Back to Basics — with Brian Berger of Mack Weldon

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In the confusing world of men’s underwear and socks, Brian Berger would like to be your guide. 

“It all came to a head when my wife threw out all of my tattered underwear and socks, and I had to go to a department store,” Berger said on the 35th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast. “When the sales guy said to me ‘Are you confused yet?’  I realized now was really the time when I needed to do this.”

Berger is the co-founder of Mack Weldon, a clothing company looking to reinvent men’s basics around fit and quality. But more than just engineering fashion, Berger realized the men’s basics market was not one that required a physical retail space.

“There’s a very traditional model of brands selling through third party retailers that creates confusion,” he said. “This is a category where customers look for consistency. Once you find something that you like and that fits you really well, you want to know that you can come back and get that over and over again.”

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Recognizing that success in men’s basics is rooted in consistency, Berger said he turned his attention to improving the customer experience and cultivating brand loyalty. One way Mack Weldon has kept customers returning is through a pricing strategy that encourages larger purchases, less intimidating given that customers might already know what they’re looking for.

“It’s 10 percent at $100, 15 percent at $150, and 20 percent at $200 and you get free shipping over $50,” Berger said. “As we introduce product with either a more nuanced fit, like a polo shirt, or higher priced items, the customer tends to scrutinize a little bit more in terms of whether or not they want to keep it.  I think you see that reflected in the return rate.”

Partnerships with Equinox have given the company an opportunity to grow, though Berger said he believes retail will always be about developing awareness and credibility to serve Mack Weldon’s online sales.

“I hear people talk about companies that I know are a fraction of our size, but because they can walk into a store they think it’s like gigantic,” he said. “That’s important in terms of building up the equity with customers.”

But as big retail companies recognize the value of e-commerce, Berger said companies like Mack Weldon are gaining respect for their digital expertise. While continuing to improve the company, Berger said he has been aggressive in improving other foundational elements of Mack Weldon, such as shipping.  

“50 percent of our business is very similar to every other consumer goods business out there and 50 percent is a tech business,” Berger said. “How we improve the product over time is driven by hard-core tech and analytics.”