Dollar Shave Club Moves Offline With Vending Machines
Dollar Shave Club (DSC) announced that it will be introducing automated retail to increase the brand's physical footprint. As part of a pilot program, DSC will roll out vending machines featuring trial-sized versions of the brand's favorite products. The machines will be placed in high-traffic areas (e.g., airports, train stations, malls, stadiums) across the country. Nick Virginio, senior brand development manager at DSC, discusses the new vending machine program in this interview with Total Retail.
Total Retail: Why has Dollar Shave Club decided to roll out vending machines as another channel to sell its products?
Nick Virginio: Our automated retail machines are a great way for consumers to learn about Dollar Shave Club and experience the brand offline. It serves as a large interactive billboard which features trial-sized versions of our favorite products to lower the barrier of trail and increase awareness. Our goal is always to drive consumers back to the site to encourage membership. However, there's still a need to get our products in the hands of consumers when and where they're looking for them.
TR: What variables factor into the decision on where to place the vending machines?
NV: We used a variety of consumer data to determine our location strategy. The primary decision vector for us was to find locations where we would get the most foot traffic, and we identified two strategic verticals. The first was “mass transit,” which includes airports, train stations, bus terminals, etc. The idea here is that we can capture the traveler who is on-the-go and may have forgotten or is suddenly in need of one of our products. The other focus area we're calling “hyper retail,” and this includes locations that feature a mix of corporate, dining, entertainment, etc. Some examples here would be malls, shopping centers, office complexes, and more. From there we identified key markets where we have the largest opportunity to recruit new members, and naturally major cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Minneapolis rose to the top of the list.
TR: How will these machines be integrated with DSC's online presence?
NV: The hope is that by putting our products in the moments and locations where people are looking for them, we will increase awareness of DSC as a full-service grooming solution. Historically we know that once someone has tried our products, we have a very high conversion rate to get them to become lifelong members of the club. By putting travel/trial-size versions of our products into the real world, we're reinforcing the message that DSC is always there for you in the moments when you need it most. Additionally, we included an "on-the-go" version of Mel, our content publication, inside each of the automated retail kits which features interesting content and encourages people to explore even more on the site. Everyone who visits the machine can elect to receive a follow-up email to help ensure a seamless transition into the club.
TR: What will the merchandise mix be for each of these machines? Will that differ based on where the machine is located? How frequently will the merchandise mix be evaluated, and changes made?
NV: Each machine will feature six pre-bundled kits of various DSC product assortments spanning shave, shower, hair care, skin care, freshen up and the greatest hits, which includes the most popular product from each of DSC’s product lines. In an effort to drive awareness of our sub-brands, we chose to craft the assortment by category.
TR: What marketing is DSC planning (or already started) to promote the brand's vending machines?
NV: We will be kicking off a campaign shortly that will accompany the launch of our first few machines. We have a variety of activations planned across social, owned, and paid channels. These activations will be targeted within each market to drive traffic and engagement with the machine.
TR: What's the scope of this initiative (i.e., how many machines), and what are the metrics you're looking to see before deciding to expand the program?
NV: There are 10-plus machines being deployed around the country starting in 2019. The primary success metrics for this initiative have always been about increasing brand awareness and member conversion. While there aren’t any official plans at this time, we're continuing to explore other opportunities to place our machines in additional locations like sports stadiums and international terminals where prospective members may be flying to countries where DSC is also available.