Welcome to Glossy’s Beauty and Wellness Briefing. This exclusive and inside look at the beauty and wellness industries is meant to dig into the topics that really matter and shed light on the elephants in the room. Sign up here to get the briefing delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.
When Ralph Lauren fragrances was thinking of a way to ignite interest around its Gen Z- and millennial-geared Polo Red series, namely its Polo Red Rush cologne, which launched in August 2018, the company set its sights on two seemingly unusual sources: DJ Kygo and Spotify.
As of June 10, Kygo will serve as global ambassador of the scent. In this new capacity, he will star in marketing campaign materials, create custom playlists for Spotify and perform in partnership with Polo Red Rush at musical events such as the Findings Festival in Oslo, Norway and his own Wynn Nightlife residency in Las Vegas (Polo Red Rush fragrances will subsequently be sampled at these events).
Ralph Lauren’s push for Polo Red Rush to be seen as a lifestyle brand versus purely a fragrance brand comes at a time when designer scents in the U.S. seem to have lost their luster.
According to NPD data, the designer fragrance category only grew by 2% between January and April. This is on par with the total prestige fragrance category. While European designer contributed to growth and increased by 6% year over year, American designer fragrances are down by 9%. Niche scents, meanwhile, have grown by 13%.
As for Ralph Lauren’s fragrance franchise, which is owned by L’Oréal Groupe, it is ranked sixth in the U.S., after Chanel, fellow parent company scents Giorgio Armani and Yves Saint Laurent, and Estée Lauder, per Euromonitor International data. L’Oréal declined to detail Red Rush sales, but it was estimated to bring in $100 million in retail sales in its first year.
Though Roxann Blasz, vp of global marketing at Ralph Lauren Fragrances, said the company’s Polo Red series has always been rooted in youth culture, it saw opportunity to double down on music.
“Our guy is 18 to 35 years old, and from what we understand, he spends, on average, two and a half hours just streaming music,” said Blasz. “He has a strong preference for EDM, so from our perspective, partnering with the largest streaming platform made a lot of sense.”
Kygo, for his part, is the No. 1 EDM artist on Spotify worldwide. His work with Ralph Lauren marks the first time the brand has ever worked with a musician.
Though Polo Red Rush’s focus is third-party retail partners, like Ulta and Macy’s, the drive to work with Spotify was to move beyond the standard social channel posts for conversion. Kygo will be promoting Polo Red Rush on his Instagram, where he has 3.6 million followers, but he has created custom audio content and playlists for Polo Red Rush on Spotify that are meant to highlight his relationship to the brand. Actor Ansel Elgort, who has served as the face of the scent, will also create his own set of Spotify playlists.
Spotify subscribers will be served the four playlists when they are logged into the app, based on personalized recommendations, and non-subscribers will be able to access the playlists through Kygo and Elgort’s channels. Custom QR codes provided on Spotify will then be able to be activated at Ulta’s and Macy’s sites and in stores at the time of purchase — this will allow Ralph Lauren Fragrances to track a customer’s path to buy through Spotify. In the fall, an additional Polo Red scent will be unveiled with new corresponding playlists. Ralph Lauren would not detail the financial terms of its partnership with Spotify.
Though RalphLauren.com will announce the Kygo and Spotify partnerships, which are considered digital-first initiatives, the site is not considered a primary sales channel for Polo Red Rush, said Blasz.
Spotify has irregularly dipped its toe into beauty in the past. In November 2017, it allowed Pat McGrath Labs to sell select products on singer Maggie Lindemann’s artist page, as well as on its Merchbar platform. Currently, only hoodies, T-shirts and vinyl records are available for purchase on Merchbar, but no beauty products are listed.
“We think of our platform as a creative playground for brands like Ralph Lauren to tell their stories and reach people in the intimate way that really only audio can,” said Brian Benedik, vp and global head of advertising sales at Spotify.
Though Kygo presents a new way Ralph Lauren is treating talent, Brian Salzman, founder and CEO of relationship marketing agency RQ, considers the activation more in line with a traditional celebrity endorsement deal versus an intimate influencer play.
“Influencer marketing is about brands having relationships with people of influence and authentically bringing their brands into those communities. The playlists and events seem like traditional media,” he said. “With influencers like Huda Kattan creating their own brands and even Glossier entering into fragrance, it’s a scary market. This may not be a case of driving conversion for Ralph Lauren with Kygo, but trying to drive relevance. Whether its enough, I’m not sure.”
Blasz said all RL ambassadors will now showcase a holistic approach in their participation with the brand; former baseball player Alex Rodriguez, who was announced as Polo Blue’s global ambassador in May, is expected to create content for Ralph Lauren later this year with a focus on entrepreneurship.
“We think what we are doing here is creating a lifestyle, which is something I think not a lot of other designer fragrances are doing right now,” said Blasz. “Understanding community and tribes is what we know and how we are different.” — Priya Rao, beauty editor
Behind Needed’s come to market strategy
Though supplement company Needed, which launched in May, is focused on being direct-to-consumer first, it is courting health practitioners (doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists) to drive online growth. Unlike wellness companies like Care/of and Ritual, which focus only on selling directly to consumers without a network of sellers, Needed is using its 250-plus practitioners, like clinical nutritionist Lauren Rashap, with 11,300 Instagram followers, and Stephanie Greunke, a dietitian and personal trainer with 16,900 followers, to act much like micro-influencers, said co-founder Julie Sawaya.
When a practitioner joins Needed’s program, they receive product, education materials and a unique code to give to their patients or clients. These codes are meant to track a practitioner’s referrals. Practitioners — who don’t actually hold any product inventory à la Avon — receive 15% commission off of a client’s three-month subscription (which can range from $50 to $75 a month), and consumers receive 10% off their first month’s order if they go through a practitioner. In many ways, Needed’s model shares similarities to what salon stylists are to the professional and prestige hair space.
Arguably, it is also a way to get around the challenges DTC-only brands face, such as the costs of digital ads and customer acquisition. “We don’t expect performance marketing to be our primary means for customer acquisition. Referrals through practitioners is the focus,” said co-founder Ryan Woodbury. “Practitioner-supported DTC offers a lower CAC; stickier customers, given the weightiness of a practitioner’s recommendation; and increased retention.” — Priya Rao
3 Questions with Christopher Gavigan, co-founder of Prima
Christopher Gavigan, co-founder of The Honest Co., is making moves in the CBD space with the launch of his direct-to-consumer beauty and wellness brand Prima. It marks his first step in the industry post-The Honest Co. Prima, which is debuting with three products — an ingestible, a face oil and a face moisturizer — raised a $3.3 million seed round led by Lerer Hippeau in 2018.
Glossy caught up with Gavigan to talk about the cluttered CBD space, Prima’s plans to stand out and the effects of the first-ever FDA hearing on CBD.
How are you differentiating Prima from other CBD brands?
We built Prima as a purpose-driven brand. We value transparency, accountability and social impact. We will connect with customers in a variety of ways: chat, social, events, text and through our Prima Self-Care Concierge, eight in-house consultants that are experts on all things science, nature and health. Our core commitment is to be education-first and to elevate science-driven plant wellness for all. Customers can even set up time to call one of the founders at any time.
How did you prepare for the launch of Prima?
We did active listening and did formal consumer insights gathering over three months with 15 people, plus thousands in a digital survey, to ensure our gut intuitions were correct. One of our deep goals is to make wellness and a plant-based lifestyle more [physically] accessible, normalized and easy. Prima is for everyone, since hemp cannabinoids are universal wellness tools.
What’s your reaction to the recent FDA hearing that found conflicting views on cannabis?
The inaugural FDA public hearing on CBD marked a historic moment. Many current CBD brand leaders have not operated in consumer products and are left to decide what is safe and appropriate without the full knowledge or experience of the science, batching and testing principles, and legal parameters. This is why Prima has built our own industry-defining standards and responsible safety practices. I welcome the FDA to act swiftly and decisively, since there are many consumers who are looking to brands to be the trusted resource and many are falling short. — Emma Sandler
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On our reading list
Companies with CBD products are pushing the FDA to ease up on regulations.
Ulta Beauty prepares for international expansion, with Canada up first.
Mega beauty influencer Jaclyn Hill announces her namesake line.