Did you ever think that your AHA! moments could appear in the form of a socially conscious curation of wonderful things to buy online?
AHAlife, which launched on September 13 during Fashion Week, lends a daily dose of shopping inspiration to its readers. Named after the word “aha,” the universal sound of discovery, this website offers an innovative approach to invite-only online shopping.
AHAlife’s mission is to showcase one new product every 24 hours by placing the unique item and its designer in the spotlight. After all, their motto is, “1 Product. 24 Hours. 100% Inspiring. AHAlife’s team of global curators brings the best the world has to offer right to your doorstep.”
Shauna Mei, the CEO and founder of AHAlife, recently spoke with JC Report to discuss the inspiration and philosophy behind AHAlife. Mei noted that AHAlife is about filling the design voids in various places in our lives.
Cultivating Internationally Sophisticated Luxury Consumers
We were fascinated by the concepts that Mei discussed, so we spoke with her on how her full life taught her about globally sophisticated luxury shoppers.
Mongolian-born Mei was raised in Communist China, where her father was a diplomat responsible for establishing relationships with anthropologists. Mei’s family moved to the US after the Tienanmen Square massacre. Mei attended MIT where she studied electrical engineering. Later, Mei starting working at Goldman Sachs, providing luxury marketing advice to luxury brand Neiman Marcus. Mei assisted Neiman Marcus in expansion into emerging luxury markets such as Japan and China. When the current recession began, Mei moved to Stockholm to study design. Her experiences in Stockholm, coupled with her work on launching luxury brands in emerging luxury markets enabled Mei to develop what she calls an “integrated 360 view of luxury lifestyle and culture.” In this, marketers have to think about their target consumer and learn how those target customers purchase. From the knowledge, luxury marketers can create sustainable business models that incite more sophisticated, affluent customers to buy.
Discovering Our Own Micro Aha Moments
The entire premise of AHAlife is collective curation and dialogue. The website aims to create a joint dialogue between one buyer and one merchant. As the site develops, products will become increasingly tailored and customized to the individual customer.
From our initial registration to spending two weeks taking part of the customer experience the site created, we noticed many things (aside from the products) that made us fall in love with AHAlife in a multidimensional way. There were barely noticeable details that someone just taking a quick look at the site might not notice.
- Registration: When we registered, we were asked to tell a story. Macala told her story of how she broke her black wardrobe cycle with a fuchsia Rebecca Minkoff bag and how she believed it helped her land a new client.
- Tangible bites of information: AHAlife showcases one product per day, and provides only a week’s worth of information on the calendar. We anticipated and opened our daily email as eagerly as we wait for GOOP and Design*Sponge to hit our inbox.
- WHERE an item was discovered: This little sentence located on the bottom of a product story completed the passion we have for this website. It feels like a scavenger hunt for the best items in the world has taken place, and the treasures have been put in front of the right audience for the right purchase and exposure. Beautifully thought out marketing strategy!
Ahalife’s Modus Operandi
BNET believes that Mei’s experience and modus operandi will help set AHAlife apart in the crowded, competitive e-commerce world. AHAlife’s model is a consistent theme among recent fashion site launches. But what makes AHAlife unique is that the site shares the story behind the showcased object, through beautiful photography and heartfelt text.
Different than a fashion flash sale site, AHAlife caters to the savvy consumer who looks for amazing items from around the world that are not found on every warehouse based site. Instead of seeing items chosen by the same person or few people, AHAlife aims to keep its content fresh by featuring curators from around the world (including some famous people with discerning taste), and even from within its community.
Shoppers can find an array of products on AHAlife that will meet their design needs. Categories include: Optimize Me, Dress Me, Nourish Me, Design Me, Treat Me, Go with Me, Enlighten Me and Surprise Me. Since AHAlife closes the gap between designer and consumer, shoppers can be assured that the cool items they discover on AHAlife will be available for them to meet their design demands.
So, is AHAlife’s marketing strategies effective in attracting affluent, sophisicated shoppers?
According to Mei, it is extremely successful. Thus far, AHAlife reports:
- Rapid, organic conversations about the site that have led to viral, word of mouth that has exceeded their expectations. Because of this, they read every registration, granting access to members based on their responses. They are going against the traditional VC recommendation of rapid user acquisition, instead focusing on building a quality community.
- Email open rates that are 2-3 times the industry average, followed by sell through of the products in those emails, with the most traffic areas being Optimize Me (life efficiency) and Enlighten Me (showing the customer more in an obtainable way).
- The “sticky” factor, or what we consider user retention, has been the collective curation of the products, services and organization presented to the community. The site’s “be a guest curator” feature has shown community members that tastemakers come from everywhere.
With a jump start in social media, AHAlife shares its daily finds with its communities via Twitter and Facebook, in addition to its website. The company is reaching out across various mediums to ensure that each handpicked item is seen (and heard).