With an expansive new product assortment, luxury skin-care company Augustinus Bader continues to rival other cult lines like La Mer and Biologique Recherche.
This month, it launches three new products: The Cream Cleansing Gel, its first offering in the cleansing category, on July 9, and The Body Lotion and The Body Oil later this month, on its site and with select retailers. After debuting its hero facial moisturizers, The Cream and Rich Cream just two years ago, the company has been methodically adding new products like its Body Cream, launched in June 2019, and its Hand Treatment that was introduced primarily because of the increased hand washing seen during Covid-19. Industry sources estimated the company brought in $24 million on just three products in 2019. Expected gross sales for 2020 are to be around $70 million, said Charles Rosier, Augustinus Bader CEO.
“With the Creams and the Body Cream, one question we kept getting asked was how TFC8 [the brand’s proprietary Trigger Factor Complex technology] was supposed to be applied, and the answer was on clean skin. The next question was, ‘What cleanser should I use?'” said Rosier. “We looked at the cleansers on the market — and some that are widely used — and Augustinus’ [Bader, a professor of applied stem cell biology that created the line] first reaction was that they were not incredibly healthy or good for the the skin.”
With respect to its new body lotion and oil, Rosier and Bader were unafraid of cannibalizing existing sales of the Body Cream, after seeing the success of the two textures of its facial moisturizers.
“The TFC8[technology] is essential to what we do and makes our products special, but ultimately, it up to the consumer to decide what format he or she prefers. There is no need to layer everything we have to get results,” said Rosier.
The company also does not want to slice and dice customer needs to offer a merchandising assortment with too many undifferentiated SKUs.”With our stem cell research, we think of our products like an engineer using a toolbox, and to fix a piece of equipment, you may not have to use all the tools in that toolbox. There is usually one that gets it done,” said Bader.
Covid-19 has disrupted many of Augustinus Bader’s retail partners with longstanding and still fragmented store closings and openings, like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Net-A-Porter and Blue Mercury. Rosier said the brand will only release products and categories that “add something to the conversation,” giving it a leg up among competitors in terms of innovation and also inventory. The company has noticed an uptick in clients and purchase behavior as customers prioritize health, wellness and science-backed brands, due to the pandemic. Rosier added that repeat purchase rates were as high as 90% at retailers like Violet Grey currently and 65% on average across all partners, including its own e-commerce site, over the last two years. Augustinus Bader’s products range from $50 to $265.
“Covid has slightly influenced our pipeline, but in some ways not. The Hand Cream was a pivot and was not forecasted in our pipeline, but we allocated resources there because it corresponded to a greater need. We understand that a beauty brand is not going to save or change lives, but we can help,” said Rosier.
Despite its measured approach in terms of product and marketing (the brand has largely relied on organic fanfare driven by editorial features and celebrities until now), Rosier believes the deceleration of fragrance and makeup will have a lasting impact on Augustinus Bader and the science-backed skin-care category.
“Some of this was happening before Covid, but now even the 18-34-year-old consumer is focused on the quality of products and not so much on makeup. As even the younger bracket, who you would think is focused on trend, isn’t as much, it proves a path for premium skin-care,” said Rosier. “So we don’t think of ourselves as an exclusive brand and don’t want to be a niche brand. We are a brand with a strong DNA and are here for the long term.”