So here’s a question for you:
Which grocery category of non-edible products do you shop making increasingly careful choices around the products’ ingredients, choosing your favourites based on something very akin to flavours, looking for additive free or organic options, and even buying different versions of the product to cater for different members of the household?
For me, there are quite a few parallels between how we shop Food &Beverage grocery categories, and how we shop the Personal Care categories. After all, the products in Personal Care are about how we take care of, nourish and draw experience from our bodies from the outside-in, where as we buy Food and Beverage products to solve these needs from the inside-out.
Another really interesting parallel is that like Food and Bev. start-ups, skin and hair care brands also increasingly try to develop their products from natural kitchen-cupboard ingredients and have a brand purpose that is centred on being kind to nature. Another striking similarity is that these businesses often start at the kitchen table, getting proof of concept at farmers markets, before moving into retail.
What I find interesting about the Personal Care category is that it remains majorly dominated by the large global brands that our grandmothers and mothers would recognise: Head&Shoulders, Radox, Palmolive, Dove… or slightly more recently, all the “famous hairdresser” hair care brands that have launched since I was in my 20s.
And although there has been real change on the fringes of the category for years, in the Whole Foods and the Holland& Barretts, why aren’t more of the local, natural, purpose-led brands not stealing share from big brands in the supermarkets?
I have decided to pepper this series with the odd interview with founders of insurgent brands across various Personal Care categories, to see if we can learn from their experiences in a different category, in a different stage of the unavoidable 21st century category overhaul we are seeing across the board.
I recently came across an inspiring emerging brand in Personal Care that started out on the kitchen table 12 years ago, but now has national listings across all the major grocery retailers and drugstore chains in the UK , has 30 employees and is currently seeing at at least £4M in market sales.
The Little Soap Company is a purpose driven, vegan, cruelty free, ethically produced, free-from brand with a range of soaps, solid shampoo and shaving bars that use organic ingredients that you’d easily recognise. It was the first- and is still the only – “free from” range on the supermarket shelves, and has just started what could be a revolution for the category – a range of solid shampoos and washes, to avoid packaging in plastic containers.
We also discuss whether it’s useful to talk about what it’s like being a female founder.
To start to start your journey in understanding how emerging brands can transform the Personal Care category, and what we can learn from their experience, LISTEN to our interview with award winning and inspirational Founder/CEO Emma Heathcote-James.
Hear how Emma’s vision is “to make pure soap the norm not the niche” and how as the first – and often only– “free from” range on the supermarket shelves, The Little Soap Company is at the forefront of some real category transformation.
Instagram: little_soap_co; eco_warrior_soap
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