This week, I exclusively cover Kora Organics, an early pioneer of the organic beauty movement, and its plans to bring its organic messaging into the mainstream.
Miranda Kerr, founder and CEO of Kora Organics, has been very busy lately.
Her 14-year-old organic skin-care and lifestyle brand relaunched its website on Aug. 29 with a refreshed lifestyle blog, elevated visual assets, more sophisticated product information pages and simple product organization. On social, the brand launched new programming including an education series from Kerr on tips for organic living across home, skin and body, nutrition, and mind and spirit. It also introduced a new mentorship program for beauty founders, led by Kerr, to support the organic lifestyle movement.
Kora Organics has gone through several evolutions and packaging upgrades over the years. Some of those changes were practical, including switching to a more sustainable refillable product system and making general product upgrades as innovations became more available and compatible with certified organic products. But the latest changes are across the business and focused on amplifying the brand’s organic messaging, in order to grow and spread the gospel of organic living.
Kora Organics is distributed direct to consumer in over 30 countries via e-commerce, and it counts Sephora as its primary U.S. retail partner. Kerr owns 95% of the brand, with a silent partner owning the other 5%. Lauren Elias, the gm and CMO of Kora Organics who has been in her role for approximately 18 months, said the brand’s sales were flat when she joined. But this year, the brand expects to grow its sales by more than 40% year-over-year, she said.
“I want [Kora Organics] to always be [about] an uplifting experience, not just a monotonous skin-care routine where you’re just slapping on your products,” said Miranda Kerr, founder and CEO of Kora Organics. “It’s rewarding for me to be able to help people in this way, with something that I’m really passionate about and have been fortunate enough to study and learn about.”
Kora Organics has invested in clinical trials to demonstrate the efficacy of its products and underscore that organic ingredients and formulas are just as effective as other beauty products. Now, all of its product information pages show clinical results and before-and-after photos, and select results appear in the brand’s social posts and paid ads. According to Kerr, the fact that Kora Organics is certified by two international certification bodies — Cosmetic Organic and Natural Standard, or COSMOS, and EcoCert — takes it a step beyond the undefined and unregulated clean beauty movement. More work and investment have had to go into adhering to organic standardized regulations and practices, she said. And that perspective is one she’s eager to share in the next phase of the brand’s growth.
“Kora Organics is so much more than clean beauty. … People might say, ‘[Kora Organics] is in the clean beauty category.’ But [that’s because] there is no certified organic [beauty] category,” said Kerr.
Kora Organics worked with two outside management and branding agencies over a six-month period in 2022 before sketching out its growth strategy. The first, Kearney, did a quantitative analysis and looked into market share opportunities and white spaces. The other agency, Sterling, conducted over 16 focus groups and, via in-depth virtual interviews, surveyed 100 customers ages 25-45 about their perception of Kora Organics’ branding, creative assets, messaging and packaging to gather feedback.
Elias said Kora Organics’ brand awareness is growing and acquiring consumers in geographies like Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. Kora Organics’ core customer demo is between the ages of 25-35, but it’s seeing growth among customers over 40.
“It’s been great that we’re able to expand and capture slightly older customers who have more serious skin concerns [because] they trust our products to get the same results [as dermatology brands and medical spas],” said Elias.
The brand has concentrated on growing its awareness without growing its marketing budget. It’s relied on an ambitious partnership strategy, leveraging both the organic lifestyle of the brand and Kerr’s public persona. In March, Kerr spoke onstage at the popular SXSW festival and has appeared on various podcasts as a guest. Kora Organics created a custom, limited-edition nutrition program with Sakara Life in June, and it debuted a smoothie collaboration with high-end grocer Erewhon earlier this month. In 2024, Kora Organics will launch an ambassador program and a new rewards program. The ambassador program will be structured like a small advisory board comprising 20 or fewer experts from different fields and categories like dermatology, sustainability or organic food.
“Our mission is to differentiate ourselves further. This is not just clean beauty, but [it’s more like] clean on steroids,” said Elias. “It’s just a matter of time and momentum that the organic skin-care market also takes off.”
Other brands operating in the organic space include 100% Pure and Figaro Apothecary, while others like Cocokind feature several organic products among a larger portfolio. Mordor Intelligence estimates the global organic skin-care products market size is worth $7.72 billion and will grow to $12.5 billion by 2028.
As the brand matures, it’s also adding new growth categories — namely, anti-aging. Kora Organics launched a retinol-alternative serum featuring bakuchiol in April and, this month, it debuted a retinol-alternative moisturizer featuring bakuchiol. Kerr said this new category partially arose out of consumer demand, particularly in the U.S.. It was also driven by her skin-care needs, having celebrated her 40th birthday in April, she said. Overall, the brand is reaching an inflection point of operating between founder intuition and growth-focused strategy. Kerr said she has entertained the idea of bringing a seasoned executive on board to serve as CEO but, for now, has no plans to step aside.
“We are still a relatively small fish in the big sea against the big [brands] run by far more experienced professionals who have billions of dollars behind them,” said Kerr. “Kora Organics is me doing the best I can to try and give people good results with the most effective products that are healthy for them.”
Inside our coverage:
Ulta Beauty’s next venture: The Joy Project.
Sabrina Elba talks about creating S’able Labs with her husband Idris Elba.
Glossy+ Research shows how brands and influencers use YouTube Shorts.
What we’re reading:
Can better data help the beauty industry’s waste problem?
L’Oréal invests in Chinese biotech company Shinehigh Innovation.
Rhode plans to launch makeup.