This week, I probe into the state of Origins and its latest partnership.
Across the board, heritage beauty companies are taking chances to appeal to millennial and Gen-Z shoppers. And Estée Lauder Companies’ Origins is no different.
Origins is one of ELC’s original portfolio brands and was built in 1990 on the premise of natural skin care. Considering its debut was over 30 years ago, it was well before the clean, vegan or cruelty-free reckonings that have dominated beauty conversations in the last decade. And while clean is considered table stakes for some brands and consumers, there has been a backlash to the meaning of “clean,” in tandem with the rise of clinical or science-backed beauty.
Considering Origins’ own ethos — “the power of nature with the potency of science” — calling attention to its original proposition is smart. Following the playbook of sister brands Clinique and Estée Lauder, which recently tapped younger faces like Emilia Clarke as global brand ambassador and Amanda Gorman as global changemaker, respectively, Origins announced urban farmer, poet and model Indy Officinalis as its first global influencer on Tuesday.
“We have always recognized the power of influencers as key contributors to our brand’s narrative. Influencers, like Indy, offer a fresh, unique point of view that is both relatable and aspirational,” said Ada Lien, svp and general manager at Origins. “These partnerships are mutually beneficial and offer talent extended reach beyond their social platforms, while bringing new eyes to our brand and innovative ways to connect with new consumers … We seek talent and content creators, like Indy, who share Origins’ core values, offer a diverse and inclusive point of view, and value our global citizenship commitment to social impact and environmental justice.”
Though Lien said the brand has worked with content creators in the past, this is its first influencer partnership on a global scale. Officinalis, an IMG-signed model with 97.8K Instagram followers, will be featured in multiple brand campaigns, including for its Origins Green the Planet mission to combat climate change. Consumers will begin seeing the assets across channels in spring 2022.
Like Gorman, Officinalis is not known simply for her beauty, style or Instagram prowess; rather, she is best recognized for her community activism. She runs a rooftop garden on skid row in downtown Los Angeles, where she gives food to the homeless. Plus, she’s in the middle of establishing a BIPOC urban farm in L.A., where she plans to teach Black and brown youth. In fact, Officinalis is not much like the traditional beauty influencer at all. She’s more of sunscreen-lip-balm-and-go kind of girl. But that’s part of the point.
“I’m at the farm all day and do so much work outside, so I keep my makeup natural. You know when you’re at an outside wedding, and all the makeup gets in your eyes and starts running down your face? That’s not me,” she told me last month. But Officinalis did underscore her use of Origins’ mega-mushroom products created with Dr. Andrew Weill as being part of her skin-care routine even before the brand reached out.
“Most of my free time and my happiest moments are when I’m outside foraging for mushrooms. Having studied them in school and worked on farms across the U.S., I’ve realized the true power of mushrooms,” she said. In many ways that synergy around mushrooms sealed the deal for the two parties. “Origins and I are passionate about all of the same things. We have the same core values such as caring for the planet, climate justice, community education and, of course, the mushrooms. We met through Zoom and clicked,” she said.
Lien added, “We noticed Indy was becoming a rising authority on the power of mushrooms with her passionate following. When we first
Mushrooms have become a trending obsession in beauty and wellness. In Glossy-exclusive Launchmetrics research, Herbivore and Biossance were the leaders in generating buzz for mushroom-infused skin products in the first eight months of 2021. But, of course, neither mushrooms nor Officinalis will be the only factors to bring Origins back to relevancy.
Last week, Estée Lauder Companies reported net sales of $4.4 billion for its first quarter of 2022, which was an increase of 23% year-over-year. Though 13 ELC brands were called out for double-digit growth by CEO Fabrizio Freda, Origins was not mentioned. Still, Lien said the brand benefitted from the rise of beauty as self-care during the pandemic.
“In 2021, we’ve seen key subcategory growth of our bath and body lines as consumers continue to spend more time taking care of their skin from head to toe,” said Lien. And of the brands online and retail mix, she added, “Origins has always had a strong online business with Origins.com, which saw notable upticks as consumers gravitated to the dynamic experience and ease of shopping online. Origins has seen consistent site traffic increase since early 2020. Now, we are seeing our consumers coming back to retail.”
Notably, Origins is a natural beauty brand, but it does not compete directly with natural beauty brands, according to Inès Durand, Similarweb industry manager of beauty and personal care. On Amazon, Origins finds itself most in line with Clinique in facial skin care, based on shared customers. More than one in five viewers of Origins products also sees a Clinique product page in the same session. ELC’s Clinique, too, has been going through its own retooling to attract millennial and Gen-Z shoppers. In August, Clinique’s hero Black Honey found virality on TikTok.
On a broader competitive base, Lancôme is the brand that shares the biggest customer overlap for overall skin-care products, with 22% of its viewership also viewing an Origins product. Origins lost market share year-over-year to Lancôme and Estée Lauder in the facial skin-care subcategory, per Similiarweb 2021 third-quarter data.
But Lien is not concerned. “We are proud of being a catalyst in this conversation while
And that is certainly important for Officinalis. “Origins is helping me amplify what I already do,” she said. “We have a shared vision of creating a more sustainable future and are really investing our time and energy into sustainable agriculture. Our partnership is based on authenticity and shared goals, which is what a lot of people want to see more of.”
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