As a maker of natural soap and grooming products for men, Dr. Squatch caters to a consumer group that's notoriously hard to reach through traditional media channels like linear TV. The digitally native brand has instead worked to carve out an identity on platforms where younger men are more likely to spend time, especially on their mobile devices.
After spending $3.6 million to run ads on TikTok in the first eight months of 2021, Dr. Squatch has cemented its place among marketers on the social video app, according to company data shared with Marketing Dive. TikTok has become a key part of the brand's effort to boost sales, which exceeded $100 million last year.
"TikTok is unique because it has grown significantly, especially among younger users, and we want to talk to that audience in the right place with the right content," CMO Josh Friedman said by email. "We invest heavily in reaching new customers through social media advertising. Our advertising strategy is to balance investment in core advertising channels with experimentation on new high-growth, high-potential platforms."
About 10% to 15% of Dr. Squatch's new customers have come from TikTok, making the app a core growth channel for the company as it offers a broadening line of personal care products. Founded in 2013, Dr. Squatch and its marketing budget have expanded alongside sales growth, this year resulting in the brand's first Super Bowl ad. The mass market effort signaled that Dr. Squatch was ready to take on men's grooming brands like Procter & Gamble's Old Spice and Unilever's Axe, which have worked to retool their creative approach and messaging strategy in recent years.
Adopting the TikTok rawness
TikTok in the past few years has skyrocketed in popularity, growing its monthly user base to more than 1 billion, according to a company announcement. In Dr. Squatch's home market of the U.S., almost half (48%) of people ages 18 to 29 said they use TikTok, making the app more popular than Twitter among young adults, Pew Research Center found in a survey. The combination of a growing user base and popularity among Gen Z has lured more advertisers to TikTok, whose key feature is its continual feed of user-generated clips. Its algorithm monitors how people interact with content to help personalize their feed, while also recommending a diverse selection of videos to avoid "filter bubbles."
"The platform also is unique in terms of its fast-paced, short-form content, which is very suited for our creative strategy given our success with attention-grabbing, humor-based video content," Friedman said.
"We invest heavily in reaching new customers through social media advertising. Our advertising strategy is to balance investment in core advertising channels with experimentation on new high-growth, high-potential platforms."
Chief marketing officer, Dr. Squatch
Because most TikTok videos are made by amateurs, the platform has a rawness that viewers associate with authenticity. In creating content for TikTok, Dr. Squatch has adopted the same sensibility with offbeat videos that include internet memes or references to pop culture phenomena like Netflix's hit show "Squid Game." The goal is to not only boost its popularity and grow a dedicated following of brand enthusiasts, but also to bring "drop culture" to the men's grooming category. Dr. Squatch has introduced limited-edition products such as its Irish cream and whiskey soap on St. Patrick's Day or its outer space-themed soaps.
"Our natural soap product also has resonated well on the platform," Friedman said. "Improving the shower experience with natural products that work well and making soap and the shower experience something fun and exciting has struck a chord within the TikTok community."
Measuring campaign performance
Because Dr. Squatch aims to acquire first-time customers through TikTok, its most important performance indicator is cost-per-purchase. It also measures reach, engagement rates, conversion rates, average order value and lifetime value (LTV).
"The majority of Dr. Squatch campaigns focus on testing and scaling creatives that execute on these core KPIs," Friedman said. "As TikTok continues to grow at a rapid pace, we aim to grow with them, targeting new audience cohorts within their platform and being first to market with new ad product features."
Dr. Squatch also seeks new customers on TikTok as part of its broader media strategy of boosting incremental reach.
"We are thoughtful about incrementality across all of our ad platforms," Friedman said. "TikTok is unique because there is naturally less overlap with our other core advertising channels given demographic differences. Across channels, we also use surveying to ensure customer self-reporting in terms of where they heard about our brand aligns with where we are investing advertising dollars."
TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has built out its ad platform with a variety of tools to manage and measure campaigns. But its biggest opportunity may be in social commerce as direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands like Dr. Squatch target the lower parts of the purchase funnel. TikTok has expanded into social commerce through collaborations with e-commerce software provider Shopify, which this year culminated in the introduction of TikTok Shopping in an expanded test.
"Given the growth of the platform and our success to date, we expect TikTok to continue to be a bigger and bigger channel for us in future years," Friedman said.
Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect the timing of Dr. Squatch's ad spend. The brand had spent $3.6 million on TikTok ads as of Aug. 26, 2021. Due to incorrect information provided to Marketing Dive by a Dr. Squatch representative, this article has been to updated to eliminate any reference to the brand's position among TikTok advertisers.