Seven years ago, a pregnant Jessica Alba tested a popular mild baby detergent and broke out in a rash. Having been plagued with asthma and other issues that required repeated hospitalizations as a child, she may have been especially sensitized to problems that might afflict her unborn baby. Alba also had noticed the rise of autism rates and ADHD among children in recent years.
The difference Lee and Alba want to make with Honest is straightforward: To build a giant consumer brand that makes products that are safer for the people who use them as well as safer for the environment. To get there, Honest has taken a hybrid approach to distribution that is becoming more common in the e-commerce industry: A foundation in digital sales coupled with a presence in brick-and-mortar stores.
“We never started the company with the intention of only being an e-commerce brand,” Lee said.
The company now gets 30 percent of sales from brick-and-mortar stores, including Whole Foods and Target. The remainder comes from online sales, and more than 60 percent of those digital sales come from monthly subscriptions of multi-product bundles.
Honest began with diapers, baby wipes and cleaning products and expanded to soaps, shampoos and sunscreens. The company recently began selling baby formula and women’s deodorant too, and Lee says Honest will introduce a line of feminine care products later this year.
Most of The Honest Co.’s business comes from its website, which has drawn some complaints from consumers who signed up for free samples and automatically were enrolled for monthly deliveries, then found it difficult to drop the service. The Better Business Bureau has logged 30 complaints since the launch. Alba and Gavigan say customer service now is improved; the bureau currently gives the company an A-minus rating.
Makes you wonder is this company going to be stronger than Johnson vs Johnson?