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This post originally appeared on the blog of Bainbridge Growth. It is being republished by The Current with permission.
Him & Hers Health Inc. is a multi-specialty telehealth platform that sells branded products and services primarily via a D2C subscription model. The product assortment includes vitamins, supplements, over the counter medications and personal care products. Andrew Dudum started the company in 2017 as Hims Health, with sexual health products and hair loss treatments as it’s first products. The company launched Hers Health in 2018 as a separate brand and ecommerce platform that carried birth control options and libido boosters. With these brands established, the company raised a $100 million series C in January 2019 at a valuation of $1 billion. In January 2021, Hims & Hers Health premiered on the NYSE via a SPAC, Oaktree Acquisition Corporation. This liquidity event raised $280 million for the company, at a $1.6 billion market capitalization.
The company sells services including telemedicine consultations, with offers such as $39 primary care visits. Their products and services are paid for in cash, outside of the traditional health insurance network which speeds up access. Mr. Dudum sees the total addressable market of digital healthcare as $4 trillion, describing his vision as “access and a brand that people love and trust.” While HIMS is focused on DTC, the company also has B2B ambitions that include partnering with self-insured employers and health systems to sell their branded products and service subscriptions. Growth in revenue and subscribers hit an upward inflection point in 2021 and has been very impressive in the subsequent quarters.
In the most recent quarter revenue was $145M, growing 95% YoY as subscribers nearly doubled to 991,000. Average order value outperformed inflation, expanding 12% while total orders grew 73%. These drivers are the primary metrics the company uses to track top line performance, with Orders Per Subscriber, Items Per Order, and Average Subscriber Length being secondary metrics that saw significant discussion on recent earnings calls. The management team pointed to longer average subscription times (more months purchased) and customers mixing toward higher priced products as primary drivers of increased AOV.
In Q3 2022 gross margin was their highest on record at 79%, with margin expansion coming from higher mix of online vs wholesale and increased scale in fulfillment operations. Gross margin has been extremely stable over the course of the last two years, with each quarter landing between 73.5% and 79%. Adjusted EBITDA in the quarter was -$6M and the company is forecasting its first quarter of Adj. EBITDA profit in Q4 2022. The standout in their expense base were the very high marketing costs as a percentage of revenue, typically averaging in the mid 50s and acts to offset their very high gross margins.
Source: hims & hers Investor Relations
While the company has forecasted ever higher sales throughout the year, increases to full year Adj.EBITDA projections have not occurred at the same rate. Impressive top line performance has undoubtedly been a good thing in this case, however the significant deviation from their initial February forecast does imply limited visibility on sales trends.
Source: hims & hers Investor Relations
The company’s growth pillars include Brand, Technology and Experience. Investments in these focus areas are stress tested using a robust investment framework where new initiatives must meet certain requirements:
1. Payback periods that are under 1 year.
2. Must drive long term growth while capturing improved unit economic benefits from increased scale.
3. Higher ROI if it is a long term investment.
On Brand, the company has pursued a similar pivot as other DTC companies, moving toward at scale brand awareness marketing. Their pursuit of high visibility and high impression brand placements is intended to drive long term brand equity. They’ve rolled out HIMS hair ads starring Rob Gronkowski during NFL Football games and HERS online video placements on Disney’s Hulu streaming platform. Their Technology investments have also been heavily touted by the executive team, as Q1 2022 saw the rollout of their iOS platform and during Q3 2022 their Android platform was released. Early responses to the Android app have been “extremely positive”. In addition to these mobile apps, they’ve pursued improved routing technology to support customer care questions. This system directs online customers to the right products and consultation offerings and creates the feel of a personalized platform.
Their Experience pillar has been focused on their new 25,000-square-foot owned pharmacy in Phoenix, where they are seeing significant gains in margins and customer experience performance by interacting directly with customers in person. Their broader national business is supported by the 300,000-square-foot Columbus, Ohio, fulfillment facility. The HERS product line has also been significantly expanded this year with 6 new Wellness Supplements and a skincare product line. Both of these new product lines are available at CVS Pharmacy, which is expected to drive growth in Wholesale Revenue.
It is impressive to see their growth completely unaffected by recent macro trends, which was a point of repeated questions from Wall Street analysts on their most recent earnings call. The company is maintaining impressive growth and raising guidance as other consumer categories appear to be wavering. We believe that this is attributed to their unique subscription-based business model that solves a “high need” in a market (health) and their competitors like Teladoc are not exactly aligned to pose direct competition. Management seems to see benefits of scale playing out going forward and predicts Adj. EBITDA profitability will continue going forward. They intend to show a full picture of their steps to operating profitability during the Q4 earnings call. We’ll be watching for continued subscriber growth and leverage gains in marketing spend.
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Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.