Treatwell breaks with in-house model to nail TV and target the male market

‘The brighter way to book beauty’ by Grow@Mindshare

Online booking platform Treatwell has kept creative planning in-house for the majority of its decade in business. But for its biggest-ever integrated campaign – and its first foray into the male grooming market – chief marketing officer Inés Ures found she needed the support of an agency to nail TV.

The latest campaign from Treatwell is dubbed ‘The brighter way to book beauty’. With creative spanning TV, video on demand, out-of-home, social and digital, the brand has “never before done an integrated campaign like this”, according to Ures, who had the task of rolling out the colourful work across 11 European markets in several different languages.

It was TV, however that was the biggest challenge for the CMO and her team of primarily digital marketers. Despite being a product of the online age – and highly prizing personalisation and targeting in its marketing strategy – Treatwell still regards TV as an important pipeline when it comes to consumer acquisition and perception. Yet aside from a small campaign in its original guise of Wahanda, the brand has had very little experience in the space. This is largely due to the limitations of an in-house team.

“We’re a company that’s used to doing everything in-house because our marketing is very content led ... and the beauty industry requires new content very often,” Ures told The Drum. “On a general basis we don’t hire agencies. But we’d never done TV properly before and we needed to find a partner that we can learn from and with.”

Treatwell chose not to work with a traditional ATL agency and instead opted for Grow@Mindshare, WPP's 'specialist entity' designed to help startups and businesses at the 'early stages of marketing'. The Treatwell account is the shop’s first full-service win; alongside fomulating the creative it has also planned and executed the campaign’s media.

It wasn’t an obvious choice of agency for Treatwell, which, with a staff base of 500, can no longer reasonably count itself as a startup. But it was the flexibility of Grow’s team that led Treatwell to hand over the ‘seven-figure investment’ to the Mindshare offshoot.

“Although Grow is part of a big group it behaves more like a startup, which is very good for us,” said Ures. “It’s super interesting to have an agency doing [creative as well as media] because they have the motivation to make creative that performs, so we can put more money into the media."

She’s clear that in-house is still the best option for the brand, however. “We are not giving more creative to them,” she stressed. “We see agencies is as innovation partners that help with things we don’t know how to do.”

What Men Want

‘The brighter way to book beauty’ is also Treatwell’s biggest campaign in terms of target market. For the first time it is directly targeting male audiences with offers such as ‘a trim and a shave’ from its partner salons.

It’s a good, albeit popular time to start taking men seriously as beauty industry consumers. L’Oreal is bringing its men’s grooming brand Baxter of California from the US to Europe, direct-to-consumer shaving brands have turned heads at the likes of Unilever and Nivea has recently launched its first male body shaving range. But it was a lack of understanding, not foresight, that put the brakes on Treatwell cashing in on men’s grooming at an earlier stage.

“Until now, I was like, ‘We don’t even understand women, so how can we start targeting men?’,” she said. “Our core audience is women between 28 and 45 who can afford to pay for regular treatments to beautify themselves – but it took us two years to get that right, to get the messaging right, to get the creative right. Now we think that the male audience is something we understand a bit better.”

After several focus groups and rounds of research, Treatwell arrived at the insight that men have a propensity to become loyal, repeat customers who are looking to rebook the same treatments at the same providers. This is in contrast to women, who “want more inspiration”.

Luckily the app has recently been adapted to promote rebooking. But when Treatwell originally launched as Wahanda it pushed a discounting message to compete with platforms such as Groupon and Living Social. “It was not the right decision,” admitted Ures.

Now, she believes it will take “about one year to figure out how to speak to men” effectively, but this campaign, with its colour palette of greens and blues in lieu of pinks, is a good place to start. She’s unsure, however, whether the male consumers will ever be as vital to the business as their female counterparts.

“My intuition tells me the male market will never be as big, however I believe they will be more loyal,” she explained. “I think the return on investment from acquisition cost will be better than women – as long as our CRM communications are designed in a way that will help them rebook.”

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