Brian Berger was frustrated with shopping for underwear and socks, calling the experience overwhelming and impersonal, so he’s attempting to alleviate those issues with Mack Weldon, a direct-to-consumer men’s wear brand that focuses on premium basics.
“Loyalty is up for grabs in this category,” said Berger, Mack Weldon’s cofounder. “So if you can create loyalty it pays dividends over time and it gives you license to do other things.”
According to Berger, being product-centric, digitally native and squarely focused on the customer has contributed to Mack Weldon’s growth.
The company has created performance-infused underwear with waistbands that don’t roll over, elastics that don’t deteriorate over time, and subtle branding. Berger said the team has also focused on an edited assortment that doesn’t overwhelm the shopper.
“This is a category where the customer wants consistency,” said Berger. “The problem with the traditional channel is you as a brand had to show up each time with something new to sell to buyers and that was creating a negative customer experience.”
Being digitally native and data first has meant various things for Mack Weldon. Berger said it informs the brand’s pricing, merchandising and marketing. Mack Weldon used data to create more efficient marketing, which in turn increased conversions.
“Two springs ago we launched conversion-optimized landing pages on mobile and desktop. Rather than driving people into our site, we drove them into bespoke pages that were oriented to converting the customer,” said Berger. “We saw mobile conversions increase by 500 percent and desktop conversions increase by 300 percent.”
Berger said Mack Weldon doesn’t have a big marketing budget, but they focus on targeting influencers and press, which he said offers an immediate endorsement and credibility. Mack Weldon also refrains from any promotional advertising, although the company understands the customer is used to buying underwear and socks on sale. Berger’s solution: a volume-based pricing model, which means the more customers buy, the more they save.
Eliminating barriers for a customer to experience the brand is also important, according to Berger. For each first-time purchase, Mack Weldon offers customers a try-on guarantee. If the sizing is wrong or the shopper doesn’t like the product, the company will refund the money or offer an exchange with free shipping. Customer service is handled in-house and associates are trained to incite customers to be loyal to the brand.
“We believe that if we can create loyalty with any one product, the adoption of other products is very high,” said Berger.
What hasn’t worked for customer loyalty is selling on Amazon. Berger said he initially looked at the platform as a customer acquisition channel or a place to clear expired inventory, but being on the site resulted in brand dilution and cannibalization of its digital marketing programs.
“We ultimately decided to shut down our offerings there and focus on our direct efforts,” said Berger.
Wholesale partnerships are top of mind for Berger, but Mack Weldon is taking a measured approach.
“We like to partner with complementary brands. We want to protect price and maximize our share of voice. We don’t want to compete with brands, and we want to try to reinforce this notion of utility,” said Berger.
Mack Weldon partnered with Equinox last spring for the launch of an activewear line that was sold in cobranded packaging. The product has also been stocked at the Surf Lodge in Montauk. Berger said they are considering a standalone location, but in areas that make sense.
“For us it’s critical that we are putting our product where our customer is,” said Berger. “The idea of having a shop in the West Village is great, but it’s counter to how we approach things as a brand. We want to make it as convenient as possible.”
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