How HairUWear Positioned The Wig Company One Step Ahead of Consumers
Staying one step ahead of consumers is both a puzzle and a priority for most of today’s consumer goods companies, but there happens to be a timeless recipe for success.
For HairUWear, which has been around for more than 50 years and has a large portfolio of leading alternative hair brands, its strategy has been a mix of perpetual innovation, staying in front of trends, and delivering on the promise of quality to consumers at all price points.
The company’s brands are marketed in more than 40 countries and it’s the only company in the industry that has boots on the ground overlooking production in Asia of all of its products, said Mike Ferrara, HairUWear CMO, in a case study during the Consumer Goods Sales & Marketing Summit that shared insight into the company and its acquisition of The Wig Company.
“Being ahead of the trends in any beauty business, particularly hair, is so important,” Ferrara noted. “We need to not just be creating the styles that women are wearing today, but we've got to be a step ahead,” ensuring the styles, comfort and the quality of the hair are all innovative.
That’s not to say everything has been perfect for HairUWear. It did have one big void in that it lacked a direct-to-consumer channel and almost three years ago, they decided to take action to seize this white space.
In 2019, HairUWear acquired The Wig Company, which came with its own portfolio of established brands along with an online presence, a thriving catalog business, and a large customer database. It also enabled HairUWear to tap into the new consumer base of value brands.
But The Wig Company also had some demographic gaps, and both its online and catalog content and brand logos required modernizing.
To invigorate The Wig Company's customer base, Ferrara initiated a deep situation assessment, including a brand and SKU rationalization, an extensive photo shoot to modernize and update brand imagery, and worked with the creative design team for a more contemporary and aspirational corporate logo.
"The quantitative part of the analysis I did was looking at sales and margin contribution," Ferrara explained. "The qualitative part was looking at that large range of products across the six brands and determining if a style was still modern and contemporary."
The result was Ferrara halved The Wig Company's brands from six to three and trimmed SKUs from the remaining brands. He and the team modernized the brand logos as well, even changing The Wig Company's entry-level Basics brand name to TWC Timeless — "Most people, if not all, don’t really feel good about something they’re buying if it’s called 'Basics'," he noted.
He sharpened each brand's branding and pricing strategy to a good/better/best hierarchy. He also de-cluttered the catalog, updated brand imagery with new photos that showcased models and wardrobe that were more emotionally aspirational including group lifestyle shots. While still paying a lot of attention to The Wig Company’s core older consumer, it was extremely important to Ferrara to be more inclusive and the new images included many women of color and a wider age range.
Finally, Ferrara added a customer service piece in the person of influencer Christina Jones, who became the company's personal customer concierge to provide tips, tricks and advice to customers individually and as a group via social media and email.
From an overarching strategic POV, Ferrara wanted to focus on "constant innovation, being ahead of the trends, and then delivering on your promise of quality to your consumer. You’re going to be successful anytime you’re able to do that." But throughout all of these changes, the company has taken pains to stay true to its core customer.
"I did not want to blow up things when I arrived at The Wig Company to run it," Ferrara noted. "Keep in mind they’ve been around for 50 years themselves. They had a large customer base. Anything we did in terms of redesigns and look and feel of the company, I didn’t want the catalog to get home to one of our long-time customers and have her look at the catalog and not even recognize the company she had been faithfully purchasing from."
The results? The Wig Company's online traffic is up 22%, and its website conversation rate is up a whopping 42%, according to Ferrara. Now 18% of its customers are under 35 years old, 24% have incomes of $75,000 or more, and 12% are women of color.
Ferrara admits that the decision to acquire The Wig Company was not easy, even though they knew that they needed to fill the DTC void. But, he concluded, "Don’t be afraid to change. Most times, if you think about it, our greatest opportunity to grow is through adversity."
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