Challenger to Watch 2019: Hims

For making erectile dysfunction sexy

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Why is Hims a Challenger to Watch in 2019?

Well it’s not because we’ve been seduced by its slick design, suggestive ads, or down-to-earth tone of voice.

Or that it’s on a clearly defined mission to redefine the status quo.

Backed up by a disruptive (in the classic sense) business model.

Running against a competitive set that, at its best, is really quite dull, and at its worst, does a good impression of a snake-oil salesman.

It’s not even that it is crystal clear about where it needs to overcommit in order to win.

A combination of all of these however, could be enough. Which is pretty exciting.

Credit: Hims

Credit: Hims

Though a few brands in approximately adjacent(ish) categories have shown how it might work, the core pharma category has been pretty inhospitable to challengers (or even brand) until recently. Perhaps ahead of its time, Help Remedies gave it a good shot before going quiet in 2015, but it’s taken the DTC revolution to breathe new life into the category.

And common sense would say this makes sense. It’s a category talking to people who want to fix something (whether they’re patients or HCPs), and not - at that moment - people interested in ‘brand’. Efficacy, naturally, will be king. And of course, if it’s going to work then it probably won’t come cheap.

Like a true challenger, Hims disagree with this conventional wisdom.

Credit: Hims.

Credit: Hims.

Superficially, Hims is a quintessential direct to consumer brand. It’s taken generic (and therefore cheap) versions of successful prescription drugs such as Viagra, and packaged them up in an easy to access (after a short online consultation) subscription model.

What really sets it apart is what it’s wrapped around the functionality and its value proposition. Far from just being another online pharmacy, Hims see the secret to long term success as lying in an overcommitment to the consumer experience at key touch-points - from leaning into the moment of unboxing, a focus on creating an excellent customer support team, to intentionally human and demystifying explanations of how its products work.

Finally, whilst it’s not the only brand in this space embracing slick design and irreverent comms campaigns, Him’s efforts have a clear goal in mind – by borrowing the playbook from the raft of other brands applying a lifestyle wrapper to functional products Hims is aiming to do more than just drive awareness, its intention is to normalise the issues men may feel awkward thinking about, let alone seeking help for. And it’s done so in a brilliantly reassuring way. Hims offer choice. Choice to embrace baldness, or not. Choice about when to get an erection. Or not. It’s up to you.

Credit: Hims

Credit: Hims

So, what’s to watch in 2019?

As its ambition to become a one-stop for all your wellness needs sees it broaden its range beyond the killer products that have made it famous, will it dilute its appeal or enhance it?

And can the launch of Hers, aiming to mirror Hims success but for a female target have the same impact in a category that’s already quite noisy?

One to watch.

Toby Brown is a Strategy Director at eatbigfish.