Cover FX, a 21-year-old clean makeup brand that often focuses on multi-use products, is trying to make itself stand out in the clean category.
Cover FX launched its first-ever mascara on Wednesday, denoting its entrance into the pure-play eye category. The mascara is sold exclusively on CoverFX.com until September, when it will expand to Ulta Beauty. Cover FX’s aim is to be known as a high-performance clean beauty brand, in the same vein that Lawless Beauty and Kjaer Weis are known for medium- to high-coverage clean complexion products. Cover FX is sold through Ulta Beauty and Dermstore, but does not have distribution at a clean beauty retailer. Nathalie Manivong, Cover FX evp of omnichannel marketing, said the brand is gearing up for a rebranding by the end of the year.
“I want to build back this community that we lost throughout the years,” said Manivong. “Since last year, you will see that we’ve changed our branding and our color scheme, and how we talk to our community to engage them more. I want them to understand that Cover FX has been here [in clean beauty] for years — and we have this knowledge that no one can replace.”
In June 2021, its e-commerce site was updated with changes to its navigation tabs and category organization. Cover FX also worked to increase its e-commerce private consultation sessions, which directly increased the average basket size by 25%. Cover FX’s sales for 2021 are expected to remain flat compared to 2020, said a brand spokesperson. 2020 was an outstanding year when the brand: It experienced a 200% year-over-year total sales growth and a 50% year-over-year increase in its DTC e-commerce sales. Skin care, which Cover FX launched in January, now accounts for 16% of overall sales, the spokesperson said.
For the mascara launch, in August and September, Cover FX is working with a mix of 500 paid and unpaid influencers across beauty, lifestyle and sports, as well as mothers and corporate executive figures. In July 2020, Cover FX shifted its influencer strategy from centering on in-person events to increase the number of influencers it could work with at any given time. In September, Cover FX will partner on a digital campaign with Ulta Beauty and will distribute 25,000 mascara units with an undisclosed subscription box partner.
“This year, we’ve shifted our social strategy to prioritize community and give our channels an ownable voice that reflects the diversity of our loyal consumer base,” said Monique Meneses, Cover FX director of social strategy and copy. “We’ve leaned heavily into product education and highlighted the core tenets of our brand philosophy: clean ingredients and high-performance formulas.”
Overall, makeup products began to see a sales rebound over the last quarter, as the weather improved and social events began to return, amid more readily available Covid-19 vaccinations. According to NPD data, for the second quarter of 2021, makeup sales increased 71% year-over-year to $1.7 billion. However, the pace of vaccination has slowed within the U.S., and the Delta variant (and others) has begun to appear; mask requirements are quickly gaining favor again. In any case, eye products such as mascara will likely be one of the few resilient sales opportunities for makeup products.
“I’m very cautious [about makeup’s recovery], to be honest,” said Manivong. “[Post-quarantine] has helped change the game for the beauty industry, because people are buying lipstick, but I’m not sure it’s going to last through to winter.
She added that Cover FX’s new product development and marketing for 2022 and 2023 will be focused acutely on products and messaging that address women’s confidence. The brand plans to launch a new foundation in the first quarter of 2022.