Shaving and personal care Athena Club is ramping up its in-person and out-of-home presence as it looks to capitalize on accelerated growth and recent venture capital funding.
Athena Club launched in July 2018 — and relaunched in Dec. 2019 — and has raised a total of almost $26 million in fundraising, including a $15 million round closed in June. The DTC brand sells razors, body care, period care and ingestible supplements. Now, it’s opening its first-ever pop-up, from October 22-24 in New York City. It serves as an extension of its first national advertising campaign that kicked off earlier this month.
According to previous Glossy reporting, in 2019, Athena Club had over 10,000 subscribers and expected to achieve an 80% customer retention rate by 2020. Products can be purchased a la carte or via a subscription for a discount. Sarah Hudson, Athena Club vp of brand, declined to share current sales or subscriber figures, but said the company’s customer base has grown by more than 2,000% year-over-year in 2020. That would put its subscriber count at around 210,000, according to Glossy’s calculations.
“We’ve seen tremendous growth over the past two years. We’ve seen a lot of organic growth and traditional marketing channels work for us, but now we want to test new channels, like out-of-home [ads] and television streaming platforms,” said Hudson. “We want to see [whether] they can give us a major awareness push that we are striving for at this stage of our business.”
Athena Club timed its pop-up to run just as people are feeling more comfortable being at in-person events and shopping in-store. Additionally, as the holiday season ramps up and customers are opening their wallets, Athena Club wanted to seize on the awareness opportunity, even though it is not trying to become a gifting brand. Athena Club is offering free shave kits to people who come in with another razor to exchange.
“[We’re trying to] emphasize the quality of our products and the fact that you can get many self-care essentials in one place,” said Sisi Ye, Athena Club senior brand manager. “It’s about tapping into different touchpoints in people’s self-care routines and simplifying their experience into something more convenient.”
Athena Club customers are widespread both geographically and demographically, Hudson said. The company has customers in 50% of all zip codes in the U.S. and its customers span from Gen Z to Gen X. Though Athena Club has tapped into OTT ads, OOH ads, influencer marketing and paid social in the past, 6% of monthly customers to date have come to the brand via word-of-mouth, according to Hudson.
Going into 2022, Athena Club would like to be known as a creatively and visually-led brand, said Hudson. Its October digital and OOH campaign was directed by Canadian visual artist Petra Collins and photographed by Adrienne Raquel. It centers on realistic reasons and ways that people shave. Up-close photos of feet, a pregnant woman and a couple shaving side-by-side are just some of the images included.
“What we’re really keen to do next year is think about storytelling opportunities, and take that [campaign] approach and apply it to all of our other product categories. With our way of talking about shaving and advertising, we hope we can usher in a new way to talk about personal care .”
In the past, shaving and personal care DTC-native brands like Flamingo, Fur and Billie have also attempted to radicalize shaving ads. In 2018, Billie touted itself as the first shaving brand to feature toe hair in an ad, through a series of OOH subway posters. And, in 2019 Flamingo held a pop-up entitled “The Bush 2020,” which was meant to poke fun at uncomfortable conversations that exist around body hair and women’s vaginas. All have collectively emphasized the element of choice.
Throughout 2022, Athena Club plans to expand its body care, wellness and period care categories, as well as new personal care categories. Hudson declined to provide specifics. From a marketing standpoint, the company will continue to invest in OTT TV ads and pop-ups, should the upcoming test prove successful. Athena Club is also entertaining brand collaborations and celebrity partnerships, but has no definitive timeline for either.