Building on its lifestyle-centric concept, hair-care brand R+Co launched on Friday a collection of cosmetics, including a fragrance gel and a brow gel.
The products initially debuted at New York Fashion Week and are now available for sale on RandCo.com, in retail partners including Nordstrom and DermStore, and in select salons. They were born out of the founders’ experience backstage during fashion shows and photo shoots, when they’d see stylists concoct tricks like using hair gel to tame brows and beards.
The hair-care brand sees these products as experiments, rather than full-blown category expansions, and traversing across product segments is an activity more hair-care brands are getting behind. In December 2018, luxury indie hair brand Cuvée launched a body oil. Celebrity Thalía Sodi launched an eponymous hair-care brand in January 2019 and is already diving deeper into beauty and cosmetics, according to WWD. This month alone, Briogeo ventured into wellness with two new products, and Ouai launched a hair-and-body product, building on its entrance into the body category in June 2017. It launched a fragrance in November 2018.
“Why isolate [R+Co] to just the shower or the bathroom?” said Daniel Langer, president of R+Co. “It is an experiential brand, so from the moment our customers wake up, wherever they may go, they are interacting with the product.”
The hair-care market, which is expected to reach nearly $13 billion in the U.S. in 2019, per Statista, has been poised for disruption and innovation for some time; distribution and product offerings have remained relatively unchanged. But more brands have been cropping up to tackle this: On the experience front, Madison Reed recently raised $51 million dollars to rapidly grow its single-service salons. Meanwhile, clean beauty has recently begun moving into hair care, and companies like Prose and Function of Beauty have been popping up to offer customized shampoo and conditioner formulas.
For R+Co, its approach to innovation has been about bringing “fun” to the category through its online merchandise assortment of T-shirts and skateboards, and its collaborations. Through its partnership with SoulCycle, R+Co products were stocked in locker rooms from November to December 2018.
“Hair and beauty are unique categories, in that it’s important to be present where customers need the products, whether that is the hair salon or at the spin studio,” said Langer.
The idea of building a beauty lifestyle brand is not a new concept. But when a brand markets itself as such, it can be easier to branch into new categories; it’s in keeping with the brand’s existing ethos. When Briogeo recently launched into the wellness space, the brand was not concerned about alienating or confusing customers because it had already established itself as a brand that could bridge categories.
“If you create a community with your customer, and [develop] trust and consistency in delivering highly effective clean and thoughtful products, then if you branch out, it’s something that will excite the customer,” said Nancy Twine, Briogeo founder and CEO.
For Ouai, the brand saw that the benefit of being socially connected (it has 777,000 followers on Instagram and 104,000 likes on Facebook) was driving loyalty and trust, said Hannah Beals, director of marketing for Ouai Haircare. This, in turn, made entering each new category a relatively seamless transition.
“There’s definitely more room to experiment, but we use our social [channels] to have two-way conversations with our community and make educated moves into new categories,” she said.
That is the main reason why R+Co opted to debut its new products during NYFW, where the brand styled shows like Anna Sui. Because of R+Co’s heritage as a professional hair-care brand, being at NYFW reinforced a sense of brand authenticity. What’s more, the potentially significant earned media value it could derive from the exposure made it worthwhile, Langer said.
“It provides authenticity and credibility to the products,” he said. “There is a possibility to expand [cosmetics and fragrance] further, so long as we remain true to the DNA of the brand, which is celebrating the hairstyle and the movement of the beauty industry.”