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Prose CMO Megan Streeter on How the Brand’s Personalization Model Helped Build a Loyal Team of Advocates—and $100 Million in Revenue

Megan Streeter Prose CMO

In Ep. 59 of Earned, Conor sits down with Megan Streeter, CMO of customizable haircare brand Prose, which achieved $100 million in revenue in its first five years. To start the episode, Megan unpacks her long career in the beauty industry, which spans from corporate giants L'Oréal and Estée Lauder to independent, direct-to-consumer haircare brands like DevaCurl and now Prose. We learn why Megan was interested in working in the haircare space, and what Prose has taught her about not only haircare, but also DTC strategy and distribution, product personalization, and digital tech. Megan then explains how Prose’s mission to deliver personalized products that addressed people’s unique needs attracted her to the brand, and how its product customization helps Prose build one-on-one, sustainable relationships with its consumers. Next, Megan shares why it was important to her to start investing in influencers early on, and how her influencer marketing philosophies have evolved over time, before ending the show by revealing the characteristics that she thinks make for a good CMO. 

We’ve included a couple of highlights from the episode below, but be sure to check out the full video above, or tune into the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts!

The following interview has been lightly edited for concision.

“How do we deliver what someone actually wants, and how do we do it thoughtfully?” Megan Streeter Shares Challenges and Learnings from Prose’s Customizable Haircare Model 

Conor Begley: Coming in with a background that is mostly retail-focused, what have you learned about direct-to-consumer that was surprising over the last couple of years? And I can't imagine what it's like to create custom products for every customer. What are the challenges associated with that?

Megan Streeter: What has been interesting is that the playbook that you know is not the playbook that you can actually bring to a specific DTC company. I think I've learned a lot around performance marketing, obviously going from retail to a performance marketing-driven distribution. I also think the digital product experience is really critical, and key to how you're going to convert and engage and keep consumers coming back. We have an incredible digital product and tech team that has really been able to hone that. So I think that, in itself, has been a tremendous amount of learning. It's the art and the science: there's the art of marketing that has to tell the brand’s story, and there's the science and the algorithm and the data-driven approach to the tech that has really been one of our advantages when it comes to Prose, but also has been a great learning. And so how you integrate those to create a true vision for what the company should be, how the brand should look and feel, and also how you engage consumers has definitely been something different. 

And how do you continue to evolve? I think that's the other thing—with retail, you launch, you try to iterate, but typically, you launch and leave, and you try to sustain as best as possible. When it comes to DTC, you're constantly iterating, you're constantly optimizing, you're constantly learning. And so I think that requires a real shift in terms of approach, but that also makes you that much more nimble, and able to adapt to what's going on in the marketplace. So I think that's been a key difference. 

When it comes to challenges, of course, making a single product for a single person is very challenging. But it's honestly what drew me to Prose, because Arnaud's vision with Nico and Paul was to change the beauty industry, to flip it on its head. Instead of creating all these mass products and just putting them on the shelf and sitting there, they thought, “That's not very sustainable, it's not good for the climate, it's not good for the earth.” And so instead, they were like, “How do we deliver what someone actually wants, and how do we do it thoughtfully? And how do we do it in a way that's economical and makes sense from a business standpoint?” They have been able to crack the code, which has been incredible, and very different from what you see out there today with other brands.

Conor Begley: Yeah, that makes sense. And I think that aligns with where consumer values are going. On the DTC side of things, the thing that I think is really powerful is how fast you can close the feedback loop, right?

Megan Streeter: Yeah, and obviously we have a subscription model, which makes us unique in terms of repeat orders and bringing the customer back. We also have an interesting feature called Review & Refine, which allows the customer, after their first order, to tell us what worked, what didn't work, how do we need to modify, where did we hit five stars, where are we one star?

So that as they get their next order, we're ensuring that we're able to address whatever their concerns are. And then through their haircare journey over time, we're also able to address if things have changed within their profile. So if someone has moved, for instance, climate can have a major impact on your hair, or if your diet has changed, or if you're going through menopause, for instance. So having that one-on-one relationship with our consumer allows us to truly tailor the product to their needs, and it also creates that relationship that keeps them coming back. 

Team, Curiosity, and Prioritization: Megan Streeter’s Top Characteristics of a Good CMO

Conor Begley: A lot of people want to become a CMO at some point. You got to that role very early in your career, about 12 years in, which is very quick to get that C-level title at a notable brand. You've done it twice in a row so far—you've gotten in and made the brands better than they were before you were involved. So what would you say are the characteristics that make a good CMO? 

Megan Streeter: That's a great question. I wish I knew that answer a long time ago. I think there are a few things. First and foremost, it's the team that you build. It's who you surround yourself with. To be very effective, you need to have a strong, diverse leadership team, and you need to find people that complement you, and challenge you, to figure out how you're going to move the brand forward.

Part of being a great CMO is being really curious as well. And I would say that both in terms of a characteristic of a CMO, but also when you're joining a new brand, it's all about curiosity. It's all about trying to understand what's working, what's not working, and why, to figure out where you need to make an impact, or how you could potentially make a positive impact. I think being curious about all facets is super, super important because whatever you did in your past isn’t necessarily going to apply where you are today. I learned a tremendous amount in the last few companies that I was at, but it's all situational. It depends where the company's at, it depends where the team’s at, it depends what you're trying to do. So if you come in with a planned agenda, you’re more likely to fail. But I think if you come curious, it changes not only the mindset of yourself, but the mindset of your team, and it creates more openness to really unveil where you need to focus. 

I think the third thing is prioritization. There's so many things you can do. You need to be able to prioritize and figure out what is going to make the biggest impact and provide the largest return, and probably at the lowest lift. Especially with companies where you're not going to have unlimited resources, you’re still going to be actively growing. So you're going to be building the plane, flying the plane, changing the engine, you're going to be doing a lot of things at the same time. If you don't have a clear agenda and if you're not prioritized, it will make it very easy to shift gears.So I would say the three most important things are team, prioritization, and being really curious.

You can watch the entire interview here, or listen to the full episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts. To catch up on our other 58 episodes, featuring leaders from brands like Milk Makeup, Gymshark, Gucci, and Summer Fridays, visit our Earned Podcast page.

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