Madison Reed might be a digitally native brand, but the fact that it doesn’t live solely in the e-commerce space is key to its growth strategy.
Amy Errett, cofounder and chief executive officer of the three-year-old prestige hair-color brand, said that Madison Reed — which started out selling its at-home color kits via its own web site — is in “the expansion mode of a in-person brand.”
Madison Reed color bars — a speed-salon concept offering quick gloss treatments and root touch-ups from $35 to $85 — opened this year in New York’s Flatiron and San Francisco’s Mission District. Errett said that plans for 25 more color bars are in the works. Selling also happens via social media — Madison Reed introduced a Facebook Messenger chatbot, called Madi, in late 2016. And aside from madison-reed.com, the brand is distributed in Sephora and Ulta Beauty, both online and in stores.
Dismissing the term omnichannel as “just a word that venture folks and start-up people made up,” Errett talked about the need to reach the consumer “everywhere she is” — the core of Errett’s blueprint for the brand.
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“The way we think about it at Madison Reed is that we need to be everywhere for every emotion of hers, every desired level of serve quality — and we are completely channel agnostic,” said Errett, who said she thinks about the brand’s key consumers as falling into three key buckets — the endorsement seeker, the experience seeker and the support seeker.
The endorsement seeker, according to Errett, is buying Madison Reed products at Sephora and Ulta. “We have people that want to touch and feel the product,” said Errett. “She’s going to get some sales help and she wants efficacy and credibility.” The experience seeker is driving Madison Reed’s salon business. The support seeker, said Errett, is the customer who is comfortable coloring her own hair at home and buying the at-home kits online. She may seek assistance from the brand’s chatbot or its customer service representatives, a group of 28 licensed colorists.
Customer service is one area Errett refuses to outsource, no matter how big Madison Reed gets, calling it “the heartbeat” of the brand. The customer service representatives work off a proprietary algorithm designed to find the best color matches — Reed compared it to the algorithm Stitch Fix uses to find the most pertinent clothing to a customer’s personal style.
The data collected by the algorithm is also used to steer new product development and tweaks to existing products, said Errett. “One subtle thing here about having data is that it’s taught the company a lot of problems — if you’re not direct-to-consumer or you don’t have the data, you can’t see that there are things in your business model that need to improve.”