Clique Brands, the owner of digital publications Who What Wear and Byrdie, is launching its first beauty brand in summer 2019. The company used eight different data sets to expand its private-label footprint.
To start, Clique will debut a clean skin-care brand (the name has yet to be disclosed), which will have “accessible” prices and launch in 1,500 unnamed retail doors (and a total of 2,000 within two years). In early 2020, a prestige color cosmetics brand will follow. This follows the company’s existing fashion strategy: Clique currently has a Target-exclusive retail partnership through Who What Wear which began in January 2016. In addition, it has an activewear line called JoyLab created in partnership with and owned by Target that launched in October 2017. Clique’s new beauty brand represents yet another example of how media companies are widening their revenue streams outside of traditional subscriptions and advertising. Popsugar began licensing its name for the brand Beauty by Popsugar in March, while Refinery29 teamed up with Revlon on a line of products during New York Fashion Week.
To house all of its upcoming brands, Clique has formed a new umbrella company called Offspring Beauty Co.; Michael Giordano was hired in October as COO for Offspring and, currently, a total of 50 products are under development. The creation of Offspring also marks a shift for Clique’s business as the new beauty line will be the first brand for Clique with its own e-commerce site. Offspring will also be the vendor of record and thus responsible for all the inventory and distribution to multiple retail partners.
“The key reason for [creating Offspring] is to separate the business models that are so different. Clique is largely still media based, and these new brands will be wholesale and direct commerce,” said Katherine Power, co-founder and CEO of Clique Brands. “Doing so allowed us to create this new entity that we can fund separately.” Offspring closed an undisclosed seed funding round in the fall and will also begin a Series A round in May 2019 to add capital and bring in new investors with specific experience in beauty and e-commerce.”
Clique Brands, which reaches over 30 million people monthly through its six websites, its newsletters and its social media channels, typically monetizes through affiliate links in addition to sponsored content, website ads and its Target partnership. Collectively, its media sites refer 20,000 products a month across 300 different retailers, Power said. Meanwhile, Clique has been able to amass user data to inform its business and brand strategy for its new beauty brand.
“We wanted more control [compared to our Target partnership] over the product and customer experience, and this [also] gives us the opportunity to scale these brands a lot more quickly,” Melanie Bender, gm of the unnamed brand, said.
Clique started developing its first beauty brand one year ago internally and brainstormed with its brand team, insights team and editors to find opportunities in beauty, she said. What Clique found was that across drugstore and major retail chains, consumers were not satisfied with the skin-care offerings. Following this, Clique turned to its Instagram and its private Facebook group, The Beauty Line, which has over 156,000 followers, to gather data on followers’ lifestyles, shopping behavior and demographics, as well as to offer them the opportunity to test the products. This allowed Clique to see if what was brainstormed was hitting the mark in terms of relevance before Clique would go back and refine its beauty brand and product assortment. Clique also looked at eight different data sets including its own editorial data and affiliate data, social media insights, and focus groups with editors and influencers to inform the brand and product creation, such as price points, brand positioning and names of the brand and products.
“That’s our process of iteration: creating a hypothesis, testing it at a large scale, creating a product and then iterating in a tight loop,” said Bender.