Haeckels - Developing Loyalty and Connection with the Destination

Haeckles promote a more sustainable cosmetic industry but also aims to raise awareness about the natural wealth of the local environment.

Founded in 2012 by Dom Bridges, a volunteer beach warden and based in the coastal town of Margate, not far from the DTTT HQ, Haeckels produces sustainable, responsible, natural and locally-sourced skincare products, with a strong bond with the place.

Founded in 2012 by Dom Bridges, a volunteer beach warden and based in the coastal town of Margate, not far from the DTTT HQ, Haeckels produces sustainable, responsible, natural and locally-sourced skincare products, with a strong bond with the place.

Through these products, Haeckels not only wants to promote a more sustainable cosmetic industry but also aims to raise awareness about the natural wealth of the local environment where the company sources its ingredients.

Through its products, the company is also playing an active role in promoting the local area as a tourism destination, 'making a noise' about what is great in every place from where the natural ingredients are responsibly picked.

The small company sells its products both in-store in Margate as well as online, where it has rapidly grown into a successful e-commerce thanks to the strong storytelling around its sustainable products.

Haeckels is a celebration of Margate, showcasing what's on offer in terms of the natural environment, but I think as it grows is also about celebrating the whole English coast. There is real beauty there, so many beautiful things that we take for granted. People will come here, people want that. - Dom Bridges, founder

A unique philosophy supporting the product

At Haeckels, natural products represent only the tip of the iceberg, as behind them lies a unique philosophy. The company is not simply producing cosmetics but through them, it wants to promote sustainable and inclusive values.

Haeckel sums up its philosophy as follows:

  • Focus on manufacturing the most effective natural products.
  • Respect all and neglect none.
  • Share all, create debate.
  • Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the worlds ocean crisis.

These values are aligned and support the mission of the company: "From the ocean for the ocean": Haeckel's doesn't consider itself as a simple product manufacturer but as an "ocean farming" company, where natural products are a means to preserve the environment.

It doesn't matter where you are in the universe, as long as what you do is good. You can do it anywhere, even in a town where everyone has given up to. We want to make it right here. We want to make a point that this is home." - Dom Bridges, founder

This unique philosophy helps the small company to develop a unique selling proposition that goes beyond the pure product and speaks about values such as sustainability, environment and community.

Developing a sustainable product

Haeckels has been created with a precise aim: developing 100% natural products of the highest quality, deeply rooted in the place and that help to protect the coastal environment.

All of its products, ranging from skin creams, perfumes, essential oils and scented candles, are made using only hand-picked natural ingredients. This includes seaweed, flowers and plants which are collected each time in a different location along the coast. This respectful approach allows not to damage the environment and to stimulate the regrowth of plants.

Haeckels also applies rigorous quality testing of its products, testing them in a small in-house laboratory to ensure their quality and effectiveness.

We work with an affiliated lab to carry our assessments and stability testing whilst using our own Margate lab to formulate, test and experiment before commencing large scale manufacturing. - Dom Bridges, founder

Because of its big effort to remain sustainable, the company proudly defines itself as a "small giant": even if small in size, Haeckels is committed to change the perception of independent skincare. To change this perception, the company puts a great effort into reducing waste and protecting the environment through its product.

Reducing waste through sustainable packaging

The company tries to keep the waste at a minimum whilst developing the packaging. The idea promoted by Haeckels is that companies should have the biggest responsibility to reduce waste, relieving customers from the pressure of recycling. To do so, the company adopts sustainable packaging for its products.

Our view is that it is our responsibility to reduce the waste consumers receive rather than put the pressure on a customer to recycle - Dom Bridges, founder

Haeckels has developed a range of solutions to mitigate the environmental impact of the packaging. Here are some examples:

  • Algae Bottle Seal: all bottle seals are entirely created from seaweed, removing the need for any plastic.
  • Candles as drinking glasses: candle glass can be cleaned and reused for both hot or cold drinks as the glass is insulated. For example, they can then be used to drink the seaweed tea the company produces.
  • Growing own packaging in-house: to package most of its products, Haeckels uses Mycelium, a 'living breathing' product that performs like plastics but is in fact made by mushrooms. The company grows this 100% biodegradable material in-house.

Transparency as a way to gain trust

Haeckels believes that along with sustainability, transparency should be another fundamental aspect of any company that wants to be reliable and credible in the eyes of customers. To do so, the company adopts a transparent pricing model, where all costs associated with the production of a product are shown.

In this way, the customer can see the real value of a product and all the associated costs, becoming more conscious of the efforts and work behind every product. By seeing all costs of production, packaging, research and development, customers become more aware of the care Haeckels puts into products and the honest pricing that is applied to them. This openness helps the company to establish a relationship of trust with the customer.

Fostering customer loyalty and environmental commitment

Developing customer loyalty can be a fundamental success factor for any company: retaining customers requires usually fewer efforts than acquiring new ones. At the same time, loyal customers who already know your product not only help you ensure constant revenue but can become true ambassadors of your brand and promoters of your core values.

To keep customers loyal, Haeckels has developed loyalty schemes rewarding those customers that fully embrace their values, incentivising sustainable practices aligned with the company's philosophy.

To us, customer care and loyalty is not about making people spend more; we want to thank and take care of the community, as well as reward positive action that helps tackle our planet’s ocean crisis. - Dom Bridges, founder

Aware of the importance of the preservation of the local coastal environment, where the company sources most of its raw materials, the company has launched the"Rubbish For Product" initiative, which rewards locals that help keep the coastline clean from waste. Whenever a customer takes part in cleaning up a beach and fills a bag of litter with proof that it came from the beach, the store provides a free product to say "thank you". Local residents are further rewarded with every purchase, providing residents with a 15% in-store discount on any product.

With a growing national and international customer base, the company realised that developing only locally-focused incentives wasn’t enough: they wanted everyone around the world to be rewarded for their efforts in keeping beaches clean. This is why Haeckels launched"Rubbish For Product / Worldwide": every customer who cleans a beach, then takes a photo and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #HaeckelsBeachClean receives a 40% discount code to be used on Haeckels.co.uk.

To further reduce impacts on the environment, the company has developed a Refill Discount, offering a 15% discount on the purchases for anyone returning empty product packaging, which can be returned both in-store or by post.

Committing to a circular model

In line with its sustainable philosophy, the brand is fully committed to developing a circular model where resources are reused and customers are incentivised to follow the same example.

Taking bold action, for a day the company decided to accept no form of money in its store in Margate to take a stand against Black Friday and consumerism, and mostly, to show the importance of applying the principles of the circular economy. The store gave its customers the opportunity to use bartering: each product could in fact be exchanged for other goods or service suggested by the customer.

The result of the initiative was impressive, as when customers came in many proposed something that was a magnitude greater than the products the company was offering. The initiative allowed the brand to start an intimate conversation with the customer, who got to learn the philosophy behind the products and the values that the company is carrying out.

As the company was opening another shop in London, through the bartering day, Haeckels also managed to make elements of that store more circular, as customers bartered with thems offering paint, a window display, marketing for the launch and even operational help.

Storytelling Haeckels

Alongside the concrete actions the company is taking to develop natural and sustainable products, Haeckels is using strong storytelling content to support its messaging. Through the website blog, in particular, the company tells the story of how products are developed and what efforts are being made by the company to develop a more sustainable cosmetic industry.

The articles, accompanied by strong visuals and minimalistic design, often tackle broader issues regarding sustainability, renewable resources, ethical cosmetics and environmental protection.

To talk directly to its customers and make them feel 'immersed' in the coastal environment where the company crafts its products, Haeckels has created 'The Blue Mind Podcast'. The podcast features stories from the coastal town of Margate and from the sea, featuring sounds of nature and stories from the sea.

Through the podcast, Haeckels also shares thoughts and hosts debates around sustainability, the circular economy and environmental protection, featuring each time a different guest.

Last but not least, the company relies on strong video content to tell the story of the business and showcase its products and values. In the video below, the founder Dom Bridges tells the story of Haeckels and shows what it's like to live in the coastal town of Margate and sourcing local natural products.

'Selling the destination' through unique products

Being located in the coastal town of Margate in the southern British county of Kent, where the company sources most of the natural ingredients for its products, it became natural that Haeckels developed strong bonds with the place.

These bonds led to the creation of unique products through which Haeckels not only wants to promote its values but to tell the story of the place, share its unicity and promote it as a great place to visit.

The idea Haeckels is promoting is that people should be able to experience the destination through a product. In line with this philosophy, the company has developed a 'GPS product line', made of perfumes, skin creams and scent candles named after the place that inspired them and geotagged according to the exact location where the ingredients were sourced.

For example, anyone purchasing the perfume Botany Bay / GPS 26'3"E can not only enjoy the fragrances of the natural area of Botany Bay but can even travel to the exact location where the aromatics were picked by entering the GPS coordinates in their device. In this way, the company is actively promoting the territory through its products, in an effort to raise awareness about the natural resources of the area.

In 2015 the company has developed even a bolder initiative to promote tourism in the region, launching the 'Haeckels Sea Bathing Machine'. The bathing machine is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over £30k from all over the world

We kept hearing that the ‘seasons’ affected local trade so significantly and we wanted a way to make Margate and our beaches a destination all year round. Inspired by the saunas of Reykjavik we wanted to create a concept that could be duplicated and used around the coastline of the UK, not just Thanet. - Dom Bridges, founder

The project consisted of building a traditional sea bathing machine with a sauna employing local craftspeople. This machine was transported to the beach where people were able to enjoy a warm sauna before jumping into the cold seawater to cool down. The aim of the project was to tackle the issue of seasonality in the town of Margate, by encouraging tourists to visit the location throughout the year.

With the company opening its first massages and reflexology centre in London, the bathing machine has earned even more popularity, as many of the centre's customers became later visitors of the area, intrigued and inspired by the unique concept of the machine.

Key Takeaways

Published on:
May 2020
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