Dollar Shave Club is a great example of all things currently in vogue: startup business, disintermediation, and selling for a billion dollars.
I have a friend who was a loyal DSC customer, almost from the beginning. He loved the small monthly package in his mail, the snarky insert of male-focused grooming tips, and the overall startup feel to it all. Shortly after selling to Gillette, DSC tried to get into the toothpaste business. And they did what only made sense: they sent out announcements to their existing customers in the monthly mailing, including marketing information and a free sample. In doing so, the package got larger – much larger, to the point of being wasteful.
My buddy was outraged. He was so tweaked that he took the time to shoot a video, showing the waste of packaging and printed material all in the name of trying to sell him more stuff for which he hadn’t signed up. The last part of the video was him logging onto the DSC site and canceling his subscription.
The video didn’t go viral or anything, but it was a clear refutation of what are pretty standard practices. As far as I know DSC is still selling toothpaste. But it does make a point that when your business foundation is to change the landscape and shake things up, you can’t take anything for granted, especially not those customers whose expectations you set early on.
If you build your business on the premise of change, then it’s important to understand who your customers are and why they became customers. Falling back on standard practices when what you’re doing hasn’t been done before, and when your customers came to you because you were different is going to put them off at best, and possibly — as was the case with my friend — drive them away.