The Hundreds is a streetwear brand founded in Los Angeles in 2003 by Bobby Kim and Ben Shenassafar, inspired by Californian culture including hip-hop, skateboarding and surfing.
The Hundreds founder Bobby Kim has always placed focus on creating an authentic voice, in-person interaction ,and dedication to the mantra “people over product." One of the elements The Hundreds is built around storytelling is communicated through their "The Hundreds TV" series, where Bobby live streams stories behind all new releases.
Alongside "The Hundreds TV", there is a "Text Bobby" option that opens up a text chat directly with the founder. There is no intermediary here - you can have a direct conversation with Bobby himself.
We love this example of a conversation a fan had with Bobby that he posted on twitter. Imagine being a young entrepreneur looking up to one of the pioneers of street-wear and being able to have a 1:1 chat with your hero? This creates a direct 1:1 connection that wasn't ever previously possible unless there was an intermediary (like social media or youtube) to mediate.
What we think: If you've read some of our other case studies you'll know we're big fans of deeper connection and 1:1 conversation. The Hundreds example is especially great, since you're not just speaking to the brand, but the founder himself - creating trust and a stronger connection than speaking to a bot or general team member.
We heard Bobby mention that there's almost 5k people on his SMS list (early 2020). Based on SMS open rate being 90%, that equates to almost 4.5k people that see his texts every-time he sends a group message. Pretty incredible numbers based on a small audience base. Based on the open rates and engagement of SMS, this reflects the same power of an email list close to 20K subscribers.
Bobby also uses his SMS base to drop new products or exclusive content once in a while. It's important to note that this is secondary to the value-add of 1:1 connection previously spoken about above. He first move is to connect with his audience and tell the story of The Hundreds before any "sell". We've seen that most brands do this this the other way around.
The key takeaway is that you can build your brand by doing the unscalable - like 1:1 peer-to-peer communication. This extreme value add creates far more of a deeper connection with a small group of people than an ad strategy or social media post would ever be able to match.
What we think: Once you've created value and built trust, an engaged community becomes an amazing opportunity to launch new products or services. Bobby has clearly focused and invested in the former, which enables him (and The Hundreds) to execute the later without damaging brand equity or image.
PS: We also love the "Once again - don't tell anyone" sign-off message. This really encapsulates the exclusive feel of the opportunity to connect directly with Bobby and brings you closer to both him and the brand as a whole.
The Hundreds really focuses on real 1:1 connection throughout their entire "text with Bobby" strategy. This enables them to move into all other areas after creating trust and connection.
When you place the open rates and CTR of SMS up against email, the results are astonishing. The Hundreds focus more on a smaller, engaged community on SMS rather than a large bloated community on email.
After all, the customers messaging Bobby are clearly fans of the Hundreds, and are always after their new launches or releases. Only after Bobby invested personally in the community did they send exclusive offers.