Clean beauty and lifestyle brand Beekman1802’s newest collaboration demonstrates the power of olfactory holiday nostalgia.
For the 2023 holiday season, the brand partnered with Nestlé Toll House to release a line of six cookie-scented body-care products. The limited-edition line generated more than $1.6 million in one day despite the fact that customers couldn’t smell the products before purchasing.
“So many people have so many great memories of making cookies with their loved ones during the holiday time,” Beekman1802 co-founder Brent Ridge told Glossy. “[This collaboration] was about making a connection with these powerful memories.”
The Beekman1802 team credits the collaboration’s success to an omnichannel approach, nostalgia, a mutually beneficial collaboration structure and an organic brand overlap with Nestlé. Sales tallied more than $1 million during the first 60 minutes of the November 10 launch and exceeded $1.6 million across QVC and DTC by the end of the day, according to Beekman1802.
“The best collaborations are surprising but not confusing,” said Beekman1802 co-founder Josh Kilmer-Purcell. “You want two brands that you would never expect to be together but share some of the same brand values in the consumers’ minds.”
When it comes to Beekman1802 and Nestlé, these values include family, wholesomeness, quality, kindness and a multi-generational appeal — Ridge calls Beekman a “mother-daughter line.”
“Particularly these days, when customer acquisition costs are so expensive, to be able to tap into an existing customer base that has that overlap with your own brand values makes it a win-win,” said Ridge.
The collaboration features five products: hand cream, hand and body wash, whipped body cream, lip balm and bar soap. Prices range from $15-$39. The collaboration was excluded from Beekman1802’s Black Friday promotions but the items were sold in bundles and with bonus items, like gift bags, on QVC before they sold out.
The collaboration’s sales rush started during a QVC live shopping event with co-founders Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell on November 10. As each of the products sold out, shoppers were able to head to Beekman1802’s site to complete their purchase. This DTC rush continued for two days, and sales continued to flow in through Cyber Monday when total sales for the collaboration neared $2 million, according to Beekman1802. Total DTC sales reached $268,000, while QVC sales exceeded $1.6 million. Every product in the collab is currently sold out except the hand cream. And, as of now, the products will not be returning. QVC is the exclusive retail partner for the collaboration.
Another key piece of the success was a mutually beneficial collaboration structure where profits are shared. “Since we took the risk in producing the inventory and selling it, [Nestlé] was very gracious in waiving what would be a traditional licensing fee,” said Ridge. “We thought about it more like a social media collab with product.”
Both beauty and baking have their best sales in the fourth quarter, Ridge said, so both companies were motivated to make this a successful endeavor.
The Beekman1802 team teased the collaboration over social media and email for several days before it launched. “[Nestlé] has a huge email list and a strong social following, so we did a Collabs post on Instagram together and they allowed us to email the collection to not only their huge customer list, but to their employee list, as well,” said Brad Farrrell, CMO at Beekman1802. Nestlé currently employs around 275,000 people.
As of this week, Nestlé has 631,000 followers on Instagram across its primary and Toll House-focused accounts, and Beekman1802 has 139,000. “There was a lot of really great cross-pollination of the two brands to help us acquire each other’s customers,” Farrell told Glossy.
A representative from Nestlé told Glossy that, while there is no way for the brand to quantify the conversation of Beekman1802 customers into Nestlé brick-and-mortar shoppers, the brand reports that, anecdotally, it saw a lot of excitement from Nestlé fans across social media platforms.
Beekman1802 chief digital officer David Baker told Glossy that 40% of the brand’s DTC sales of the collaboration were to new customers. What’s more, existing customers who shopped the collab bought two extra products on average, he said.
“With this collaboration, our engagement was over 100% higher than normal on TikTok and Instagram,” said Farrell. He credited that to the corresponding imagery, citing the “rich texture of our products sitting in cookie dough,” as well as the videos featuring a proxy to the customer who was able to smell and describe the product. Videos feature a “man on the street”-style smell test, as well as challenges between Nestlé and Beekman1802.
To launch the collab, the team used a TikTok video of Nestlé Toll House corporate chef Meredith Tomason challenging Beekman1802 head of product development Ayesha Bshero to “dupe” the smell of fresh baked cookies. It aired to Beekman1802’s 111,000 TikTok followers and was used to market the collab on Instagram.
Still, the majority of the virality started through live selling on television. As Glossy previously reported, QVC has been an important part of Beekman1802’s business model since 2018 when it first joined a program on HSN. Beekman1802 expanded to QVC in 2019 and with livestream shopping software company Livescale in 2021. Beekman invests in a variety of assets to increase the attention of TV shoppers, including custom animations, videos and photography. Co-founders Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell are married and add levity to on-air appearances through banter and a conversational tone. They have also included baby goats to represent their hero ingredient, goat milk, in segments.
Other struggles the team pointed out were that cookie-scented products are rarely considered prestige and holiday scents have the reputation of being harsh on sensitive skin. So, Beekman1802 invested in a more elevated scent with behemoth fragrance house Givaudan. The perfume house used its new Z-biome fragrance technology, which is focused on the health of the skin microbiome through gentler ingredients than those used with traditional fragrances. The formulas are, therefore, well-suited for sensitive skin, which is a large selling point.
“Microbiome-friendly scents are great for those who have had reactions to fragrances and want to avoid scents irritating their skin,” said Bshero. Nailing the scent took 17 iterations trialed over a month. “Crafting a cookie fragrance is surprisingly complex. … Our approach was to begin with an unconventional base: toasted marshmallow. From there, we wove in rich cocoa, a foundational note of brown sugar and hints of butterscotch. This combination culminated in the evocative scent of cookies fresh from the oven.”
Beekman1802 will continue to develop nostalgia as a key differentiator. Earlier this year, the brand also partnered with Hasbro on a campaign with Mrs. Potato Head, a classic toy launched in 1953, to promote its $49 at-home exfoliating product, Potato Peel. The formula features three acids, potato pulp and goat’s milk as its active ingredients.
The brand’s omnichannel sales strategy includes retailers like Ulta Beauty, Nordstrom, HSN and Amazon. The brand also continues to grow its DTC presence, including recently adding Shopify Markets Pro to expand internationally. Top sales of the collaboration in international markets were in Canada, Japan and Estonia.
“Beekman1802’s successful launch of Markets Pro this summer has allowed them to effortlessly sell across the globe, with significant markets in Canada, the U.K., France, Japan and Australia,” said Rohit Mishra, director of product at Shopify.