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Native Deodorant’s Ali Challenges Perceptions

Millennials can have their rosé and smell like it too — the brunch-themed deodorant goes on sale June 22.

Natural deodorant company Native Cosmetics’s founder Moiz Ali is moving beyond his instincts for his latest venture.

Taking note from his first business — Caskers, a delivery service for craft and rare liquor — entrepreneur Ali determined the target customer base for natural deodorant would be men. But in the two years he has spent working on Native, Ali has discovered that marketing to women is key in the natural deodorant space. Exhibit A: Native’s latest launch, a “brunch-themed” trio of scented deodorants.

“In my last e-commerce company, we were selling alcohol online and it was 85 percent men — we initially started marketing Native towards men as well, and I thought I understood the demographic [of the e-commerce landscape],” said Ali. A Harvard Law School grad, he had no prior experience in beauty before starting Native. “[But] we realized women are a lot more attuned to the [natural deodorant] issue and today we market to men and women — a vast majority of our customer base is women.”

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The natural deodorant space has grown increasingly-competitive within the past year. A crop of new brands are selling aluminum-free formulas in both natural and mass channels — for instance, Schmidt’s Deodorant entered Kroger stores earlier this month. But Ali plans to keep Native’s selling strategy direct-to-consumer. Ali has found that saying “no” to retail distribution has been key to growing his business.

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“We constantly iterate based on customer feedback — if they tell us they don’t like something, we test new formulas and fix whatever issues they’re having,” said Ali. “We’ve been approached by Target, Walgreens, Costco — but we don’t want to sell on any other web site, we want to maintain that relationship.”

Subscriptions are another key component of Native’s business. Ali noted the company has “tens of thousands of subscribers” who can customize the frequency with which they can receive a new deodorant order. The most common frequency is every two months and that subscription has become “a huge segment of our customer base and revenue.”

Ali said Native is “manically focused” on deodorant, but plans to ultimately expand into other categories.

Native’s limited-edition summer scents — sangria, mimosa and rosé — launch June 22 on Native’s e-commerce site. Each scent is $12, or all three can be purchased in a box set for $30.