Garden Centre Retail speaks with Stephen Hoare, the UK country manager of PopSockets to find out about the history of the company, the viral product it creates and how garden centres are a key focus for the brand in 2020.
PopSockets is an American business, founded by current CEO Mr David Barnett, a professor of philosophy. The product was borne out of frustration. In 2012, David bought himself an iPhone, and loved listening to music, but got so frustrated with the headphone wires getting tangled. So, he set about finding a solution. He stuck two big buttons on the back of his iPhone and used it to create this figure of eight to cable manage. He got ridiculed by his friends and family, so he showed it to his students. His students liked it, but they said the cable management wasn’t the issue, it was gripping and holding the phone that was more important to them. The next iteration, and really what the company launched, was the pop grip – an expandable and collapsible grip like today’s iteration.
The product sticks to the back of a smart phone and can be popped out for ease of holding, using as a stand, and mounting to a car air vent – allowing the phone to be used safely as a SatNav.
“PopSockets was launched in 2014, and products were only sold online,” explains Stephen. “It became a viral sensation. Everybody in the States either had one or wanted one. Between 2016 to 2018, we had 78,000% growth. In 2018, PopSockets was the second-fastest growing company in the States. In the six years that we’ve been trading, we’ve sold over 165 million units worldwide.”
Now, there are three core elements to the pop socket business – B2B promotion, customisation and retail. “We supply to multiple vertical markets, which is where the opportunity in garden centres is,” says Stephen. “But, we supply across multiple channels as retail propositions.”
Today, PopSockets can be purchased online as well as in a multitude of stores, spanning industries such as fashion, telco, pharmaceutical and stationery.
“What we realised is, whilst the utility of the product is to go on a smart phone, we understand that with 40 million smart phones in the UK, the consumer varies from 12 to 90-year-olds. They have a need for the utility of the product, but they won’t shop in the same places. For us, it’s about positioning our product, because we know it’s compatible with those consumers. Our core demographic is between 18 to 44, and we don’t discriminate against anybody, because there is a message and reason for every smart phone user, regardless of their age and desire to have one.”
Currently, the customer base is around 70% female, and the core age demographic for PopSockets is the 18 to 44-year-olds.
“When I look at the change that garden centres have gone through over a number of years, our product now fits perfectly within the offerings” says Stephen. “This product lends itself to be an impulse or gifting purchase. So, whether you’re 18-years-old, or a mother with young children in a garden centre for the play area, or an older, experienced gardener looking to buy gifts for their children or grandchildren, it’s there.”
The PopSockets Product
“We have various print designs for the products. We have floral patterns, to funky patterns, to pop culture designs. There are a multitude of different designs, from our standard four-colour print range, to our premium solutions with more colour and material finish. They are a slightly higher price point, but we have aluminium, glitter, gloss, vegan leather and all sorts. Finally, we move up to our Luxe range, which offers things like acetate, gemstones, etc. Our range goes all the way up to Swarovski crystals, which retail at £55. We have something for everybody,” explains Stephen.
“The product can be purchased as a whole or with a replaceable, interchangeable top. We also have the PopMirror with a mirror on it, and are looking to bring out one with a lip balm in it – so there are many products in our ecosystem.”
The standard range, the four-colour, UV-printed designs retail around £10 to £12, moving up to £14 to £16. The products with glitter, vegan leather and other materials can retail for up to £25, and the Swarovski crystal-backed products retail at £55.
A product invented due to the frustration of the founder may well become the viral-selling product for garden centres in 2020.
To find out how you can add PopSockets to your offering, contact email Stephen at [email protected].