Hey guys! Welcome back to Products Worth Talking About — the show about disruptive physical products and the people who built them. Today, we’re going to take a close look at some of the best men’s soap brands out there.
Soap may not sound exciting initially, but the soap business has really boomed in the last few years. Companies have started to offer subscriptions to specialty soaps while using the direct-to-consumer model. Ten years ago, this would have been unheard of, but now, these businesses are absolutely crushing it.
The total Google searches for “men’s bar soap” has doubled in the last five years, and looking at those numbers, one can see trends around Father’s Day and Christmas. So, either men have just gotten more hygienic over the last few years, OR these companies have been highly strategic in their product design — everything from packaging to marketing to smell. We’re guessing it’s the latter.
In this episode, we discuss three fantastic bar soap brands: Duke Cannon, Art of Sport, and Dr. Squatch. We first look at the products themselves, the smells, the packaging, the user experience, etc. Next, we look into their marketing, talk about things they appear to do well, and share some ideas we have for other things they could do. We also look into the companies’ histories and estimate how well each company is doing based on some analytics. Finally, we rate each company against each other and pick a winner!
With that, let’s take a closer look at some of these brands —
As we unboxed the Duke Cannon bar soap, the first thing that stood out to us was the packaging. The marketing is ingenious — on the side of the package, there are hilarious headlines such as “Not for Clowns” and “Not Made in France.” Every time you pick up a box, it makes you want to laugh.
Next, we noticed that the soap itself screams “high-quality.” It’s pretty heavy, and it’s about the size of your face. There’s a very “American” quality about the soap as well — for starters, Duke Cannon is an American brand that donates to military causes. Secondly, the names of the soaps embody the American spirit — we’ve got names like, “Accomplishment,” “Productivity Wins the Day,” and “Naval Diplomacy.”
By now, one can see that Duke Cannon knows how to market their products to men. Their soaps make the perfect gift for any father, brother, or friend.
Now, let’s talk about pricing — each bar is $10.29 on Amazon, and if you compare that price to other high-quality brands, it’s very similar. It’s definitely more expensive than your average Dial soap, but you’re also getting a greater amount of soap for your buck. It not only smells amazing, but it will last you much longer.
Lastly, let’s talk about Duke Cannon as a company and how it began. It was founded in 2011 by two men — Anthony Albanese and Sam Swartz. Anthony was previously the Director of Marketing for Gatorade, but after a while, he decided to pivot to men’s grooming. The founders wanted to create a brand of soap that would stand out from the rest and also cater to the working men of America.
Here’s their mission statement: “Duke Cannon’s purpose is simple: to make superior-quality grooming goods that meet the high standards of hard-working men. Our products are tested by soldiers, not boy bands. And they’re made in a little place we like to call the United States of America.”
Their company currently has around 13 employees (according to LinkedIn), and they’re located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To start the company, they raised some money on Crunchbase, a platform for investors to discover up-and-coming companies, and they spent a lot of time crafting the marketing and packaging of the brand. And as you can see, it definitely paid off.
Now, let’s move to Art of Sport — a men’s grooming brand that caters specifically to athletes. The first thing we noticed about their packaging was that it has a very modern design — it would pop off the shelf in a store or catch your eye online. It’s definitely a smaller bar of soap, but in each package, you get two bars, so it doesn’t matter in the long run. On the packaging, they advertise that their brand only uses clean products, and they explain all the ingredients that are included (and which ones are left out).
As for the smell, these bars smell very fresh and have a clean scent. When you compare them to the huge Duck Cannon bars, they definitely have a more feminine aspect — they’re not as “manly,” per se, but they’re definitely more traditional as soap goes. And if you’re looking for something with a cleaner, more discrete smell, Art of Sport is the brand for you.
For their two-pack, the pricing is $8.95 on Amazon. It’s less expensive than other specialty brands, and you do get two bars of soap as well!
A group of individuals founded Art of Sport in October of 2018, so it’s a very new company. The co-founders include Matthias Metternich and Brian Lee, both of whom are very successful entrepreneurs. Brian Lee is all about finding influencers and building brands around them, which is kind of the opposite of what everyone is doing right now (building brands and then finding influencers). We think that Brian’s strategy is genius, and it’s been helping him found companies such as LegalZoom and ShoeDazzle since 2005.
After co-founding Art of Sport, Brian Lee became the face of the brand, and he’s constantly finding more athletes to help promote the company. On their website, you can read their mission statement: “We built Art of Sport to empower all athletes to look, feel, and perform at the top of their game on and off the field.” So, if you’re an athlete or just constantly in the gym, Art of Sport may be best for you. (Plus, they have a ton of other products such as deodorant and shampoo.)
Surprisingly, the brand actually started off on a pretty mild note. Even though they had the money to start off with guns-a-blazin’, they decided to begin slowly and ramp up their marketing gradually. It’s obvious that Art of Sport is a very intelligent company, and their brand strategy is doing wonders for their business.
Last but not least, let’s talk about Dr. Squatch. The thing that originally attracted us to this brand was their craft packaging style — it’s very simple, just using black and brown colors. All the packaging is pretty much uniform across all their products, and they put a sticker strip around the bottom of the box to distinguish between their different scents. The simplicity and consistency of the packaging distinguishes them as a reliable, authentic brand, and they use simple, natural ingredients as well! They’ve got around ten different flavors (obviously don’t eat it) of soap, and they all smell very clean and fresh. The bars are a little smaller than Duke Cannon’s, but they’re bigger than Art of Sports’.
Each soap bar smells great and leaves your skin feeling clean and healthy. When using soap, the last thing you want is for your skin to feel itchy or dry afterward, but with Dr. Squatch, you never get that feeling because they only use natural ingredients.
Compared to the other brands we’ve mentioned, Dr. Squatch is probably the cleanest. They use essential oils and non-GMO ingredients, so if you’re looking for a brand that has absolutely no artificial or toxic ingredients, Dr. Squatch is the one for you.
For one soap bar, it’s $9.95 on Amazon. While the bars aren’t as big as Duke Cannon’s, you’re getting a moderately sized bar of soap that contains all clean ingredients, and there are tons of scents to choose from!
Dr. Squatch was founded by Jack Haldrup and AJ Fountain in 2013, and they’re based in Los Angeles. Through various funding methods, Dr. Squatch was able to launch successfully with just a small number of employees. Tyler actually got to meet AJ in Fort Collins, and he enjoyed talking to him since he uses Dr. Squatch soap every day.
Their mission statement, as seen on their website, is “to RAISE THE BAR for the men’s grooming industry and change the way men approach their hygiene by providing healthy, natural products that allow you to feel like a man and smell like a champion.”
Dr. Squatch is a phenomenal brand and great company run by great people. And their commitment to use only clean, natural ingredients really makes them stand out.
Now that we’ve reviewed each bar soap brand, it’s time to evaluate them and determine which one rises above the rest. Here’s how we evaluate products and companies…
First, we look at their social media scorecards — we run through Instagram, Facebook, and so forth, and we examine their social media presence and advertising. Tons of people base their buying/investing decisions on what’s on their Instagram. RT spends a lot of time working on Vortic Watches’ Instagram because that’s most people’s first impression of the company, and we all know that consumers often make decisions based on their first impressions. Let’s start with Duke Cannon…
After taking all of these statistics and our subjective opinions into account, we give our final score — the Beer Score (AKA which founder we want to find and have a beer with).
RT said that he trusts Duke Cannon the most out of the three because he knows from experience that it’s always a great gift (and it makes you laugh). However, Tyler thought that Art of Sport has the most credibility since it’s been endorsed by top athletes.
We thought all of them had excellent websites, but we both appreciate how Dr. Squatch focuses on quality and simplicity rather than flash. Their website also includes verified reviews and feedback from customers, increasing credibility and giving visitors a very clear call to action.
Regarding marketing, we thought that all of the brands were great. RT picked Duke Cannon as the best, while Tyler was partial to Dr. Squatch and their hilarious videos.
Due to its cleanliness and the way it makes our skin feel, we both choose Dr. Squatch as the winner in user experience. Tyler can especially vouch for them since he’s been using their soap for over three years!
As far as social media presence goes, we both choose Dr. Squatch as the winner — those viral videos are honestly hilarious, and they’re a phenomenal marketing tool. They have an excellent grasp of their brand voice, and they’re sticking to it!
RT preferred Duke Cannon’s packaging, their standout graphics, and the brick-like soap, while Tyler liked Art of Sport’s modern appeal and smaller bar size.
Lastly, we scored each brand based on their disruptive appeal — how they stand out from other brands and catch our attention. For RT, it was, again, Duke Cannon. He associates weight with quality, and so a huge brick of soap screams that for him! For Tyler, you might have thought he would have chosen Dr. Squatch, but he actually chose Art of Sport. With the direction of business expert Brian Lee and with the support of top-tier athletes, Tyler believes that Art of Sport is going to be HUGE in the long run.
After tallying up our scores, we were finally able to determine which brand was best…
Duke Cannon! The scores were all very close, but Duke Cannon stood out from the rest as one of the best men’s bar soap brands in the business — the quality of their products, the marketing strategies they use, and their brand presence are all above and beyond.
We hope you enjoyed reading our reviews and that our findings inspired you to check out these top soap brands! They all are phenomenal, and you couldn’t go wrong buying any of them!
One thing we both learned through our research is the importance of social media marketing, influencers, and email funnels when it comes to creating a sustainable product-based business. Subscription-based services are becoming HUGE, and they’re highly beneficial both to the consumer and the seller.
If you’re looking to start your own business, one of the best ways to learn is by looking at the top brands in your industry. What do they have going for them? What marketing strategies work well for their products? On Products Worth Talking About, our mission is to not only give you reliable information on disruptive products but also give you valuable insight into what makes great businesses successful.
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Thanks for reading! Until next time—
RT and Tyler