A year after its October 2018 debut, personal-care brand Flamingo is pushing past razors and wax kits with its fifth product, Mons Mist, launched Tuesday. It’s a spray to condition pubic hair and skin.
“As we look ahead, we want to round out the suite of choices, which supports whatever your routine is, whether you do or don’t have hair,” said Allie Melnick, Flamingo gm. Mons Mist is similar to Fur’s hero product, which is sold in Ulta Beauty, and relays a non-judgmental and body-conscious attitude to consumers.
Flamingo was born out of Harry’s Inc.’s incubator and is part of a class of digitally native women’s brands that are looking to upend the razor market, much in the way that Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s took aim at the men’s market. But over the past 12 months, the razor market has shifted. Target is offering its own private-label razor through Goodfellow & Co, while Walmart has an exclusive partnership with P&G and Amazon has an exclusive deal with Bic. Within the women’s space, brands like Billie have also gone toe-to-toe with Flamingo, even relying on similar out-of-home campaigns. Flamingo rolled out to all 1,800 Target stores in February.
To date, Flamingo has had 1.5 million unique customers based on those who bought razor handles or wax kits, said Melnick. With the wax kit and retail razor price at $10, Glossy estimates Flamingo netted at least $15 million in sales, though Melnick noted the number does not factor in return purchases or multiple purchases in a single order. Melnick said 80% of Flamingo customers repurchase blades after buying a handle.
However, according to data from Rakuten Intelligence, Flamingo has not been able to penetrate the women’s shaving market as successfully as Billie or Harry’s. Rakuten data did not provide sales figures but shared that Billie’s sales volume was 290% times higher in October 2019 compared to the year prior and that Harry’s sales to women also increased 30% over the past year. A Flamingo spokesperson disputes these figures and assessment but the brand declined to site sales growth, only saying it surpassed its undisclosed one-year sales target within a month of launch and that the business has since grown 400% between then and October 2019. Rakuten reported Flamingo’s sales volume for September was on par with sales around the brand’s launch in October 2018, though it did see significant spikes in January, July and August.
“We know women are buying razors from brands not tailored to them, and Flamingo is not resonating as well,” said Mary Pietsch, Rakuten Intelligence analyst. Pietsch said it is likely that, because Billie launched in 2017, it got a leg up in consumer awareness. Additionally, Billie and Harry’s offer subscription models while Flamingo does not.
To coincide with Flamingo’s product expansion plans, the brand is relying on a curious “The Bush 2020” marketing campaign, which is meant to poke fun at uncomfortable conversations that exist around body hair and women’s vaginas. The Bush 2020 will have a pop-up designed to look like a campaign headquarters in New York City’s Soho neighborhood, with adjacent out-of-home posters, a full-page ad in The New York Times news section dubbed a “pubic service announcement,” a micro-site and a 1-800 number customers can call to learn about the product launch.
Despite the double-entendre reference to the Republican political family, Melnick said Flamingo is not making a political statement. “We wanted to have a bit of play and fun with this,” she said.
Melnick said that 40% of Flamingo’s wax customers were new to the hair removal method, suggesting that Flamingo has the ability to change behavior. Flamingo sees Mons Mist as a similar opportunity — it hopes it can get customers to it try out, particularly to condition and soften the hair as one preps for waxing or shaving.
Whether the brand’s absurdist humor in The Bush 2020 will resonate with consumers or leave them confused is yet to be determined. Brand attempts to make light of certain topics have backfired, most recently with Hers facing backlash surrounding its promotion of the prescription medication propranolol in online ads — customers felt the brand was downplaying the seriousness of the drug through its lighthearted ad copy. Danielle Chocron, managing director of beauty marketing agency Blonde & Co., said that if a brand like Flamingo is already known for this kind of humor, then it makes sense. However, she would not personally recommend this type of tactic to clients due to the current political climate.
“The beauty industry is not that funny,” she said. “I think it needs to be authentic to the brand, so if they’re known for that, then they have that permission. It feels like things are so at stake right now, and people are so tense around what is going on [in politics]. I’m not sure this is the greatest idea.”