big selling points of the Dollar Shave Club is the ridiculously low prices. The entry level blade is $1 a month for five blades.

Compare that to your typical Sensor blades that would run ten to fifteen bucks at your local Walgreens for the same amount of shaves.

Now, it would be relatively easy for another company to compete with Dollar Shave Club on price. And let’s face it: razors are a commodity. They are a means to an end; we don’t buy razors, we buy cleanly shaven faces. (Or other parts of your anatomy if you’re big into manscaping, but I digress.)

However, Dollar Shave Club creates such a great, unique experience, that it builds loyalty from a rabid fan base, and it starts even before you use their product.

Injecting some personality.

Visitors to the website are greeted with the introductory video “Our Blades Are F***ing Great.” Now, you might find that completely offensive. I’m sure Dollar Shave Club hopes some people do. But for their target audience, that’s just f***ing funny. 

And completely unexpected.

In fact, I just got out of a sales meeting where I was telling my prospects about the video and we were all busting a gut. (If I get the job, I may owe co-founder Mike Dubin a cut. No pun intended.)

The experience. 

When the box arrived in the mail it came with the message, “Shave Time. Shave Money.” on the side of the box. While a plain cardboard box would have been cheaper, it helps reinforce the company’s motto and personality. 

Once I opened the box I was greeted with a warm welcome and “The Member Handbook” which welcomed me to “the club.”

Dollar Shave Club Box

Immediately, I’m a member. I’m part of a club. This is like being a card carrying member of Red Sox Nation. Or Fire Nation. I’m an insider. This is the exact opposite feeling I got from getting picked last for kickball.

And it only cost me a buck a month.

Inside this box was a smaller box that held this month’s razors. It contained more irreverent advice.

Don't TP the Neighbor's House

The upsell.

In the first box was a free sample of Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter. You can add shaving butter to every order, but it’s not the kind of thing I would normally add. Still, I was intrigued.

Dollar Shave Club Butter

I also liked how they reinforced the branding from the website by using the wood grain on the instructions sheet.

Was it any good? Well, it passed the wife test, and that’s good enough for me.

How can you inject personality into your experience?

You don’t need to sell razors to inject personality into your experience. In fact, before the Dollar Shave Club, I’m sure most people would have struggled to come up with a funny, irreverent brand for shaving.

If you have a physical product or packaging, you’ve seen ways in which you create an experience. Surprise people and give them more than they were expecting.

If you have a location, there are examples of “experiences” in retail all around. My kids–when they were younger–always wanted to go to Bugaboo Creek for dinner to see the animatronic animals. Or the vastly different experience of an Apple store.

If you present, do your slides reflect your website and the rest of your marketing collateral?

Does the Welcome message for your email newsletter reflect your brand or is it the generic “Welcome to our community” language that was put there by the email service provider programmer in 1997? (If you want an example of personalizing your welcome message, be sure to sign up for flyte’s email newsletter. Really.)

If you’re putting on an event, is it a typical corporate conference, or is it something else entirely? For The Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference, we created a “Late Night” event.

Every speaker had their own theme song as they took the stage, spun by a popular DJ from the alternative station in town. We had a musical act. And instead of a typical Q&A, speakers came to sit at the desk with the host (me), just like they would on Jimmy Fallon. (We even stole his Thank You card bit.)

Your turn.

Have you ever had a really good experience with a brand? Who was it? Or, do you have your own example of how you create an experience for your customers? Let us know by leaving a comment. Thanks!

Oh, and if you want to check out that video…

Rich Brooks
Clean shaven, with a buttery finish

2 Responses to “How to Build Loyalty for a Commodity Product”

  1. Raymond

    I don’t shave often to warrant a monthly subscription, but I’m huge fan of DSC because they get so many things right as a business. The way they create loyalty as you say is a great thing for other marketers/businesses to copy. I also read about their “tell a friend” program a few weeks ago and that’s another tactic that helps them build on this loyalty, even though they sell a commodity.