Not all products are glamorous and photogenic – take for instance, men’s underwear or facial cleanser. At Bronto Summit 2017, we heard how two brands selling these necessities identified their sweet spot and then dug deep to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Persona: Affluent, Middle-Aged Male

To break into an already crowded undergarment market, Tommy John, a premium men’s underwear label, needed a solid handle on who would be a good fit for their products. While working as a medical device salesman, company founder Tom Patterson was constantly frustrated by bunching underwear. He also struggled to find an undershirt that would stay put under his suit all day. So he and his wife Erin designed undershirts that stay tucked, underpants that don’t bind and socks that stay up. While guys who wear all sorts of clothing can benefit from a pair of underwear that doesn’t bunch, the company initially targeted men who wear suits. At $40 for an undershirt, this makes sense – the starving poet is not an ideal segment. Once they identified their persona, Tommy John used it to differentiate their products from the mainstream brands and even other high-end brands. The company sticks to events and marketing tactics that appeal to “their guy.” For instance, they sponsor PGA events and even took over New York’s Wall Street subway station, plastering it with ads that spoke directly to the confident, professional male. Each double entendre reinforced the comfortable fit, including “Tommy John in a nutshell? A nutshell.” And they got very creative with euphemisms to discourage a man from rearranging his underpants, including “No Cave Diving,” No Dice Rolling” and “No Holster Jolting.” Their goal? Connect with the right shopper and then keep him coming back. And they’re well on their way.

Persona: Health-Conscious, Millennial Female

Juice Beauty offers an all-natural line of beauty products, and while they can be used by both men and women, the brand found that their ideal customer is the millennial female whose goal is to take better care of herself. She’s attracted to clean, cruelty-free products that are made from fresh, organic ingredients. But identifying the target audience is only half the battle. Just as with Tommy John, Juice Beauty needed to know where and how to engage with these young, health-conscious ladies. Millennials are digital natives, so Juice turned to social media and partnered with organizations and influencers who could help amplify their message for their target audience. “Online influencers are becoming the digital friends that people trust, especially for this demographic,” explained Director of Digital Jeffrey Grannis. “Vloggers and beauty bloggers are huge in our space.” Grannis shared how they tapped influencers such as Desi Perkins, a self-proclaimed YouTube ninja with 2.3 million followers, more than 500,000 followers on Twitter and 3.3 million on Instagram. She does makeup tutorials on YouTube and uses a range of products, including some clean alternatives. Another very influential partnership has been with Gwyneth Paltrow, founder of goop, a lifestyle site that offers readers suggestions about where to shop, eat and stay. In 2015, Juice Beauty invested in goop, and Paltrow became a shareholder. She also became the Creative Director for Makeup, a new product line for Juice. This partnership immediately expanded Juice Beauty’s reach with health-conscious millennials. So ... Juice Beauty knows their target audience, and they’ve identified the right channels to have the conversation. How do they use that knowledge to differentiate themselves? They “speak the language,” Grannis said. “This age group does their research. They really want to know what’s in the product, and we are fully transparent about that.” The brand tries to strike a balance between educational, promotional and self-help content. Recent topics include: Plant vs. Synthetic Dyes; The Power of Malic Acid; and Get Your Confidence Back (an article about getting clearer skin). The results: New customers are up 45% year-over-year, and millennial website visits are up more than 90% year-over-year. “It’s our fastest-growing segment.”

What’s Your Customer Persona?

Tommy John and Juice Beauty both followed similar steps and applied principles that can be used by other retailers. They researched to find the consumer who would be the best fit for their product. Not all men would be interested in Tommy John’s underwear, and Juice Beauty products are not the perfect fit for all women. Once they identified their market, they researched to find the language those consumers speak and the channels that would have the most effect. Who is your perfect customer? Are you speaking their language?