We talk a lot about Influencers and Community in retail today, but we’re typically talking about a retail brand trying to develop Influencers or create Community. But Truth In Aging has turned this concept upside down. What started out as a Community for women over 40 to share insights on beauty products has developed into a successful commerce operation.
While this may sound like an inspiration story only for startups and entrepreneurs, it includes lessons for all brands. The most important lesson is to be passionate about the brand mission, then the rest will fall into place.
Truth In Aging Founder Marta Wohrle just wanted to create a forum for women over 40 to uncover the best beauty products. She was inspired by the fact that this age group, in her opinion, had been largely ignored by the beauty industry. So she set out to build a forum where women curate their own commerce experience.
“These women were not served by the Internet; the VCs and investors were not looking at them as an attractive demographic,” said Wohrle. “To me they were a white space that really needed to be served. These women have money to spend, want to take care of themselves, want to grow old healthfully. They needed good information around anti-aging beauty products that just wasn’t there in the mainstream media.”
As the Community grew and the enthusiasm strengthened, “We eventually saw what the business model was: to sell the products they (the Community) wanted,” Wohrle explained. “They are curating their own commerce experience. A lot of retailers come at it the other way around. The way that I did it was slower in terms of building a retail business but it is most certainly a solid foundation from which to build a community and an archive of content.” To date, the site features more than 10,000 in-depth articles created by Community members and Truth In Aging editors.
With the strength of the Community behind its product success, Truth In Aging is able to get ahead of dropping sales. “We sell other people’s products using the Community as a weathervane of what works and what doesn’t work,” Wohrle explained. “We have that extra level of enthusiasm and engagement — so we can tell what’s sinking before we get to the sales numbers sinking. We remove products very quickly.
Once the curated business took off, Wohrle began creating Truth In Aging branded products, which seemed to be a natural progression for the business. “When you think about a small business being in the manufacturing business as well, it’s an expensive process, but we’ve made it less expensive, de-risked it by using the Community as an R&D pool.”
While starting a business from the Community up may be a slower approach to commerce, it has proven to be a solid business case for Truth In Aging, which currently is reporting Average Order Value (AOV) of more than $400.