Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today we have Janelle Hailey. Janelle, welcome.
Hi, Thomas. Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
I’m excited to have you. I don’t know if you’ve seen the other episodes but in most instances what I will do is I will just say take a moment, tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do. But on this occasion I’ve been communicating with someone, I think their name was Samantha and the introduction was too good to miss. So, in 2020 hand Sanitiser went from being one of the most stigmatised products to one of the most in demand as brands and stores sold out of their inventory and supply chains were stretched to the max. One brand decided to relaunch to scale up. I’m curious how this played out. I’d like to introduce you to Janelle Hailey.
Thank you. Thank you so much. I kind of wanted to do like a trailer voice, you know?
Yeah, that’s perfect, Loved it. What would you like to tell people about yourself?
Yeah, there was a great introduction for the last year and a half I’ve been the head of marketing and innovation and e-commerce for Olika a clean wellness hygiene brand with safe, effective, sustainable and fun hydrating hand sanitisers. That set up that you gave, I get the question all the time, did you join this brand because of the pandemic? And absolutely not. It’s really a brand that understands that you can do good in the world and do business at the same time. The brand actually existed before the pandemic on a mission to improve health through joyful hygiene experiences. And that was a big reason why I became a part of the brand. and that’s why I love marketing, I love working on conscious brands that really understand that you can contribute to solving society’s biggest issues while making your profit. And we’re doing that at Olika through the pandemic. I did that eight years prior, working in beauty marketing, and it’s just super excited to take this knowledge and passion that I have for an underserved mending category and personal hygiene and really meet the needs of consumers to Olika.
Well, I was intrigued, so I did have a look at the products and it does it does live up to, you know, I’ve not seen anything like it in terms of packaging, at least for a hand sanitiser, so how much did you have a part in that? I had a big part in the redesign of the brand, you know, there were some fundamental things that we wanted to address, that we were hearing from our consumers in terms of being more sustainable and offering a refill packaging, extending our fragrance choices. so are consumers are very vocal, love them, and they tell us some things that they would love to see, and we were able to tap into that and really broadened the range of the fragrances thick some of those fundamental design issues as well as just relaunched the brand, the look, the feel, the communication, make it fun and exciting because even during a pandemic, even having to use Hansen hand sanitiser more than you’ve had to before in the past, why can’t it be fun and enjoyable as you’re taking care of your health at the same time?
And so That was that was our brand new launch in late 2020 actually. So, in terms of generalising it, because, you know, the idea being that other business owners are also listening and you know, maybe the brand might uh, do with the modernist from their perspective, what would you advise? Let’s say you were speaking to someone that you were fond of and they said, yeah, I really need to work on that. What advice would you give them in terms of modernising the brand?
Yeah, I would tell them to first start with talking to your consumers. I am a big consumer marketer, whether you call them consumers or customers, depending on if your product or service, understanding what it is that they love about your brand. What are some of the things that you could do differently? I think sometimes we get a little put back by negative feedback, but I think the best stuff is in the negative feedback because that allows you to understand how you can push yourself better and then also going out there and understanding your competitors right?
They probably have wonderful things that they really exceed at and they probably also have opportunities as well. And so maybe you can take some of those opportunities that they have and bring that to your business. I think that’s really, really important to start off with for anybody who wants to modern ise the brand, because it’s really important to understand what your point of differences as a brand, as a product as a service, because that’s the essence of everything you do. And then from there you can get into the fun and exciting things. Um, what is your brand? Visual identity? What are like the codes? And when I say codes, what are the logos, the colours, the images that really kind of invoke what it is you want to stand for it as a brand? How do you translate that into packaging? You know, in a world of Instagram and everything needing to be Instagram mobile, packaging in the packaging, even if you’re a service, it could be your storefront. How are you making sure that you’re really incorporating a modern look and feel into that aesthetic? and then also, you know, whether it’s content, whether it’s your website, whether it’s your social media feed, once you kind of nail that visual identity of how you want your brand to look and feel, then it’s really kind of easy to extend it across the marketing ecosystem.
You were about to touch on, I think what my next question was and that’s the outcome. So let’s say you’ve got a generalist business and they feel like they need to work on this particular topic, what can they expect to get when they put the work in to do all those things that you just referred to?
Yeah, I think what you can really expect to get is more sales and more brand loyalty. At the end of the day, we’re all businesses and we’re trying to sell products. I think branding is such a fundamental part of sales and selling a product, because, again, really what it does is answer those fundamental questions of, do we believe what you say? Is this a good product or service? And do I like it for me? So when you do all of these things, you’re really addressing those questions, and by answering those questions particularly, do we believe you? And is it good that’s going to trigger a sale, right? So all these experiences, all these visual stuff, it’s fun, but we’re not doing it just to do it, we’re really doing it to showcase how we answer those questions.
And then the last question, do I like it for me, that’s where loyalty comes into play, right? Because once you bring them into your product or your service, you really want them to keep purchasing and repeat purchasing. So how do you craft and experience, how do you crack the website? How do you cry draft emails? How do you craft your social media posts and strategy to really, you know, get people to keep buying because it’s much cheaper to get people to buy again than it is to acquire new consumers all the time. You say it helps with, you know, like and trust. Yes, yes, sort of summarises what you went into, and I haven’t thought about it that way before. But yes, it’s a very good point. there were some other things which were on your list of items that you didn’t mind talking about and I particularly like this one and it’s tough choices and it’s how to determine where to put the money, what your thoughts there.
Yes. That is a constant and enduring question and it really boils down to again, I always say this, I sound like a broken record, but starting with knowing your consumer, I call them connection points, but really where as a brand are you going to connect with them throughout the consumer journey? You know, some people are listening to podcasts all the time. Some people are on social is very broad. They could be on Instagram, they could be on TikTok, they could be on Reddit, they could be on Pinterest. So you really, really have to understand your consumer. That’s why I always start there. It’s super important because once you do that you can make the really tough choices of where you’re going to put your dollars right, there’s some areas like search, you have to be there because if you’re not there, your competitors are going to be there or other brands are going to be there because people, whether it’s on google or amazon, they’re always searching for information, so those kind of things are really important and then I think part of it is just making what I like to call smart gut decisions.
You know over time we’re really just gonna understand with the data, what works for your business, but sometimes things are thrown at you, like when we were re-launching Olika. there’s a period of time where Facebook said hand sanitisers can’t market. So think about that Facebook is this big behemoth and you know, we were asking ourselves, how do you market in a world with Facebook and Instagram and reach those consumers. And so we had to make some smart gut decisions about exploring newsletters, you know, good old fashioned email, we’re running back and people were subscribing to newsletters and there are very attentive audience and so we had really great success you know, focusing on some of those. We hadn’t done it before, so that’s what I call it, a smart gut decision. But we were informed by data and just some of the trends that are happening around us. So it’s a constant exercise of doing that all the time where they are in a pandemic or just the normal every day. It’s understanding your consumer where they spend time and then where you’re going to get where you have to be competitively and then we’re going to get the biggest thing for your body in terms of understanding your consumer.
What exercise would you typically encourage businesses to do if they were to want to achieve that goal? Absolutely. Well, my favourite because it’s crappy and you can do it all the time and don’t have to necessarily invest a bunch of money and big consumer research, social listening, I think there twofold. It’s going out into your social channels. Like I said, our consumers are very vocal about, um, us being more sustainable and doing a refill product. They’ve also been very vocal about what fragrances we should launch in the future. So I’m excited. We have some very cool things coming up this fall for them. But those comments are golden. The feedback is golden. You know, they’re sharing their opinion every day about what they love about you and those same social channels, you can go to your competitor social pages and just see what they’re saying. You can go to adjacent categories. You know, we look at clean as an industry, we look at clean fashion, clean beauty because it’s going to be like a lot of insights and those verticals as well.
So that’s really important. And you can take those comments. People are like, how do you assess it? You know, there’s things as simple as okay, sitting down with a spreadsheet and bucketing the comments into themes. And then all of a sudden you’ll have some really strong themes. You can take the comments and put it in a word cloud, good old fashioned word clouds are back just to see where the big messages are happening. But you know, it’s really important to do that. And then also is social I include ratings and reviews, um, and social listening. You know, we’re all acting for them. people are giving your opinion, you know, and again, the five star just as important as the one star but taking time on a weekly basis to go through those really helps you understand your consumer better.
Great answer. I like the phrase as well. Social listening. Absolutely. I wanted to ask because I forgot to mention it. I thought for a moment, if I was tasked with the concept of modernising hand sanitiser, how would I go about doing that?
And I suppose the way it hadn’t occurred to me before that it needed monetising – modernising rather. But I thought the way that you do it is by combining it with some other product. And I thought the hand sanitiser products that you guys have sort of reminded me of. You remember the old Macs that have all that? They’re really colourful Macs, remember them? It sort of reminded me of that. Was there any inspiration that you took from anywhere?
Yeah, I would say there’s a lot of, we have a great designer, Michael, so he is a guru in this space, but there’s a lot of inspiration, I think from the tech world, even from beauty, some of the colours and things that were saying. And I think colour was like a big part of the experience. We think about Olika and or hand sanitiser, just being like an accessory, really being able to showcase your personality and your self-expression. And so in order to do that, colour had to be a really big part of the story, so that it’s something visible that people either want to leave on their desk, leave on the counter, or with our clip on, you can carry it on your purse or your backpack. So in order to do that, we really had to make it a very elegant and modern accessory and that was at the forefront of the redesign.
Do you deliver to the UK?
Not yet. Well, we’re working on that.
All right, well, the next one, the next point is not one I’ve covered on the podcast, so I’m interested to know what you’re saying on this one and its supply chain surprises to keep in mind.
Yes. Oh, there’s so many interesting things in this area during the pandemic, I think it was quite clear when the shelves were empty, there was a shortage on hand sanitiser for a while. So how do you deal with selling out of your product and waiting for your new shipments to arrive is a really, you know, interesting question. We had to get really creative about how do we use this time to do two things? as I mentioned, we were redesigning the brand. So how do we start stating that redesign, feeding the content, transforming our social account so that we’re building a really strong social footprint so that when our product arrived, you know, we weren’t just at the building stage, we could just announce for we’re ready to go.
So we really thought about what content pillars we want to have as a brand. How do we communicate that to consumers? We were able to test and learn some things, you know, not shocking, we learned that animals really are engaging for people. so we were able to connect that to our to our products more and really work on our storytelling. And then from a business perspective we really wanted to nurture our email list right? Get sign ups, let people sign up to know when the products arrive so that they could be the first ones, get some of those early bird discounts etcetera. So it was really a great time in terms of like nurturing your email and list building. So that was that was really critical for us and we were able to take advantage of that and re-launched in September. So I always like to tell when we launched in the middle of the summer we launched in September and we were able to have great success because we did some of those things over the summer as we were waiting for our supply chain to pick back up you know and then there’s all these other surprises sometimes they’re beneficial for you.
There’s a good example you know the FDA. And when you’re a clean brand and you’re working with different ingredients, sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad. You know, Metallica? We really have a philosophy that we call Metallica Clean, which is our commitment to efficacious ingredients that are safe for humans and the planet. And us being really transparent about everything we’re doing. There were some things that were happening in the category with bad ingredients and recalls and hand sanitisers. And so that’s a supply chain from a different perspective and that we were able to take advantage of that as a brand really standing behind being clean and putting ourselves out there with our clean message in order to capture some consumers during that time as well. Thank you for that. It makes me think about one thing, which I’m not sure. I’d be interested to know what your take is on this. That is typically when demand goes up and supply goes down, Prices go one way, which is up.
And it’s just whether or not because on the one hand, that’s typical. So you would expect that of any other industry, but on the other hand, during a pandemic, that might be questionable. So did you have those conversations or what have you got any thoughts on that particular topic?
That’s a really good question. And this is where I think it really boils down to conscious brands and kind of what is your ethos as a brand and how do you make decisions? For us, we really didn’t have a big conversation on this because it was important that we remained accessible. Yes, we are a little bit more premium than others in the category. We always have been but we weren’t going to use the pandemic and as a reason to take prices higher, in fact we had more promotions during the pandemic than anything because it’s just really important to maintain that accessibility, you know we did see and I would say pretty much across the category, people did maintain their price points.
There were some instances of outside through party buyers like buying products, boarding and reselling at higher prices, but that wasn’t really what brands were doing. And I have a lot of respect and for this category and for the players in it during the time you didn’t see the press, the price couching. That that could have happened. Do you get a lot of requests to resell your product or not? We do And we do, you know we are DTC brand but we are also in retail. So you know we sell at some e commerce retails like thrive market, we’re at places like Safeway, we also sell that in boutiques. So we do have on that side of the business as well.
Next point marketing versus sales and keeping your brand equity in mind. I like the idea of this conversation. So what your thoughts there?
Yeah. I love this question. I really do because I always think there’s like a tension between brand marketing versus like product marketing and how to how to the two go together because there’s this theory that product marketing is what really drives the sales. But I think when you take a step back and you think about brand building brand sale over longer periods of time when they reach when they reach consumers with a branding message, and I think it gets back to the conversation that we were having earlier, but a brand is really just a perception of a consumer has about your product or service, it’s the level of credibility, quality satisfaction that they have in their mind. so you can do both together. It’s not either, or I think the best companies really understand, I mean, you mentioned Apple, I think they’re like the cold standard, even Airbnb, a more modern example that, you know, they have a very tangible product, but they also have, like, a brand experience around it, and that’s why consumers come back again and again, Michael Eisner have this really great quote that a brand is a living entity and its enriched to undermine cumulatively over time. and it’s the product of 1000 small gestures.
So when you think about a brand like that and you think about sales, sales is like one of the gestures, the actual act of selling. So if that’s like a conversion at or whatever that is, that’s just one of those small gestures, but they’re intimately connected. So it’s not really necessarily a choice of one or the other. I think it’s really about where are you at in the consumer journey or the good old fashioned marketing funnel awareness consideration, conversion, Where you might be pulling on one element stronger than the other, but really, um, you’re always building a brand at the end of the day. And so it’s not a trade-off between the two. What would you say? Brand equity means to you? If you were to give it a definition, what would you say?
Brand equity is the perception that a consumer has about you based on that perception, how valuable they think the brand is in their daily lives.
Nice answer. Have you answered that one before?
You know, I love it. All right. Well we’re potentially – or the rumours are that we’re hiring again. So maybe we might be hiring soon. And one of the topics which you are happy to cover, correct me if I’m wrong is knowing who, when and where to hire. So what advice can you give me? Oh yes. Um, so I think first understanding with your hires, what are you trying to accomplish? What are your business objectives right now that you feel like um, bringing somebody on the team is really going to help you accomplish. I will use the example of when we were relaunching Olika. You know, for me it was really critical that – I mean we live in a world where there’s just a lot of digital native brands, so that goes without saying, but I knew that we had a lot of data that we needed to harness and we need, so we needed somebody with a data first mindset who could take that and translated into really rich insights.
I also knew that at the end of the day, especially with the pandemic, we really need to focus on our consumer and so getting somebody in who could handle our customer care role was super critical, you know, in one week we sold more than we did in an entire year, which was amazing, but then there’s a lot more emails, a lot more inquiries about products and where they’re at etcetera. And that really led to critical hires. We have an amazing director e-commerce and data science because she really is able to have that data first mindset and just come up with really rich insights to tell us about the consumer. And we have an amazing customer care lead who’s just best in class that doing whatever it takes to listen to our consumers and then help them with whatever problems, issues or just general questions that they have. So you know other people were like oh why didn’t you get a social media manager and all these other kind of things? But it was where the business told me I needed to hire people first. So I think that’s the most important thing you can build from there.
Any interview tips? Yeah I would say ask the tough questions go off the traditional tell me about a time. You know because I think that like surprises people. you know. just ask them kind of anything that relates to the business of the brand. Get to know them on a personal level, say I think that’s what really matters at the end of the day, I’m of the belief that a lot of people can be trained to do jobs. But it’s a little bit harder to assess fit. So asking some of those untraditional questions will really help you unlock fit a lot better.
So you don’t use the, where do you see yourself in five years then?
No, because any good interviewer will have a canned response that’s tailored to your interview.
So you know, not at all. I like things like tell me about a time you have to like even though I’m starting to tell me about a time and such habit, but you had to teach somebody something new like what was that experience like, right? Because now you’re starting to get into, you know, how they behave as a person, how do they act and engage as a team? You know, so I like those kind of questions and how many interviews do you tend to do? You know, as many as it takes to get it right? I did 12 for one higher, just you know, yeah, I like to keep it open and try to meet people, but that might have been a little bit much. but resumes are hard. There’s a lot of like amazing people out there with resumes that stand out. So I think it’s just important to meet as many people as you can. And especially from a diversity perspective it may take a few more interviews in order to make sure you’re interviewing a diverse set of candidates.
12 interviews is epic. I don’t know how you had time to do anything else.
Yes, I know it was a lot. They are 30 minutes. I’m also not one of these people who want to interview for an hour. So it was not 12 hours, it’s just six. But yeah, 30 minutes and just get them done, knocked them out. But it’s good. It’s fun meeting people. I learned a lot too throughout the process. So I enjoy that. I’m an introvert actor, but it’s a little bit of fun for me.
Yeah. Well regarding the business, have you had any conversations or had any thoughts on when you’re a – because everything is moderately high demand right now and it is very possible that the demand stays – but how the business looks when people aren’t quite so worried about the pandemic. Have you given any thought to that?
Yes, absolutely. I don’t really think about that a lot, especially right now as we’re at a different stage of the pandemic. So right, hand sanitisers and all this existed well before the pandemic. There’s a lot of seasonality when you think about winter and the cold and flu season. There’s a lot of built in users when you talk about commuting and just getting back to commuting life. So we do think that there is an opportunity to continue to sell. Of course, outside of the pandemic, we also believe there’s a lot more consumers who have just adopted healthy hygiene habits. I think one of the really positive things coming out of the pandemic is that we’re all much more aware of hygiene and washing your hands and all of those things, that’s just heightened more so, and some of these habits will definitely continue to stick as we get into the fall and the cold and flu season and then of course, you know, this is why I think it’s so important to build a brand because when you build a brand, you have permission to go into other products and categories or services if you’re in a service business. And so we’ve also been thinking of how do we extend our brand and in those regards as well?
So if you’re thinking about it, it means that it’s not public information yet, is that right?
Correct. No spoilers.
You mentioned the Facebook ads. Should we say disapproval or product disapproval? Is that lifted now? I forget.
Yes, it’s lifted now though they go back and forth on a monthly basis, but it’s lifted, were able to advertise on Facebook, but I’ve actually found other traffic. I said the newsletters, that’s a big part of our campaigns going forward. So I’m super excited about that. There’s some radio things, digital radio, things that we’ve been doing that I’m excited about. So that was a lovely challenge so that you’re not over reliant on one channel. I think that’s an important thing too with your budget. So yeah.
What are your goals, Jenelle, I guess personally and from a business perspective as well?
Yeah. Well from a business perspective, I am super excited to take this brand to new places. I have a lot of belief that Olika can revolutionise the hygiene category and bring that joy into other areas and other products. And so I’m excited to see that unfold over the next couple of years. We have some exciting innovation this fall even within hand sanitiser that we’re doing to keep it fresh and innovative and so very, very excited to unlock that as well. And I think like, you know, the brand goal is a professional goal. I’ve been very privileged to work on some very mature brands, Neutrogena, cleaning clear MTV gap, in my history, but this is really exciting to take a brand that’s at a newer stage and bring it to those iconic statuses of some other brands that I’ve worked on before. So that is my personal and professional goal kind of all wrapped into one.
Did some name drop in there? I liked it. And is there anything that is relevant to the conversation that you would like to mention that I haven’t asked you about today?
Yeah, I think we covered a lot. You know, I think my only advice usually is, as you’re looking at all these things and thinking about all these things, you know, don’t let perfection be like the enemy of getting going and getting started. You’re going to make mistakes, things change just like that. Like I mentioned, the Facebook thing just came out of nowhere and we had to roll with it. You’re not going to get everything right. Not all of our newsletters succeeded, so only some of them did. So you’re not going to get everything right. It’s not going to be perfect, but don’t be afraid to get out there and try and innovate because that’s when you’re really going to get to those amazing places for your business and brand.
Great message to end on, Jenelle. Where’s the best place for people to find you?
Yes, you can find me through the brand Olika on Instagram.
All right, well thank you very much for your time today.
Thank you. That was great.