How Touchland Transformed Hand Sanitizer Into a Beauty Product and Became a Staple for Businesses & Consumers [Case Study]
May 29, 2021
Learn how Touchland disrupted the hand sanitizer market, navigated unprecedented demand during COVID, became a must-have product for businesses of all sizes, and leveraged ShipBob to scale.
- 2018: Started working with ShipBob
- 34,000 customers waitlisted from increase in demand during first weeks of COVID
- 700 orders per day during early COVID
- 10,000 large KUB dispensers sold during early COVID
While the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred popularity for a variety of health products — from supplements and stationary bikes, to face masks and disinfecting wipes — one that really stands out is hand sanitizer.
And while everyone from distilleries to oil companies tried to jump on the hand sanitizer bandwagon, one brand got a head start in revolutionizing this essential product years before the pandemic hit.
Touchland has been recognized by Allure as a Best of Beauty award winner, named as a finalist for Fast Company’s 2020 Innovation by Design Awards, and included on countless other ‘best of’ lists. Unlike many companies, Touchland was not just opportunistic with COVID but deeply ingrained in the space beforehand.
And Touchland isn’t your typical drugstore hand sanitizer — there’s a reason it’s gone viral on TikTok (with over 10 million likes), is seen all over Instagram, and is becoming a staple across businesses of all sizes.
Its ultra-sleek design fits perfectly in pockets and purses, and comes in appealing scents, ranging from Aloe Vera and Watermelon to Lavender and Vanilla Cinnamon. Touchland’s hydrating and moisturizing formula can be used multiple times per day without drying or cracking your hands.
Outside of leaving a fresh, hydrating feeling in your hands, their signature Kub is a hand sanitizer dispenser trusted by consumers and major companies alike, including Equinox, Four Seasons, and Ritz Carlton.
Similar to the ‘Nest’ app for your home, Touchland’s hardware and app work to self-monitor sanitizing refill levels and alert you as refills and battery life require your attention.
We sat down with Touchland’s Founder & CEO, Andrea Lisbona, to learn how her brand shook up the hand sanitizer market.
Establishing hand sanitizer as a beauty product
As told to ShipBob by Andrea Lisbona, Founder & CEO of Touchland.
80% of infectious diseases spread through germs via hand transmission. Hand sanitizer is such an important preventative measure, but it used to be that all solutions were gels, sticky, or smelled like vodka. And if you were lucky enough to come across a sanitizing dispenser in public, 99% of the time it was empty.
That’s why we created high-quality, moisturizing hand sanitizers that include aloe vera, essential oils, and other high-performance natural ingredients along with Denatured Ethyl Alcohol in order to kill germs without leaving hands dry or sticky, along with the smart technology in our Kub dispenser, which lets you know when it’s time for a refill or to charge its batteries.
In 2018, I launched a Kickstarter campaign for Touchland. In 24 hours, we got 150% funded and went on to raise 450% of our original goal from more than 1,300 backers. After the campaign ended, we launched our ecommerce store and went on to surpass $1 million in sales that year.
We were already growing quickly when COVID began, then we completely sold out the first week of the pandemic. In three weeks, more than 34,000 customers were waitlisted on Touchland.com. We even did pre-orders to try and meet demand. Between March and May 2020, we had up to 700 orders per day and sold 10,000 dispensers to industry-leading brands in those three months.
COVID changed the mentality of hand sanitation for most businesses, and this won’t go away after the pandemic. You used to only see hand sanitizer dispensers at the doctor’s office, but now every business needs them. We’ve even seen a shift in the way hand sanitizer is sold amongst consumers. People used to buy it for themselves, but now it’s a common gift, even for weddings.
Driving organic growth through network effects
Touchland has become successful without spending many marketing dollars. We have technology to measure conversion on social media to determine network effects, and we’ve found that 30 people will buy our product because one person bought it and converted everyone they know.
We have not spent a dollar on paid collaboration, just gifted our product to influencers and celebrities — though we’ve had a lot of celebrities organically endorse it, including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kris Jenner, Naomi Campbell, and many others.
Not only that, but celebrity makeup artists will often introduce the product to other celebrities.
The key to working with influencers is being authentic. We also did a lot of work collaborating beauty bloggers who had never reviewed a hand sanitizer before on how our product is actually a skincare product.
The micro-influencer strategy has worked well for us, but we don’t pay anyone to review our product, including pay-to-play press opportunities. While we can’t control the messaging this way, I think it makes it more authentic. And what’s telling about this approach is that we’ve had over 2,000 collaboration requests in a single year.
The key to success is not one single thing but a puzzle of everything working together, including great customer service. We are trying to own this beauty niche, and previously there was no hand sanitizer company that did social well — they relied on selling in pharmacies.
As for our go-to tech stack, Google Analytics is by far the most under-utilized tool in ecommerce. We use it daily to understand consumer patterns and feed our growth, web, ads, and creative teams with real-time insight into funnel conversions, consumer archetype behavior, consumer interaction behavior, and channel index rates.
Klaviyo is by far the best ESP — it is our source for all automations, which allows us to convert more shoppers, retain more customers, and ultimately provide a better experience for long-term brand loyalty. Their data management system is outstanding.
We also use Google Optimize as our experimentation tool of choice. It allows us to run A-B and multivariate experiments in order to determine and provide the best experience for our customers and our business goals.
Working with the right 3PL to fulfill demand
Touchland has been working with ShipBob since 2018 and there are several reasons why ShipBob has been the perfect partner.
First of all, their speed to scale and fast pick, pack, and ship process has been seamless, as our business grew 1,200% in a couple of weeks.
Second of all, their locations across the US — Touchland sells flammable goods that need to be shipped via ground, so ShipBob has been a great ally as they have fulfillment centers all over the US, facilitating a 2-3 day delivery time for any customer in the US.
This is helpful especially when weather challenges happen; being able to have different locations to ship from allows for a more seamless supply chain.
Overall, we have had a great experience having a ShipBob as a partner that can scale fast with us, paired with their advanced software that helps us quickly understand shipping costs and how to improve shipping times and costs by being closer to where our customers are.
Giving back to the community
During the very beginning of the pandemic, we were tagged on instagram by a teacher who had our product in her classroom. Her message touched our hearts and we started shipping dispensers to K-12 public schools to help teachers and students go back to school in a safe way. In addition to the teachers campaign, we supported frontline public health workers during the first peak of the pandemic.
Similarly, we invest in social initiatives that we value, for example, in developing countries where kids die from diseases that stem from a lack of proper sanitation. In 2017, we started sending our product through NGOs to educate developing communities on hand hygiene.
We don’t share these initiatives very publicly, as we don’t want people to think we are doing it to get more sales or for marketing purposes. But water scarcity will also continue to be a growing global problem, so we want to create awareness for that while creating something sustainable.
Doubling down on B2B
We partnered with ULTA when our brand was one-year old, and it’s been a great partnership. We work with other retailers too, but most recently our sales have exploded not just for online DTC orders but we’ve also seen a lot of B2B growth.
People will buy our product for themselves or their home and then want to introduce it into their corporate environment or workplace, whether it’s for a small office or large enterprise including Equinox, Sweetgreen, and SpaceX. We try to segment out corporate email addresses from our ecommerce store and push those people to our business portal.
While our Instagram and Facebook ads are directed toward consumers, our customers are often decision makers for a business. There can be a gray area in knowing which use case someone is buying for, but we want to get it right since we have different funnels and approaches in how we cultivate loyalty, enable repeat purchases, and market to DTC vs. B2B customers.
What’s next for Touchland?
We will continue to expand in the US market and eventually expand our international capacity. Our team of 12 now will grow really fast this year, as we scale quickly and build out and invest in community and brand ambassadorship.
We will also launch new scents and new formulations in the coming months, as requested by our long-time customers and by partnering with a top manufacturer to create these scents.
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