Jessica Alba on Building a Brand in the Mobile First World

Advertising Week attendees lined the streets on New York for a chance to see Harry Kargman, Founder and CEO of Kargo lead a discussion with Jessica Alba, Founder of the Honest Company and Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Warby Parker, and the session proved to be as engaging and entertaining as was hoped.

Alba and Blumenthal share a major similarity in that they both were pioneers of innovative e-commerce business plans. Alba and Blumenthal, with no budget for opening a store, decided to launch their shops online during a time where this idea was novel. Both learned everything they could about their consumers wants and needs and catered to these desires through their e-commerce business model.

Like many parents, after the birth of her first child, Alba found herself obsessed over the chemicals in the products she was using on her baby. Despite thorough searching and researching, Alba couldn’t find cleaning and beauty products that were not made with potentially harmful chemicals. After years of looking for the perfect products, nothing fit all her needs; so, she decided to make the products that she needed herself.

“You can take your health into your own hands and create a safer, better environment for you to thrive in with your children,” said Alba.

Subscription e-commerce, although a popular trend today, was a novel idea when the Honest Company began, a feature of the company that set Alba’s already unique brand apart from competitors. The brand’s goals are to educate consumers about the products they are currently using, build a community, and give consumers a solution to the problem presented, according to Alba.

Blumenthal’s idea came to him from seeing an issue and deciding to create a solution. The production costs of glasses didn’t justify the high prices, so Blumenthal decided to find a way to sell them at fairer cost for consumers. An online space for ordering eyewear skips the middleman and allows prices to be cheaper. Blumenthal conquered the next issue, needing to try on glasses to find the right fit for your face, by allowing consumers to order five pairs and send back four.

One of the most important parts of Alba and Blumenthal’s business plans is simplified messaging so that consumers’ attention can be grabbed and their brand can be understood quickly.

“You must be religious in prioritizing messages,” said Blumenthal.

Creatives must fit the medium a company is advertising in. Often, for mobile, this means making advertisements look more authentic and a little less polished, according to Blumenthal. Both panelists alike agreed that simple, attention-grabbing messaging is what makes their messages successful in reaching consumers via mobile with limited space and limited time.

Quoting Jeff Bezos, Blumenthal said the most beautiful thing about consumers is that they are always unhappy, giving companies the perfect opportunity to always be improving their product or service. For Warby Parker, the next step is getting an app out that will help a larger portion of the population complete eye exams from right at home, according to Blumenthal. The Honest Company launched a new cleaning line recently and hired a new CEO. The company is looking forward to its next stages of growth here in the U.S., and Alba hopes to expand The Honest Company into a worldwide product in these next phases.

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