How Vegamour turned its ‘unethical’ marketing outcry into a global vegan hair brand
A hair growth brand set up as a protest against the ‘unethical’ marketing practices of fast moving consumer goods giants, it has grown its revenue by over 3300%, expanded into the UK and counts Nicole Kidman as a major investor.
Vegamour founder Dan Hodgdon with investor Nicole Kidman
Chief executive officer Dan Hodgdon founded the vegan hair growth brand Vegamour after being outraged by big corporations misleading consumers. Initially conceived as a case study to prove to beauty conglomerates that you can be profitable and actually bottle up the stuff you claim to be selling, Vegamour is now a serious brand in the clean hair care category.
The former farmer and chemist started selling his ingredients to major FMCG companies, but was left puzzled when the orders didn’t stack up with the company’s production run. “I know how many units you are making and what you are buying from me, so that means you are using 0.02% of them. But you have these huge, big pictures of that ingredient on your bottle,” Hodgdon says.
“It doesn’t have any ethics, and then you realize they are just doing it for marketing reasons.”
Hodgdon conducted a series of clinical studies and went back to the brand owners with new formulas with a higher percentage of ingredients, but also with math that could still make them profitable. He claims they rebuffed his offer and replied: “Yep, that’s great, but that’s not our model – we need to think about economics.”
“[Vegamour] was a case study to show to the big guys that you could be profitable. It never was meant to be this big brand,” he says.
Since launching as an e-commerce brand in 2016, Vegamour is now in over 400 Sephora stores globally and has plans to start growing its own brick-and-mortar retail business. In 2021 the company picked up $80m in funding from the growth equity firm General Atlantic, and in May actress Nicole Kidman came on board as an investor and partner.
In the summer, the US-based company entered the UK market with a dedicated D2C site. The launch campaign combined press and influencer marketing that focused on proving the effectiveness of the products. This was largely through hair trials for press and virtual panels.
The brand has already gained the attention of the UK press, featuring on The Evening Standard’s beauty radar list, The Telegraph’s best haircare brand you’ve never heard of and British Vogue’s best eyebrow growth serums list.
When entering a new market, Hodgdon says the best channel has been TikTok, describing it as vital to challenge misinformation and pseudo-science that is “rife” about hair growth solutions on social media.
Vegamour’s TikTok strategy is about “equipping consumers with sound knowledge when dealing with issues as sensitive as hair loss,” Hodgdon explains. The brand partners with dermatologists, nutritionists and hair stylists to deliver accurate guidance to consumers.
While there is already a strong consumer demand for clean beauty, Hodgdon says it’s only just being expanded into hair care.
“The consumer is smart today. They’ve already started demanding clean products and [brands have] already made that pivot – begrudgingly, because it’s more expensive,” he says.
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Vegamour hair products start from £18, with their most expensive being £57. High-street hair growth products range from £7-£10, but high-end hair loss treatments from competitors such as Living Proof, Briogeo or Ouai carry similar price ranges.
The next phase of clean beauty though, according to Hodgdon, is that consumers are going to start to demand better performance, not just an eco-friendly product for the sake of being eco. “It has to do something and not just be a marketing claim. As the customer becomes more educated, they will start voting with their pockets,” Hodgdon concludes.