This Unique: Tackling a Taboo Subject Through the Subscription Box Model
The John Cabot University Institute for Entrepreneurship welcomed Vincenzo Mansi (CEO and Founder) and Lisa Iannello (CPO and Co-founder) from This Unique, for a talk called “Tackling a Taboo Subject Through the Subscription Box Model,” on October 28, 2021. The lecture was held in the context of Professor Silvia Pulino’s Introduction to Entrepreneurship class.
This Unique is a startup that provides customizable feminine hygiene products and aims to destigmatize the period taboo. Iannello explained that in Italy 21 million women get their period every month and that altogether they use 500 million sanitary pads. Given that the majority of sanitary pads are not biodegradable, the environment is negatively impacted by them. One of the pillars of This Unique is the fact that their sanitary products are compostable and entirely made of organic materials.
Moreover, This Unique has revolutionized the buying experience as it allows customers to order the products online and customize their boxes. “We are like the Netflix of pads,” said Iannello of their subscription model. She explained that customers choose what products to put in their box, sync the delivery with their menstrual cycle, all while maintaining the freedom to cancel their subscription, pause it, or skip as many months as they like. The price for a subscription box ranges from 7 to 20 euros per month, depending on what products the customer chooses. As for other products related to period wellness, such as oils or herbal teas, the price for one box can go from 12 to 30 euros.
According to Iannello, This Unique’s customers are mostly millennials. She believes that the reason for this is that they’re more conscientious customers and tend to look for more eco-friendly and tailored experiences. In addition, they seem to appreciate the fact that This Unique discusses topics that are considered taboos with a direct language and no shame. Lastly, millennials seem to appreciate the digitalization of the buying experience for hygiene products.
Iannello explained that This Unique’s acquisition funnel is based on awareness (ads, word of mouth, etc.), consideration (customer care, discounts, etc.), conversion (e-commerce, subscriptions, etc.), referral (family pack, loyalty club, etc.), and retention (retargeting campaigns, customer dialogue, etc.). “The community is the key driver. It has created an ecosystem that is engaged via social value,” Iannello explained. She added that when new members join the community, they tend to engage with the brand, they understand the benefits, and buy the products or upgrade to a subscription. Thirty percent of This Unique’s revenues are organic.
Created in January 2021, by April 2021 This Unique had sold 750 trial boxes and its community reached 5,000 people. By August 2021, the company had started free collaborations with influencers, activists, and businesses, it delivered over 5,000 orders, and the community grew to include 20,000 members. This Unique is committed to being an environmentally friendly startup, and it is focusing on four of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, namely the first (no poverty), the third (good health and well-being), the fifth (gender equality), and the twelfth (responsible consumption).
Professor Pulino said that the founders of This Unique provide a great example of an entrepreneurial mindset, as they managed to find a gap in the market and come up with a creative solution.