Issues such as hair loss and erectile dysfunction have always been tricky subjects for men to broach. For this reason, e-commerce has become a leading way to tackle these problems. Andrew Dudum (pictured below), founder & CEO, Hims, started his business to enable discreet access to treatment for sensitive issues such as these, but also to further the conversation about topics such as ED and hair loss. Here, he talks to DTC Daily about the goals for Hims, the brand’s DTC model, and establishing the company’s sister brand – Hers.
DTC Daily: Hims is looking to help men with issues they’re uncomfortable confronting, such as hair loss and erectile dysfunction. How does Hims’ branding and messaging help make that conversation easier?
Andrew Dudum: The lack of conversation around men’s care has bred confusion and hesitation; men feel embarrassed broaching these conversations with doctors, friends or partners. We want to make it easier and more affordable for people to get the care they need – creating candid conversations to eliminate societal taboos that exist around these conditions. To that end, our direct but bold approach to branding and tone has allowed us to break the ice and bring these serious topics to light. We’ve found Hims’ users are open to humour and provocation, which are two of our favourite ways to kickstart a conversation about often stigmatised topics. Overall, we want to build a brand that guys are proud to display on their bathroom counter, not hidden in a drawer. In addition to offering access to medically-backed products that actually work, we’re building a consumer-centric brand that puts people’s care first.
How does the fact that Hims is a direct-to-consumer business, rather than an over-the-counter medication, help men engage with the products, and confront these awkward issues?
Hims’ business model allows men to take care of their health on their own terms. Our platform connects patients directly to doctors, creating a critical first touchpoint for people who have been left out of the existing health care system due to stigma, prohibitive pricing, insurance, or geographic location. We provide convenient access to a network of over 200 doctors, who leverage our online consultation to evaluate the most appropriate course of treatment. We’re also up front with customers about our pricing and services; this model eliminates the uncertainty and hassle patients typically face when trying to figure out how much a particular procedure or service will cost. We pre-negotiate with third-party pharmacies at cash rates on patients’ behalf to alleviate the hassle of insurance, and there’s an added convenience and cost saved by not having to travel to the doctor or pharmacy.
As these are still issues men have trouble talking about, is word-of-mouth and referrals still important to the customer acquisition? What other channels are effective for getting the word out?
Hims’ users – especially on Instagram – are passionate about sharing their experiences, advice, and tips. Immediately after launch, we were surprised and excited to see guys posting unboxing videos of their Hims packages on social media and even videos singing in the shower with Hims shampoo. We now call these videos “Hims Shower Parties” and even made a commercial featuring some of the clips. We’ve prioritised showing up where our guys are – whether that be the subway in NYC, Giants stadium in San Francisco, or their gym down the street.
How are you guys using data to ensure you’re optimising your marketing, personalisation and product development?
We spent over two years prior to launch testing the ingredients and formulations behind our over the counter products and understanding the telehealth space from a medical and regulatory perspective. In developing Hims’ product line, we saw that many over the counter offerings boasted results that men didn’t see. We wanted to create offerings that were backed by science and proven to work. We’re able to communicate directly with our customers through our platform and build out our offerings based on their needs. For example, we started receiving daily requests from users who wanted Hims conditioner to pair with their shampoo. Thanks to this feedback, we launched that offering this past spring.
Hims has already created sister-brand Hers. What’s next for you guys?
Exactly one year after launching Hims, we introduced Hers to help women understand their options when it comes to preventative care and guiding them to the most efficient process. Since Hers’ launch in late 2018, we’ve had over 50k interactions on the platform and we’re thrilled to see continued excitement and and openness from customers across both platforms. The ongoing evolution of the telehealth landscape will drive greater access to quality care and we’re committed to expanding categories where men and women’s needs are still not being met. Ultimately, we want to improve the way consumers engage with the healthcare system, resulting in a culture of care that prioritises the patient and is accessible to everyone.