“Exploration is the engine that drives innovation. Innovation drives economic growth. So let’s all go exploring.” – Edith Widder

Time has become such a valuable commodity to today’s time poor society. We are constantly on the go, constantly attached to our mobile devices and consequently demanding convenience.

These demands have dictated many a retail strategy of retailers and clients we’ve worked with, as retailers race to implement seamless omnichannel strategies, allowing customers access to brands, products and services from all points along their customer journey.

Great news for the time poor, but have we lost one of the pinnacle simple pleasures of retail; browsing, exploring new products and services and broadening our consumer minds?

Enter the subscription model.

While many may see ‘subscription retail’ as another buzzword or fad, the concept whilst not new, when revisited in an omnichannel environment of time poor customers can be seen as a successful answer to a previously unanswered consumer problem. As highlighted by the successes of Birchbox, nominated by our American partners for the Ebeltoft Retail Innovations 10 awards in 2014.

Birchbox founder, Katia Beauchamp, was quoted earlier this year saying that within an ever growing beauty sector with over 200,000 new products coming to market every year, Birchbox came about to serve a growing consumer need.

Subscription based retailers have come and go, however the unique selling point of those who stand a bar above the rest is not only delivering convenience but also delivering added value and using time as their advantage. They understand their consumers; not only their purchasing behaviour and product decisions, but their lifestyle and personal values, and cater accordingly.

One example of this is Sydney based start-up gentSac. gentSac is a subscription-based service – taking the hassle out of shopping for men’s essentials such as underwear, socks, grooming and personal hygiene items, while keeping their customers updated with new, innovative, sophisticated brands and demonstrating why they enhance your lifestyle.

On top of the subscription based service is also an e-commerce shop of a carefully selected spectrum of products, a growing social media community, a gentSac blog and the beginnings of a cultural movement that are all significantly adding value to the brand interaction.

Speaking to co-founder, Shira Linker, gentSac is a home grown concept which began out of a realisation that part of the evolution of any man is self awareness, self care and self pride.

Like a lot of innovative and disruptive young retailers we’ve covered recently from Sneakerboy to Mon Purse, GentSac’s customer centric strategy built around in house consumer insights has allowed them to successfully cater to their target audience at a more intimate level than many other brands.

Taking a soft launch approach with solely organic marketing through word of mouth and social media presence, as well as brand enhancing pop up shops at markets in the likes of Paddington and Chippendale, the brand has been able to gather data and live consumer feedback from the very beginning and gain vitally important customer insights to build a retail strategy that’s strengthening by the day.

Described by Shira as the core pillars to the business, the brands hosted within the model also play a vital role in the added value and success of this small business. The team endlessly explore the world for the best products that fit the unique brand ethos, seeking products that are organic, aesthetically pleasing, smell great and are made solely for men (not extensions of women’s lines).

The brand has recently collaborated with the men’s health charity Movember, and this is only the start of many more collaborations to come as the brand pioneers the beginnings of what Shira describes as a cultural shift and new conversation in regards to mens grooming, health and looking after themselves inside and out.

“Grooming is easy to relate to, and a routine that effects everything you do. Millions are invested in women’s grooming, so where’s the same for men?”

While the women’s market is seen to be saturated with health and beauty blogs, products and services, the gentSac team see huge potential for the men’s market, particularly in Australia. Euromonitor recently reported that the overall menswear category in Australia is expected to outperform womenswear in terms of value growth over the next couple of years. A similar trend that has been seen in the UK where the male grooming market is set to exceed the £1 billion mark by 2018.

gentSac is not only a retail brand but through it’s social media presence, collaborations and blog, works as a catalyst, an ice breaker, to authentically engage male consumers in a conversation about their health and well being that many other brands have simply assumed this audience do not wish to have.

With goals of opening a showroom next year and the business rapidly growing in global brand awareness, there are big things ahead for this well groomed start up.

Retail consultant and advisor, Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or brian@retaildoctor.com.au.

Vikki Weston is part of Retail Doctor Group’s Retail Insights team. Email vikki@retaildoctor.com.au to nominate new innovative retailers you think are disrupting the retail landscape.

First published on Inside Retail on December 9th 2015