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Lessons Learned from a Successful Startup’s Product Redesign

The following insights are nothing groundbreaking. Sometimes, though, the most obvious details are the ones ignored; the simple things are often missed.

I want to showcase a company whose marketing and design aesthetic I personally admire to present a case study on lessons to be gleaned from changing things up.

Meet Harry’s. It’s an online e-commerce business that boasts the tagline “Quality men’s shaving products. Fair Prices. Simple.” Valued at $750 million and with over 2 million customers, Harry’s is clearly doing something right. Actually, they’re doing numerous things right – from controlling the manufacturing in Germany to simple and elegant email design. Read on for three lessons learned from a recent company upgrade.

online shave club

1. Listen to your customer.

Not to be confused with the customer is always right. In this case, customers offered feedback that the company in turn took to heart. They [Harry’s] then came back to the customer with new and improved products. Harry’s clearly values its customers feedback. As in, truly cares – not, “We value your feedback. Please take the time to fill out this questionnaire that we have no intention of ever reading.” The online shaving company has completely overhauled its product lines based on customer response. You (the customer) said you wanted a more flexible razor blade hinge? Here you go, we made it. You said you wanted a handle with better grip? Here, have it. You wanted a precision trimmer? Look, we added it.

Perhaps even better news (for the customer) is that the prices stay the same. The quality improves but the cost remains reasonable. Beyond reasonable, honestly. The typical drugstore men’s razors cost upwards of $35 for 8 blades. Harry’s offers an 8-blade package for $12.

2. Change is good.

A cliche? Maybe. But it’s true. Business owners, don’t get stuck doing the same thing, thinking that your initial business model is the best. Harry’s started as strictly a subscription-based business. Now, they’ve developed to include ordering products on a one-off basis. They have expanded their product lines to accommodate their customers. Founders Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield never thought they’d buy the German factory where they make the razors, but they did – in order to own the entire process and cut costs for the consumer (vertical integration at it finest, I dare say).

The bottom line here is that there’s always room to grow. Businesses must stay innovative to stay ahead of the competition, right? Strive to delight the customer/client with your new and improved products and/or services.

Harry's new products

3. Simple marketing is the way to go.

I actually have a Harry’s subscription. And on July 18th, the company emailed me (and presumably all of their customers) with a simple message: “It’s coming.” They then advised me to be on the lookout for more news, coming to my inbox in two days time. Come Wednesday morning I received a slightly more detailed email announcing that “the next generation is here.” That’s all.

If you follow Harry’s on social media (they have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts), you might also have heard about the new product releases. But guess what? They didn’t bombard their followers with spammy content. Despite begin an almost completely online company, Harry’s didn’t inundate your inbox and news feeds with promotional material. Instead they subtly and quietly rolled out the upgrades with just a few posts – one Tweet, one Facebook status update, and one initial post on Instagram. But here Harry’s has done something interesting and innovative. They decided to create a network of different Instagram accounts that tell the story of the redesigned products and the people behind them. You can “meet the blades,” “meet our German team,” “meet the CX team,” “explore blade making,” “and meet the Truman/Winston.” This creative concept takes the platform to the next level and provides a great customer experience (without having to leave Instagram). The Harry’s team clearly values this medium and recognizes that this is the best way to connect with their target audience.

The lessons here are pretty clear: Don’t be pushy or invasive, keep your messaging simple and clear, and be creative. If possible, be funny: “Unlike new phones and charges, [the new cartridges] fit every Harry’s handle.”




Note: This post is definitely not sponsored by Harry’s. I typically refrain from product pushing but if you happen to be looking for a change, the new blades are available now. Give them a try and support this budding startup. I hear a women’s line is even in the works…

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