Menswear Style Podcast

Henry Allan, General Manager of Hims

June 30, 2020 Menswear Style Episode 69
Menswear Style Podcast
Henry Allan, General Manager of Hims
Chapters
Menswear Style Podcast
Henry Allan, General Manager of Hims
Jun 30, 2020 Episode 69
Menswear Style

Hims offers a modern approach to health and wellness. Their mission is to eliminate stigmas and make it easier for people to access care and treatment for the conditions that impact their daily lives. That starts with creating an open and honest culture of care that is accessible for everyone, no matter who you are or where you live. Since launching in November 2017, they’ve become one of the fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands in history. Taking care of yourself doesn’t need to involve a doctor’s waiting room. You can access their products online from the comfort of your room and all Hims products are up to 80% less than what’s currently offered over the counter or through your local pharmacy. Only 1 in 10 guys feel comfortable talking about their looks and health with their doctor, but thanks to Hims, men now have easier access to the care they need.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Hims General Manager, Henry Allan, and discuss how the brand from San Francisco has grown so rapidly in the wellness space since it was founded in 2017. After running his own successful direct-to-consumer brand, Henry approached the founder Andrew Dudum to suggest bringing Hims over to the UK with the aim to replicate the successes seen across the pond. Our host Peter Brooker and Henry also chat about the differences between the two markets, regulatory challenges, pharmacy partnerships, providing discreet packaging, and the importance of a simple eCommerce platform for consultations and learning. Peter also shares his own hair loss story and how it affected his confidence whilst he was in a band.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Show Notes Transcript

Hims offers a modern approach to health and wellness. Their mission is to eliminate stigmas and make it easier for people to access care and treatment for the conditions that impact their daily lives. That starts with creating an open and honest culture of care that is accessible for everyone, no matter who you are or where you live. Since launching in November 2017, they’ve become one of the fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands in history. Taking care of yourself doesn’t need to involve a doctor’s waiting room. You can access their products online from the comfort of your room and all Hims products are up to 80% less than what’s currently offered over the counter or through your local pharmacy. Only 1 in 10 guys feel comfortable talking about their looks and health with their doctor, but thanks to Hims, men now have easier access to the care they need.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Hims General Manager, Henry Allan, and discuss how the brand from San Francisco has grown so rapidly in the wellness space since it was founded in 2017. After running his own successful direct-to-consumer brand, Henry approached the founder Andrew Dudum to suggest bringing Hims over to the UK with the aim to replicate the successes seen across the pond. Our host Peter Brooker and Henry also chat about the differences between the two markets, regulatory challenges, pharmacy partnerships, providing discreet packaging, and the importance of a simple eCommerce platform for consultations and learning. Peter also shares his own hair loss story and how it affected his confidence whilst he was in a band.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

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Hello, and welcome to another episode of The menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker, how you doing? Welcome back and on today's episode, I've got a very special guest I'm going to be speaking to Henry Allen. He's the UK manager at hims. Just a little bit of information on hims hims is a one stop tele health service for men's wellness and care providing treatment options for hair loss, erectile dysfunction and more the website for hims.com worth checking out that interview coming shortly but before that, make sure you're checking out menswear style.co.uk that's where we put all the articles including the Show Notes for this episode. If you want to get in touch with the show, maybe you want to come on and tell us your story. It's info at menswear. style.co.uk Okay. Here is that interview with Henry Allen, UK manager at hims. Well, it's my great pleasure to introduce today's guest, Henry Allen, General Manager at hims. How we're doing today, Henry. Really good. Thank you. It's a Thursday evening, the sun's out, pulling this up. We pop outside, spend a lot of time to go and have a drink. Excellent. Sounds wonderful. Me I want to open up and start with something very pertinent. Who is your favourite James Bond and your favourite James Bond film? This is an excellent question. And from that he knows a lot about this as well. Well, I am a huge Pierce Brosnan fan which would be controversial because everyone that scene obviously says Sean Connery is the definitive bond by like a special memory of watching GoldenEye the first time it came out. I mean, it was just the opening scene when you don't see bonds face and he's running across the dam and thought that swan dive over the dam. And he's charging down and it was just like such an incredible moment I was maybe nine or 10 when that came out. So one of my first ever some cinema going experiences and it really did sort of stick with me and you know, I obviously you know at that same time had GoldenEye the video game also in my life and it was just such a great such a great game. And you know it was it just everything about the film and the game and you know now I look back on it now like there's so much to enjoy about like 90s cinema and and you know the you know, it was you know, I love the Daniel Krieger as well and the gritty realism but you know, when you look back at 90s bond and some of the you know, the one liners in the ponds and the silliness, and the you know, the gadgets and all that sort of stuff, like it was, it was a huge amount of fun. So definitely GoldenEye for me. And even you know Pierce Brosnan because of that specific film, you know, some of the his latest stuff I didn't like as much. But yeah, controversial choice. Right? No right choice. seamlessly switching through the gears. Henry, would you mind give us an introduction to you, your journey and how you got to work for hims? Yeah, so I'm the general manager of hems, as you kindly alluded to in the introduction. hims is a men's wellness brand out of San Francisco. We're relatively new business. We're only founded in November 2017. But we've grown quite rapidly. In our first year of operations, we serviced over a million patients through an online consultation. So we've sort of clicked on a moment and connected with, you know, a need that had been under serviced in the US specifically around erectile dysfunction, medication, hair loss medications, skincare products. And that led to the company being interested in investing in new markets and the UK was quite a natural fit. You know, obviously, there's the language connection. But also, you know, it's a good sized population of fairly tech savvy people that are comfortable buying things online. And at the time, when, you know, hims, were going through the first rounds of funding, I was running another direct to consumer business, also selling you know, products in that medical space specifically was contact lenses. And I'd heard you know, when you're when you're, you know, an entrepreneur, you work in a space, you sort of keep your ear to the ground, and I'd heard about hims roaring success in the US going through the gears really quickly over there. And I I kind of felt that there was an opportunity to deploy the hims model in the UK. And so I contacted Andrew, the founder of the business and we had a couple of email exchanges. I was then connected to one of the co founders and we you know, spoke Continually over a three month period, until I think we all came to the conclusion that there was a good opportunity to bring the hems model out to the UK. And so I started working with them September 2018. And I've been with the business ever since. In 2018, you've you've now launched the UK model, and what are the things that lead up to that now? Do you with the the infrastructure of hims? What are the things that you have to put in place in order for hims to actually become open? Yeah, well, that's our core products are medications for erectile dysfunction, hair loss, and the promotion and sale of medications is pretty restricted in the UK, significantly more restricted that isn't us. And so why is it that? Well, I you know, I think, I think a number of factors behind it, but it's, I don't know, if you spent much time in the US but if you spend watch any daytime TV or or commercial TV whatsoever in the US, you'll notice that you do get a significant number of adverts for medications, and it's just down to the FDA, which is the US, US regulatory body, and the MH ra just having a different position on the promotion and sale of medication. And, you know, I I'm sure people from those bodies would give you a much more detailed explanation as to why that is the case. But I would say broadly, it's down to the fact that in the UK, we have a national health service that is, you know, predominantly the provider of most medications for most conditions and the provider of Healthcare Services. Whereas in the US, you have a much more privatised service whereby most, you know, about 49% of the country get their health care through insurance provided by their employer, you got Medicare, Medicaid. And I think it's just the fact that they just have fundamentally different healthcare services that require different regulatory approaches. And I guess it's just more healthcare is more of a business in the US than is in the UK. And you know, and there's a lengthy debate that can be had about the various merits of one system over the other but as a Brit, obviously I'm I prefer our model. Once you have the infrastructure in place, do you then how do you start selling the brand hims to the UK audience? Why should we we didn't retire Sorry, I skipped over the infrastructure piece. So we we you know, the the regulatory stuff is really concerns the promotion of it, as well as the dispensing from the pharmacy, there's two ways of running our model, you can vertically integrate, which essentially means that you build your own pharmacy, you hire own pharmacists, you buy the medications directly from the suppliers, or you can partner with an underground pharmacy, who will do all the dispensing the prescribing component, all that sort of stuff for you. hims, as you know, up until very recently preferred the latter. And that sort of echoed across a number of other areas of our business, we actually have a very small stock setting, the size of the business is just over 100 people, which considering the number of customers we have is is absolutely tiny, and we tend to push no specialist skills, be it at home marketing, podcast marketing, you know, anything else, including prescribing and pharmacy operations, all that sort of stuff to specialists, whether that is starting to change now. And for that reason for our long standing preference. For the latter, I outsourcing those services, we decided to partner with a pharmacy here on the ground, who kind of understand the regulatory challenge that I already alluded to understand, you know, some of the complications about purchasing and holding medication about how to appropriately prescribe and dispense. So, you know, we partnered with, you know, pharmacy here in the UK, we partnered with doctors network whose primary businesses providing consultations, either video conference or asynchronous consultations with private insurers. So they work with like booper, and companies like that. So they used to this sort of model. And so setting that up, you know, took a bit of time I travelled up and down the country made a lot, a lot of different pharmacies from these huge, huge ones, that tiny little ones that you know, essentially just in the tiny room, and then looking at supply chain for, you know, things like packaging and leaflets. And by the way, Oh, thank you. Yeah, thank you. That that took a long time, but I'm really proud of the outcome. And so, you know, things like that, the nuts and bolts, but we're able to do that relatively quickly, you know, for I was sort of hired in September, and we were sort of ready to go from early January. But in the end, we decided not to launch until the end of January for a number of other reasons. You think the accessibility that you have for your website and how people can enter their profile, and then get responses from physicians speak with, you know, experts, you kind of lends itself to the actual treatments as well. So I like these kind of difficult subjects for men or typically quite hard subjects for them to talk about openly, but then this gives them that well that access to actually get opinions from from people without having to kind of go and have that physical meeting. No, totally, totally get it. I mean, I think there's there's three components that I think are important to consumer. One is like discretion, like these are, you know, Brits especially, and I consider myself to be in this category are kind of prudish about these sort of things, like, you know, we will certainly not used to being having these some open conversations about erectile dysfunction and hair loss. And, you know, it's sort of things that, you know, take a couple of drinks, and he just sort of start to open up and discuss, and even then, I think it's subsequently something that people are very reluctant to open up about. And so I think we've tried to create like a safe space for men to sort of discover information around these products, we have an enormous library of content around the subject. So people can come to the site, they can try and understand a little bit more about the condition trying to, you know, understand whether or not it's appropriate for them. And then if they've, you know, get to that place where they are comfortable, they can discreetly enter their information into the platform, and they can work out if a product that we offer is appropriate for them. So I think all of that some stuff is super important. And we found as well in the US that, you know, customers didn't really like having, you know, quite loud packaging. And so you'll notice it's quite pared back, it's quite minimal. So when when a package comes through the door, it's hard to even identify that it's from us, like we do put a little h in the corner. So the customer has some sense of what it is. But you know, it's very discreet. And we found that's what the customer wants, you know, and I think also, we see that, like 8788 89% of orders come through mobile devices, which pieces again, like people have slept looking at it in, you know, maybe that's just partly consumed behaviours have evolved, but also partly because they don't necessary want to have on a big open screen and in public display. Yeah, it could be a combination of those factors. So I'm 40. And I remember a time when, like, you wouldn't be able to get something like viagara, excessively like this, you know, you'd actually have to physically go see a doctor. I mean, nowadays, it's a little bit more accessible, just even over the counter. Is that right? So what are the laws that have kind of changed or fluctuated around the same sort of time that you were putting this together as a product for people? Yeah, well, in the US, there was a big inflection point, because viagara, which is the brand name for sildenafil, the pattern that expired a couple of years back. And so that is part of the reason why hims, the company saw a massive opportunity to make what is a very effective product that has been treating men with erectile dysfunction effectively for decades, available to the mass market and take a hammer down on price. Whereas once upon a time in the US, you were paying like $100 for the medication, you had to pay a copay, which is essentially a deductible on your insurance pan. And then you'd have to pay like the fee for going to see the doctor as well, it could cost you a couple of hundred dollars, if not more, to get access to education. It's insane, right? Like we were able to provide that service and that product at a massive reduction. And that created a huge opportunity. It was a real game changer in the US. In the UK, what we've seen is the regulations have started to relax because access to product was so constricted, that it led to a significant black market appearing for these products and people were buying them from the dark web, these sort of dodgy dodgy sites, I think in 2017, the MHL re confiscated about 17 and a half million pounds worth of counterfeit Viagra. And so I think they realised that there was a lot of demand for these products. But consumers were struggling to get access. And so they initially soften the regulations around viagara Connect, which is like a specific dosage of the brand name product. And recently, our partner manufacturer have had their their version of Agra that sildenafil, it's called, has also been declassified, it's not gone to full. OTC it's now classified as a pharmacy medication. And what that means is that it allows us to much more effectively promote the product, it makes it easier for customers get access to the product. It allows us to be a little bit more competitive on price as well. And so I think that's why you're seeing this like sudden surge in interest and product and why people are becoming more aware of our brands and we're seeing a huge influx influx into customers specifically during Coronavirus as well, I've only just thought of this and I'll just pitch it over to you, Henry. But having like these conditions or these discipline, I mean, I don't know if you call them disabilities. I wouldn't call it a disability. Yes. How would you frame it? I just think it's a very run of the mill everyday condition that a lot of men You know, reach a certain point in their life, like, you know, the statistics on it are, are pretty staggering, like, you know, I think it's something like one in four men over 35 are going to be, you know, going to experience it. And you know, and it's just something that for whatever reason culturally of society, like we just don't talk about. And so it's just something you know that there are many things that happen to us as we guess we get weather and all that stuff. But for whatever reason, this is one that people don't feel comfortable about. So I just think it's like, I just think of it as an everyday normal condition. And, and I hope that through having this conversation with you, and like, you know, other bits and pieces that we're doing as a business, we can try and, like make people aware that like, this is just nothing to be ashamed of, but there's a very effective medication out there that will fix this for you. And it's safe, it's existed for decades. But it's now just a bit much more readily available. And if it's something that you struggle with, or it bothers you, then we'll tackle if it doesn't bother you, that's fine. You know, it's not, we're not for you, and that's fine. So what was it I was gonna get on to it is that it really, it gives you the subtext of who a person is, as well. I mean, it has so many ramifications, that if you're a person that is struggling with this, it affects your day to day life, it affects your competence, it affects your relationships. And, you know, a lot of people that suffer from this might actually just have functional relationships outside of intimacy, yet their heart might not even know what they're going through kind of on the inside, male pattern baldness, and you know, and things like that, that really does affect dudes on the inside that they don't really know how to externalise it. And they don't really know how to communicate even with other guys that might be going through or could be going through the same problems. So just having something like this, like a little portal, could just be the lifeboat that people need. Yeah, I mean, I totally agree. I totally agree, I think everything you just said perfectly encapsulates what we're all about. And, and what we're very passionate about. I mean, there is a, you know, again, hairless is just a genetic thing. Like, it's, you know, there's all sorts of these urban myths out there that exist about what causes it. And they you know, that all nonsense, it's just either you're genetically predisposed to it or you're not. And, and, you know, our products are quite effective at, at really sort of pushing it back, delaying it, and giving a fighting chance against it anyway. And I don't want to pretend that I'm a percent of customers that take our products are going to see a massive, overnight increase, because that's just not how it works. But if you stick with the product for three to six month period, in most cases, you'll see at least, like at worst a plateau in of your hair loss. And at best, you're going to see regrowth, which is obviously, you know, huge for people's confidence, because it you know, it can be damaging, I listen to a previous obviously, I can't see you I know the listener doesn't know that I can't see you. But I've listened to a previous podcast to prep that science done that you've lost your hair. So I'd be interested in your own experience of losing hair and how that affected you. Oh, well listen, I mean, effected me during my 20s. I mean, and it was the worst kind as well, because it kind of just went on for so long. I mean, I don't know what the regular timeframe is for people losing their hair, I kind of wish it, you know, I woke up and didn't have any hair like I do now. And then I could just go from A to B. But I had this process where I was spinning out from the top kind of outwards, which left us with this kind of little weird Island at the front of it little novel here. And then it just kind of everything slowly detaches. But so I was in a band at the time. And we were kind of touring up and down the country. And I was disguising and just trying to hide away in the background, it really affected my confidence. You know, I'll be wearing hats throughout the entire gig. And then after a gig, you know, it'll be backstage and we'd be partying, and then I would be actually just afraid to take off my hat because then people would go Oh, okay, you lose, but to lose your hair quite young. I mean, it's like, I mean, early 20s, just at the age where you're trying to get a grasp of who you are and your own identity and how you can kind of, you know, figure out what life is you then have to try and negotiate this in your back of them in the back of your mind. And I was I actually went to clinics, I remember going to a place on Harley Street and getting some medicine to try and deal with this in tablet form and it didn't have any effect. I then tried you know, other medicine that you can kind of buy it boots, and then sneaking off it weird weird times, like even during I remember doing sound checks and then going right guys, I've actually got to go and leave the soundcheck now because we're going to the bathroom and put all this crap in my hair and come back and put a cap on. And so it's it's not something that you just kind of think oh, you just check yourself out in the mirror and go oh, I'm just losing it. It kind of affects you at every part of your day. Yeah, I mean, it's so interesting here experience I think like we see that a lot from the majority, like a large chunk of our customers have sort of gone through this. You know, I think a lot of people go through this sort of period of denial and and that's tricky because like really, really it is the case. You need to take action, the more effective the product has the chance of tackling it. And it is interesting, it is such a, like, a difficult thing to come to terms with because, you know, it feels like this inexorable March and there's not much you can do about it. And, you know, I hope that our customers are taking our products, you know, it is it is so comforting, and it helps them with their confidence, and it helps them feel better. And it sounds like you know, you tried a few things, to try and tackle it and didn't have success. And that probably created more frustration. And so I you know, I hope why providing a lot of education around the specific products that we offer. And you know, and giving people realistic projections on how long they how long they need to continue to take the product and not just see a benefit. That and also access to doctors to ask questions around around the product and the condition that that we provide some comfort to people that are struggling with this issue. Yeah, it's a mad, it was a bad time in my life when you're also single. And so you're kind of going through this alone, and then you move into the era of Facebook, I remember Facebook coming along, and then all of a sudden, your faces now online, you then have to move into areas of online dating, and then you still have to kind of figure out how best to present yourself, you kind of in that halfway mark of losing it, but keeping it you know, it was a it was a weird time, and I don't ever, ever want to go back to it. Yeah, no. I mean, again, it's interesting, you know, to hear your perspective on it, because, you know, it's, it's, you know, again, it just speaks to some of the issues that men do struggle with, when they're going through this. And again, like, you know, it's just, I don't want to pretend this as some sort of miracle cure, like you magic beans, you put in your hair, and all of a sudden, you're gonna sort of, it's gonna, you're gonna have incredibly long locks. But if you stick with it, and, you know, and and you take a tape out over a period of time, like it has shown to be effective. And so, you know, hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, people continue to see success with it. And we continue to grow audiences of men with the product and, and we can do, you know, add more products and keep keep, keep, keep helping men that struggle, this condition. I'd be interested to get your thoughts on if you've seen any change in trends or habits, the confidence of men, you know, in regards to these health matters, have they kind of applied themselves differently? Have they learned to get a sense of humour about it? Or if they, you know, I mean, as it is it still like in the old times where I was fretting over everything, or men become a little bit more relaxed in how they approaches? I think, again, you're actually right, like the company's enemy going since November 2017. And I have to be honest, like, you know, over the last three months or so, like there be much bigger, wider societal changes in front of mine, but the double whammy of Coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter movement. So I think it's hard to to go back into the pre Coronavirus mindset and think about the little nuances about, you know, how, how confident men are. I also think like, you know, we're a men's brand, you know, that has launched in the middle like of like a slightly different movement where women are becoming more empowered, we have a sister brand called hers, which sort of treats women's issues in a similar manner. And I think that is probably where I've seen more widespread societal change specifically in the US, which is where, where, where, where the access to medication is a lot more of a challenge for women than it is here in the UK. So I think, I'm not really noticing, like significant, you know, behavioural patterns in the UK, certainly in the US, like, I would say, it speaks to, like, the enormous success that our business has been in the US is, is testament to the fact that men are clearly comfortable, you know, addressing the issue and getting access to their medications. But in the UK, I think it's still a little bit too early. And I think we're still a little bit too early for brands, you know, to speak with authority about these wide, you know, massive, massive cultural shift. But, you know, I hope I hope that you know, as we continue to become more of a presence in market and as we continue to sort of grow our audience and grow our user base that we can start out to sort of lead on this front and educate people to change in terms of access and, and, and just a different way of doing things here in the UK. Well, talking about COVID-19 you've got a saliva test product on your on your website. Do you mind just telling us a little bit about that as obviously quite timely. Yeah, remember that's only available in the US and it's not something we are looking to roll out to the UK yet. Again, it's, it's a question of access, like in the US. They don't have the same access to medications in this instance coronavirus test that we we do in the UK. I mean, I'm sure some people are probably scoffing thinking like they can't get a test for love nor money, but I think we've seen company Try and provide private Coronavirus tests specifically I'm thinking of like recently with Superdrug and that there are there are others and they've been sort of pulled by the government. And I think that this is such a sensitive moment that I really feel like much more comfortable with the government hand handling this and I certainly don't want to get into the for profit Coronavirus test game. And in the US or the eight you know, we do offer these products at cost. But I think it's a little bit of a minefield to get into and I really do feel like in this instance, because of the fact we have a nationalised health service and because access to doctors, NASA, etc. Isn't isn't as restricted as in the US that where we're best place leaving us with with the UK Government and trusting Well, that's sorted out. Yeah. Well, good. Good to know, for hims calm is the website that I'm looking at right now. And I say the products of course, and the packaging is very minimalist, and you've got all the heavy hitters on here. I mean, I wish you guys were around 15 years ago when I was suffering from stage fright needed. Actually, you got the you got the four aces, you got the skincare products, and the erectile dysfunction I could have done with like a whole gift bags here. Yeah, so you're actually on the you're on the US side, the the UK side is code at UK and we have a much more pared back portfolio of products. But we will be expanding that that imminently, actually, we have, I think it's like 13 different products in the hopper that we will be launching at the right moment. Again, like in this current climate, it's not, you know, we're not necessarily looking to widely promote things that are not, you know, of the moment and our you know, it could be perceived to be insensitive, etc. And so we will be sort of increasing our portfolio of products for that for the.co.uk site. But certainly in the US, like, you know, you can infer from looking at that sort of products that are coming to the UK pretty soon. And, you know, I think the idea that you know, right, it's a really broad suite of products that can have, you know, servicemen suffering from all sorts of different issues, from beer anxiety to sleep issues to you know, you've already mentioned the big ones erectile dysfunction and hair loss. And you know, the skincare products we offer in the US prescription as well. So they're not stuff you can just wander into boots and get it sort of contain nuclear grade stuff. And it's a lot stronger than you would get in any more boots and therefore more effective at treating more persistent skin issues like adult acne and things like that. Oh, boy, wherever you guys. Well, we do have a strong American audience, I'm sure that they'll take advantage or at least find their way to the website and investigate the brands. The products themselves. Listen, Henry, thanks so much for taking time out of your day to speak to us. No worries. Thank you for having me. Henry Alan there. Thank you, Henry. Remember the website for hims.com is a place you can go. Also check out menswear style.co.uk that's where we'll put all the show notes. And thanks for sticking with us. Wow, that was another great episode. Make sure you're reviewing us on iTunes. If you're liking what you hear. I do read the reviews. I read them all and they are wonderful. In the meantime, until next time, remember it's only fashion people and you're never fully dressed without a smile.