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Men's Underwear Brand TBô Pioneers Community-Led Direct-By-Consumer Business Model

Men's underwear brand TBô pioneers community-led direct-by-consumer business model

The perfect package: TBô designs men's underwear for a better planet

We all know this: Our planet is in a bad state. In an attempt to counteract the negative effects of mass textile production on the environment and the people involved, the past years have seen the emergence of so-called community-led brands. Front and center: TBô from Switzerland pioneering with their direct-by-consumer (DBC) business model.

What does community-led actually mean?

Community-led brands put their customers at the center in order to create products their fans really want and identify with. One of the brands that turned to their community for help early on was Lego, when they realized that what they had been doing previously didn't sell any longer.

In 2008, they successfully launched an ideas platform to give fans the opportunity to propose ideas and vote on other members' suggestions. And who doesn't want to be part of that? Soon, they were able to measure their success in growing revenue.

The obvious benefit here is that by involving their community, brands are able to introduce products to the market that will be well received and bought by customers, thereby reducing overproduction of slow-moving products while ensuring success for community-approved items. And this is where TBô comes in.

TBô: "Direct-by-consumer is our mission"

TBô takes the community-led approach of Direct-to-consumer one step further. In 2017, the founders Roy and Allan introduced their direct-by-consumer business model. For them, DBC is a natural evolution from previous models, as it meets today's customers' needs perfectly.

DBC does not only concentrate on the opinions and feedback of the consumer as it is typically the case of the older business style models. DBC also gives consumers the power to decide important business activities, such as product design, choice of suppliers, donation recipients and much more.

One of the reasons why this model works so well is because the founders have really made it their personal mission to co-create underwear that fulfills its purpose and doesn't harm the planet. They've put their heart and soul into the idea.

"It all started when Allan and I weren't able to find underwear that met our standards as active, forward-thinking and environmental men", explains Roy. They started raising questions about preferences in men's underwear in forums and communities. Based on the feedback, they created their first prototype and ordered the production of 1000 pieces. No risk – no fun, right?

They soon realized that their idea was unique. The responses were encouraging and they continued to build. Today, Roy and Allan run their own community-platform for co-creation, proving that DBC is a business model the world had been waiting for.

Why is TBô's direct-by-consumer model pioneering?

  • Zeitgeist
As we're being progressively empowered by technology, it's only normal that we want to have a say in the decision-making-process of brands we want to associate ourselves with. Full transparency and a deeper connection between lifestyle, core beliefs and those of the brands is the only way to go.

  • Connect digitally
We get it: technology has taken over our lives. Especially now, the internet provides us with loads of opportunities to connect digitally. Brands can accumulate loyal customers and turn them into a tribe beyond borders. Combine this with a substantial growth in E-commerce-revenue (hello, COVID) and you've got yourself a pretty successful project.

  • Emphasis on sustainability

It's the new normal of the fashion industry: sustainability. Brands cannot go without it any longer and some struggle to switch from old habits to new, more eco-friendly production standards. At TBô, sustainability comes down to the very business model.

Not only are the products made out of super soft bamboo viscose and birch tree micro-modal; they are also produced in China, where the planet-friendly bamboo grows in abundance and is sourced sustainably.

To ensure a sustainable production throughout the whole supply chain, TBô works with transparent family-owned businesses to also be able to keep an eye on fair treatment of all parties involved in the creation of TBô pieces.

The material, as well as the design, color and shape are decided upon by the community. Since Roy and Allan know where the interests and preferences of the community lie, they can produce accordingly and thus avoid surplus production, a problem that many brands struggle with.

And to top it all off, TBô is part of the "1% for the Planet"-program, which ensures that one per cent of the company's revenue gets donated to an environmental organization. Again, the community can decide which association the money is allocated to. It doesn't get much more sustainable than that, does it?

TBô's future holds ... YOU!

So what's going to happen now? Today, the TBô tribe counts over 400,000 active members. "We want to grow an even bigger community", shares Roy enthusiastically.

The community-platform only launched a short while ago on their website, right now Allan and Roy are working on perfecting and automating processes in order to evaluate feedback and input in an even easier and more efficient way.

Since they're truly pioneering the DBC-idea and platform, it is on them to decide how to best place the platform on the market. Theoretically, it could be used to co-create any kind of product.

The community might grow bigger and the products might – in accordance with what the tribesmen decide – change, however some things will stay the same: the community is the heart of the company, it's what TBô is based on and it's what shapes the products – literally.

The focus on the community's involvement and Roy and Allan's personal commitment are also manifested in the company's name: TBô is short for "tu es beau": You are beautiful.

The community is the company. The company is the community. It's a win-win.

Words by Aylin Aslan

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17 March 2021

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