After spending time consulting and working at Charlotte Tilbury, Emily Bromfield was motivated to join Dr. Barbara Sturm because she considered it the next groundbreaking brand. Bromfield joined the luxury skin-care brand in Nov. 2019, just a few months before Covid-19 spread globally. The pandemic forced Bromfield and founder Dr. Sturm to rethink their marketing plans, with a new focus on digital. That included relaunching the website, as well as offering digital skin-care consultations and virtual skin-care masterclasses led by Dr. Sturm herself. Recently, Dr. Barbara Sturm has turned its attention back to the physical world, and even more broadly than before, by venturing into pop-ups, out-of-home advertising and a new partnership with Frieze Art Fair. The privately-held company does not share revenue or growth figures but disclosed in April that Oprah Winfrey had invested in the company.
What have been your biggest accomplishments in the last year?
“We’ve seen an explosion of brand love in the last 12 months. The engagement and understanding of the brand, and the connection that we have [with our community] has been phenomenal. We’ve been driving that through interacting with our customers, rather than ramming a message down their throats. We did a New York takeover in November last year, where we created our own newspaper and took over a newspaper stand for the weekend. It was all about education and telling people about the philosophy, and reclaiming the messaging to the consumer. It was the first time we’d ever done a consumer-facing event. Previously, this brand [focused on] pop-up facial clinics for celebrities during key cultural moments, like the Met Gala or the Oscars. We then evolved that into top-customer events with our spa in New York. But [the newspaper campaign] was the first time anyone who wanted to interact with us could. People met the team, got free samples or had a green matcha drink on us. We had queues around the block.
We also started a pop-up partnership with Frieze Art Fair [for attendees]. We’ve always been interested in art, and the art crowd loves our brand. We didn’t want to be a skin-care brand pretending to be artsy — it’s more to give the collectors’ visitors an anti-inflammatory moment, where they can calm down. We had red light therapy, a skin tea drink and express facials.”
How has the role of marketing changed?
“A marketer’s role used to be promoting a new product and discovering market trends to sell a product. That is absolutely not the case anymore. Marketers have a great amount of responsibility to consumers; you’re like a community manager and have a responsibility to be transparent, and [care about] how they feel. A marketer’s role is no longer just a commercial goal.”
What excites you most about this evolution?
“The most interesting part is how expensive it has become to do marketing these days. Everything’s pay-to-play, and it’s a very crowded marketplace right now in skin care; everyone thinks they can launch a skin-care brand, and that drives up the prices for everyone. You either have to compete in that world or stand out and do marketing differently. There’s been an interesting return to out-of-home [advertising] and traditional print media. Because marketing’s become so difficult, it’s forcing you to always be creative.”
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