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Three Mums Enjoying Significant Retail Success
Last week I received a call from a woman who was running a fashion business who was in crisis.
Her sales had plummeted in recent months. In desperation, she threw some money at a very expensive radio campaign with dismal returns. It did little to arrest her declining sales. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. The Australian retail environment is extremely challenging, with many well-known retail chains disappearing. However, retail is certainly not all doom and gloom. There are many mum-led businesses who are flourishing.
So, what are the secrets of their retail success?
Helle Warming – Lucas loves cars.
Helle Warming is the founder of Lucas loves cars, an online toy shop specialising in cars, planes and trains. Helle launched her business in 2012 after not being able to find good quality toys for her young son, Lucas, who loved anything that moved.
The toy industry is fiercely competitive. Earlier this month we heard news of the collapse of toy retailer giant, Toys R Us. However, Helle’s online business is thriving. Lucas loves cars reports a growth rate of more than 50% year on year. She is completely self-funded and leads a healthy six-figure business.
National Australia Bank reports that the Australian online retail environment is valued at $23 billion in the twelve months to September 2017. Small businesses, like Helle’s, represents 36% of all online sales. Lucas loves cars is capitalising on the strong growth in online shopping amongst mothers, her key audience. My organisation surveyed more than 1800 Australian mums and found that 75% had made an online purchase in the past 14 days.
Helle points her success to deeply understanding her niche, facilitating customer reviews and generating strong word of mouth:
Lucas loves cars is like the local toy shop for the online age. I believe that our growth over the last few years has come from honouring our niche. We are not trying to be all for everyone, we are the perfect store for our customers, and that is a point of pride for us. I really believe our strength comes from our loyal customers and working consistently with our core values of quality, beauty and honesty. – Helle Warming, Lucas loves cars.
Cinzia Cozzolino – The Smoothie Bombs.
Cinzia Cozzolino was a single mother of two girls when she was confronted with a problem; her teenage daughter wouldn’t eat breakfast. Being a nutritionist and understanding the importance of starting the day right, Cinzia set about finding another way to ensure her daughter got the nutrition she needed. Cinzia developed The Smoothie Bomb; a certified organic mix of superfoods including nuts, seeds and dried fruits which could be added to a smoothie each morning which her daughter would happily drink.
Word spread, and Cinzia found herself making these for friends and then cafes before deciding she was going to turn this into a business. Smoothie Bombs are now sold in more than 1000 stores across Australia.
Cinzia’s Smoothie Bombs have been a real hit with mums, and she is on track to turn over $1 million this financial year. Another incredible achievement from a single mum who was trying to solve the problem of getting her youngest daughter to eat breakfast. Ironically, her fussy eating daughter now works alongside this innovative mum in growing the business. She credits her success to building strong retail channels alongside her online business. The Smoothie Bombs are sold in key outlets which attract mums and includes Chemist Warehouse.
Last month, Cinzia announced that The Smoothie Bombs will soon launch in the United States (US). She was invited by much loved US retailer Anthropologie to sell the complete Smoothie Bomb range.
The Smoothie Bombs success focuses on the power of their brand story. Mums love to support other mothers in business and they completely resonant with Cinzia’s initial problem of getting her daughter to have a healthy breakfast.
Not only does the brand voice need to be real, everything needs to point to the brand’s story. This works for us because essentially Lana and I are the brand. A mother-daughter owned and run business resonates with our target market. – Cinzia Cozzolino, The Smoothie Bombs
Kristy Chong – Modibodi.
Mum of three, Kristy Chong is the founder of Modibodi, which offers modern, protective apparel for women designed to give them confidence and comfort. Modibodi provides a more sustainable solution to disposable hygiene. Kristy started the business in 2014 after experiencing some pelvic floor issues whilst training for a marathon after the birth of her second child. She spent the next 18 months developing her patent-protected technology before launching her online business. In her first three years, she sold 100,000 pairs of Modibodi underwear, and she’s expected to achieve $10 million in sales this year.
Kristy has found success via public relations, social media and the use of influencers with more than 80% of her sales coming from the Modibodi online store. Kristy found that mainstream Australian retailers were very cautious in their ranging decisions, particularly when it came to an innovative product dealing with a largely taboo topic of bladder leakage, menstruation, discharge and perspiration.
Modibodi has recently partnered with Amazon to move into the United States and has also launched a United Kingdom website as she sets her sights on creating a global, sustainable business.
The key to Modibodi’s success is a mix of having a unique product, strong, strategic and engaging marketing and social media as well as direct communications with our customers. It’s important to have a mix of activity to ensure your brand can reach as many of your prospective customers as possible. – Kristy Chong, Modibodi.
Whilst the retail environment might be undergoing significant change there are clearly opportunities to excel and prosper. Kristy, Helle and Cinzia have been successful in challenging retail conditions because they really understand their niche, can communicate a strong brand story, tap into the power of reviews, influencers and media, and have secured excellent retail partners.
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