Sometimes the secret to great skin needs to be shared. That’s the idea behind Darphin — a 60-year-old natural beauty brand under The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. umbrella — and its new approach to working with influencers to attract new customers.

With its first big influencer push, launching this week, the brand is attempting to connect with the audiences of micro-influencers (which have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers, according to most), while at the same time playing up its botanical-based heritage, said Ali Wente, Darphin North America’s vice president and general manager. Darphin has been the type of brand that mothers pass on to their daughters, she said, and Darphin is now approaching influencers who are newer to beauty in order to instill that same type of discovery.

“We’ve been working with influencers who do a lot of travel, style and design, but are new to beauty,” she said, adding that the brand opted to work with those outside of beauty in order play up a lifestyle that aligned with the brand’s French heritage.  “You have to test a lot of influencers and then study the data to see where the best fits are,” she said.

“We’ve worked with influencers with larger followings and micro-followings, and those who have 25,000 to 100,000 followers are very excited about the brand. They play in a meaningful way, and their engagement is very high.” According to Wente, Darphin has seen 3 percent more engagement (measured by likes and comments) from micro-influencer posts than posts by big-name influencers, with upward of 1 million followers.

“The more followers you have, the more difficult it becomes to stay in touch with people,” said Katya Bychkova, a new Darphin influencer, who operates under the Instagram handle StyleSprinter and has 27,000 followers. “Having that intimate connection is crucial while interacting on social media. Many big influencers are losing the touch with their community.”

Bychkova’s followers typically fall in the 25- to 35-year-old age range and are women living in metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

“[Consumers] are looking for the best-of-the-best products from many different brands — the days of three-step systems from one skin-care line are gone. The trick here is to start telling Darphin’s story through the narrative of everyday people [who are] influencers,” she said. Darphin is working with a diverse range of influencers, including mothers, and fitness and travel influencers and providing them the freedom to showcase products as they wish.

Along with Bychkova, Darphin has also started working with influencers Sandra Shehab (200,000 followers), Melany Rodriguez (13,100 followers) and Bridget Helene (529,000 followers), among others.

On Tuesday, the brand also partnered with the French restaurant and bakery Ladurée for an event called “Darphin at the Ladurée Marché” in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood. The event transformed the garden area of Ladurée into a Parisian market with booths of farm-fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers, in addition to showcasing best-selling and new Darphin products to tie in the brand’s botanical usage and the French lifestyle. Darphin incorporates flowers and plants, such as English marigold, clary sage, cogon grass and bergamot, into its products.

As natural beauty continues to take over market share, older brands in the space are looking at ways to stay relevant. L’Oréal USA  announced on Wednesday that Garnier has become the first mass-market skin-care label to achieve Cradle to Cradle sustainability certification for five items in its SkinActive line, and also recently launched Seed Phytonutrients, a line entirely dedicated to natural beauty. The organic and natural skin-care market is expected to reach $25.1 billion by 2025, according to a March 2018 report from Grand View Research, and the biggest consumer group is millennials.

But Darphin is not specifically targeting a certain group of women in its marketing push, Wente said.

“We are learning about who our customer can be. I don’t want to limit us to going after one target consumer; there’s a complex consumer base in the U.S.,” she said.

Despite only recently beginning to work with influencers for its North American social media strategy, Wente said the already-crowded space is not a concern.

“[Social media] is evolving and changing every day. … Smaller brands [like ours] have faced challenges, but I think we’ve done well at connecting with people who care about the brand,” she said. “Today, engaging influencers is essential; the consumer today is getting her news, her information and her trends on her phone, from people she aspires to be like, people she enjoys and people she relates to. The key is finding the right, authentic matches for your brand.”

Darphin will be working with influencers to produce Instagram posts over the next six months by featuring their cult-favorite products and tips infused with brand storytelling. In addition, they’ll work with Ladurée to host another marketplace experience that will be open to the public in the fall, Wente said.

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