Welcome back to Products Worth Talking About — the show about disruptive physical products and the people who built them. Today, we’re going to dig into the booming industry of natural deodorants and see why our three chosen brands stand apart from other brands.
In this episode, we’re looking at three brands — Native, MYRO, and Pretty Frank (formerly Primal Pit Paste) and break down what makes them standouts in this category. We start by diving into their company backgrounds and discuss how they started and launched their businesses, before giving our personal opinions about each product’s quality and what we like and don’t like about each deodorant. Then, we transition into a discussion about business strategies and marketing methods — something that we entrepreneurs love exploring. Finally, we end with a scorecard, showing which company takes the crown for the best men’s natural deodorant out there.
RT confessed he’s been using Degree for men, ultra-clear black and white motion for at least a decade and, there’s nothing wrong with that, but we started wondering, what else is out there? With plenty of advertisements, commercials, and products in the store about natural deodorants to choose from, we turned to Google to pick our three most disruptive brands.
The research on Native was fascinating because, although founded in 2015 by Moiz Ali (a Harvard law graduate), he exited in late 2017 after two-and-a-half years young as a company! They sold to Procter and Gamble for — get this — $100 million!
Moiz clearly has a winning formula! While working as an attorney for two years, he started another company (before Native), selling it two years later, and then began Native in San Francisco, receiving $500,000 in funding over the first two years from angel investors and private equity.
LinkedIn says they have 33 employees and in December of 2016 (about 18 months into starting the company), Native had 24 iterations of the product, probably one reason Proctor and Gamble were so interested!
The packaging looks like standard deodorant packaging. Compared with the other packages, it feels less of a risk to us as an uneducated consumer.
Native aims to appeal to both sexes; although it feels more feminine than masculine — they could have switched it up slightly with a male and a female version.
The packaging isn’t that different, though the ingredients inside are vastly different from typical stuff you find in the average drugstore.
When looking to buy a natural hygiene product, a question to answer for an uneducated consumer is, “What is the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant” and “Am I still going to sweat through my stuff?”
The fact that half their revenue comes from repeat customers demonstrates their quality. When they started, they began a subscription model, which back in 2015 would’ve been disruptive, especially in their market.
The product retails at $11.99. Being natural deodorants, they are going to be more expensive, so this wasn’t too much of a surprise.
MYRO was started in 2017 by founder Greg Laptevsky, but they’re already in Target! They have 24 employees on LinkedIn and are based in New York City. They’ve taken $7 million funding from Serena Williams (tennis player) and Carmelo Anthony (basketball player), and more recently, in September 2018, received $2 million from a round table accelerator.
The name “MYRO” means Essence in Greek, which we thought was a fancy touch.
MYRO looks different from your typical deodorant. It’s in a cylindrical tube, making it feel more like a mini rocket, but we think most men expect to see something more in line with Native’s shape than this.
However, it does have a purpose! The idea is to purchase the heavy plastic dispenser (in a color of your choice) and then keep purchasing the refills. These are available from Target or subscriptions on their website. The refills pop out easily and back into the dispenser. The question is the reason they’re doing that — is it for sustainability and eco reasons? Or cost savings for them? It’s not clear to us, but it’s an interesting idea!
We’re not sold on the packaging saving as the refill is packed in plastic inside a box. We’re not entirely sure about the difference between the recyclability of the dispenser versus the refill tubes. Perhaps that’s for another episode?
The product we bought has Orange, Juniper, and Sunflower. Smells good, BUT thus far, none smell manly. We are talking about that “old spice” masculine smell that wafted from 20 feet away.
They also have subscriptions with savings against a one-off purchase. Both the dispenser and refill are $9.99 on the subscription, saving $5 against the one-time purchase, and comes with free shipping.
Number three is Pretty Frank (formerly Primal Pit Paste), founded in 2012 by Amy Perez, and it’s the oldest company we researched. LinkedIn says they have two employees, but this number depends on how many employees have profiles linked to the company.
Amy started the company herself as an entrepreneurial mom, born from a mother’s mission to find safe, natural deodorant for her children — a completely different story than these other two. We couldn’t find any funding, and it seems like the business has been growing organically.
Pretty Frank is based out of Pflugerville, Texas (we confess we have no idea where that is.) Full disclosure — this is the only product that Tyler has used prior to this episode, thanks to his eco-savvy girlfriend.
Pretty Frank deodorant faintly smells of charcoal. None of the smells are overpowering or strong, and that’s a key factor of being natural and avoiding the usual factory-produced smells. The scents are all essential oils, making it the cleanest product of the three. Of course — that’s all subjective; we’re just highlighting this.
Their logo is excellent and clear. It seems easy to recycle with information about precisely what’s inside. The shape is a bit odd, though, and it may not be immediately recognizable for first-time buyers. RT’s first guess was whether the shape resembled a lip balm for giants.
While that may be a stretch, the point is relatable to merchandising in stores. It will get lost having thinner and smaller packaging next to other brands (like Native, which is twice as wide) that command the shelf space. These are essential components to think about when producing products — how will it look next to competitors?
This one is $12.99 for a one-time purchase — or you can save 10% on a subscription model.
When it came to social media scoring, our focus in this episode was specifically on their Instagram pages.
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).
Native’s packaging is very clean and simple; RT gives it 10/10. Tyler agreed with his 9/10. Next is MYRO, where RT felt it didn’t look enough like a standard deodorant and might get overlooked — giving it 6/10. Tyler appreciated the refills’ innovation, giving it an 8/10. Last but certainly not least, we have Pretty Frank. Both RT and Tyler gave this a 7/10, sighting that it’s the only one without fragrance.
Native is crushing it across all three brands, getting a 9/10 from RT and 8/10 from Tyler. A phenomenal Facebook page complements Native’s Facebook ads with testimonials from their influencers and customers. They have a very strategic, systematic approach to their Facebook ads. The video drops down on the landing page or the homepage; on the Facebook ad itself, it says over 9,000 five-star reviews, 2.5 million customers — really effective.
Next, MYRO came in with a 7/10 from RT and 6/10 from Tyler with some traction building on Instagram. MYRO’s Facebook ad shows a GIF of somebody opening the product and refilling it. Maybe not as good as the testimonial style ad from Native, but they cleverly have “Available at Target” with their logo on the bottom.
Lastly, Pretty Frank received an 8/10 from RT as he included their Facebook stats, while Tyler gave a 3/10, citing they need to develop their story and share it on social to convert it; the ads on Facebook weren’t great either.
Native gets 9/10 from RT and 8/10 from Tyler, with their website receiving 613,000 people a month. Native’s website is exceptional — particularly the bright red purchase buttons. The heavy website traffic shows the link to their subscription heavy business — people have been on there for almost two and a half years now! They have all the customer reviews right there to engage and a pop-up that tells you to enter your email, and you have 60 seconds to give them your email before you lose something. Great tactic!
MYRO gets 7/10 from RT and 6/10 from Tyler. Their site receives 89,000 people a month, but it’s worth noting that they are available in Target, so perhaps online sales is not a driver for them. Their website feels as though they spent most of their money on a high-end designer, but the ease of shop and clarity is missing for us. There’s no clear visible way to shop, and there’s a clumsy three-stage process called “get started” that has overcomplicated a simple process. We also don’t see enough education around why recyclability or being more eco-friendly is essential — we would stick that out there in front so people understand why they should buy from you versus somebody else. That’s nowhere on their website.
Pretty Frank gets 5/10 from RT and 7/10 from Tyler. Their website isn’t great, but according to their distribution, they’re in almost every retailer across the country, so they’re doing something right!
Native gets 8/10 from both RT and Tyler for becoming a “big boy” player in the industry so quickly.
MYRO gets 9/10 from RT and 7/10 from Tyler. RT isn’t sold on the refills but believes they can build a story around why they do that and share data on how the refills save packaging and plastic as an example.
Pretty Frank gets 5/10 from RT and 8/10 from Tyler because being one of the first players to market gives them disruptive credibility.
Native! Overall with a beer score of 69, Native leads the pack with an excellent score on the beer table ahead of MYRO with 53 and Pretty Frank on 50. That means we have to find the founder of Native, anyone who knows Moiz Ali — put us in touch with him!
Both of us had a key takeaway from today’s show for our own businesses:
#1: RT’s is customer retention. 50% of Native’s customers buy, again and again, every month through subscription, but they take care of their customers. Most Vortic Watches customers buy a second or third watch (one guy has 15 watches!) Today’s episode helped me focus on doubling down on my customer base and leveraging that to grow the brand continuously.
#2: Tyler’s is retail strategy. With REBL Jane, we have retailers currently showing interest. While that is important, today, I learned the importance of balancing retail relationships in conjunction with a great website to maximize online sales.
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Thanks for reading! Until next time —
RT and Tyler