Hims Subscription Box – Grooming and Wellness for Men

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Soon, being your best self (at least aesthetically) could be as simple as a trip to the mailbox. That’s the goal of Hims, one of a handful of new companies taking the subscription-delivery model and applying it to wellness in ways that go a step beyond grooming—including treating some pretty delicate conditions that have historically been under-discussed by doctors and patients.

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Launched this November, Hims has been dubbed the “Glossier for dudes” by Racked, and it’s hoping to take the stigma out of treatment for all kinds of men’s issues. First on the docket is hair loss (euphemized on its site as a bonsai tree shedding its leaves), with a $44-a-month box that includes DHT shampoo, a Minoxidil dropper, and Finasteride pills. And more recently, Hims delved into erectile dysfunction with a $20-per-month subscription to Sildenafil, the generic version of Viagra.

If you’d be uncomfortable bringing up those issues to your physician, then Hims might be for you. Everything about its branding is supposed to convey a carefully crafted casualness. Its copy is easygoing and playful, down to the bespoke typos, and the models are attractive, but not so attractive you couldn’t picture them struggling with baldness or ED. The medications are prescribed by Hims’ network of doctors based on an online assessment. And the products themselves? They’re Kinfolk-chic; you might conspicuously find yourself leaving them out in your apartment, something Hims founder Andrew Dudum says is decidedly by design.

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“They need to be beautiful, they need to feel amazing when you use them, they need to taste great.”

“These products can’t feel medical or smell like something a doctor prescribed,” says Dudum. “They need to be beautiful, they need to feel amazing when you use them, they need to taste great. That is how you help men not only get the products they need, but encourage the consistent use necessary to make sure they work.”

A few other brands have dipped their toes into the same market as Hims, such as Roman (for erectile dysfunction) and Hairmop (for hair loss), but most that have opted for this blend of ease and sleek packaging are in the grooming or non-prescription realm, like Dollar Shave Club (for razors) and Birchbox (for grooming). But Dudum still sees a huge opportunity when it comes to tackling the more serious topics of men’s wellness in a way that doesn’t feel so sterile and stigmatized.

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“Hims is the direct result of watching men struggle and become frustrated with taking care of the most basic health and wellness issues—issues that are statistically more common than not,” says Dudum. “The subjects are often uncomfortable to discuss, but coupled with the lack of true science-backed information, the frustratingly long process of finding and seeing a doctor, and then the cost prohibitive prices for these drugs, makes them impossible to fix.”

With massive growth in the subscription box market (bringing in big funding from Silicon Valley) there’s a tendency to look at every product in your local pharmacy as a multi-million dollar startup in the making. But as new products flood the space, quality may vary.

“I think there’s a big rush to add [subscriptions] to a category, and what a lot of people tend to do is pick a product off the shelf, change the logo and color, and make it $5 less than the big brands,” says Simon Enever, founder and CEO of Quip, which started selling sleek toothbrushes and replacement brush heads in 2015. “That’s fine in some areas, but there are others where you shouldn’t forget to make a better product.”

“You shouldn’t forget to make a better product.”

Both Enever and Dudum note that what they see as key to their products is the necessity of daily use. Enever also credits Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s with expanding the minds of consumers about what can and can not be delivered via subscription.

“There are some things where it makes a lot of sense, from a logistical and health and price and efficiency point of view, but there are definitely places where it doesn’t,” says Enlever. “And you wind up getting five bottles of something that lasts two years because you only use it sporadically and they’ve forced a subscription on it.”

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Unsurprisingly, there has been skepticism about Hims. Fast Co. Design’s Diana Budds questioned whether a company that seeks to restore traditional signs of full-functioning masculinity could truly be as progressive as Hims’ marketing and stated intent makes it seem. Plus, it’s a startup, and many startups have developed a tendency for charging ahead without taking heed of the complicated issues they create.

There’s also undeniably something a little odd about Hims’ blend of men’s lifestyle blog, prescription service, and sleek subscription box. It’s not necessarily because of what it does, as Hims, despite the prescriptions, still is largely in the wheelhouse of Birchbox or Dollar Shave Club. It’s more about the floodgates that Hims could open. As Dudum stressed, it involves serious medicine, and should be treated as such.

“At the end of the day, despite Hims’ products not feeling like medicine, they are medicine,” says Dudum. “You need to take it consistently and over the right period of time for them to work.”

While Hims currently addresses more voluntary concerns like male pattern baldness and erectile dysfunction, outright telemedicine still has its share of skeptics. We’ll know there has been a real breakthrough when we get a company aiming to be the Hims of heart disease. But for now, if the price point stays low, the issues remain fairly straightforward, and the products remain accessible, it’s easy to see how the impact could be positive and make a difference in the wellness space—particularly when dealing with ailments that are uncomfortable for men to discuss. Now that’s a way to start a conversation.



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