When it came time for Korres, a 22-year-old brand from Greece, to relaunch in the United States, founder Georgios Korres knew it needed help.
In November 2017, Morgan Stanley invested over $56 million into Korres, which has provided the brand the ability to push further into international markets, starting with the U.S. — it’s largest beauty market in the world, valued at $84 billion in 2016, compared to Greece at $999 million (£862 million), according to Statista. Although the brand has been sold in stores and online at Sephora for a few years, and at a few specialty boutiques within the U.S, the brand was traditionally sold in Greek pharmacies where everyone from grandmothers to their grandchildren was using it. The result was a disconnect and translation needed in order to expand the U.S. presence, because of the short attention span and interest cycles of the American consumer, Korres said.
“Everyone was telling me the brand felt very European, and I thought it was a compliment, but it meant they didn’t get it,” he said.
The brand had to create a different approach for the American consumer and hired a creative agency. From there the agency took over all marketing strategies and budget for the relaunch and overhauled the e-commerce website, expanding the social media presence with a big focus on video and also a new tagline. The first leg of the relaunch, which began on May 6, was to direct traffic to Korres products at Sephora. But over the course of the first week, between May 6 and May 12, the Korres’s own e-commerce site saw a 27 percent new jump in customers, with an average of order size of $58.47 – a 41 percent increase – boosting the revenue of the brand by 140 percent.
Pivot to video
The first step was tackling the launch of Korres Wild Rose 15% Vitamin C Spotless Serum by creating a commercial and other social media assets around it, Ian Wishingrad, founder of BigEyedWish, the agency tapped by Korres, said. But the challenge was how to deploy the media and make sure it focused on revenue-generating content and brand awareness, especially since brand awareness does not return a dividend immediately, he said. The brand, therefore, focused on promoting its new Wild Rose 15% Vitamin C Spotless Serum at first, rather than the overall brand, and produced short, mobile-ready videos that featured tight, up-close shots rather than wide-angle cinematic ones.
The idea was to promote the videos on Instagram and social media content and send consumers to Sephora, where Korres already has consumer awareness and loyalty. But as consumers were discovering the brand on Sephora, more and more were also going to the main website to further explore the brand, which had also received a redesign. The conversion rate between people visiting the site and purchasing increased overall by 40 percent to a total of 2.2 percent. The brand is also has promoted its shorter animated videos on Facebook, and plans to build a studio in New York to create more content with BigEyedWish.
One of these short videos, for example, features a young blonde woman surrounded by flowers applying the serum that fades her dark cheek spots, followed by a close-up shot of the product. The whole video is a few seconds long and doesn’t use any text or voice but still evokes a playfulness. The e-commerce site also features a backdrop GIF of real rose petals at the bottom of the bottle softly tumbling around in another Wild Rose product.
“If you look at the brand, we created a feeling the whole way through,” said BigEyedWish founder Ian Wishingrad. “Images were extremely emotional. People need to understand the rational reasons they need the product, but overall, it’s an emotional purchase.”
With more consumers watching more and more digital videos each year — and the consumption of short-form videos rising at an even higher rate, according to a February 2017 study from AOL — it was imperative that there was a focus on video, Wishingrad said.
“It’s the art of omni-channel communication. And it’s not only specific to Korres; [legacy] companies have to figure it out because it’s not as simple to do at a time when it was just billboards and TV media,” he said. “The art of the new direct-to-consumer marketing is not about trying to hook someone in with one session, but with frequency, and to give someone a reason to believe in a brand and see what’s in it for them, so they [will go from] a video to a Google search to the website.”
The brand also had to find an interesting way to romanticize the ingredients with a smaller budget, since beautiful aerial shots of Greece were not possible, in addition to making the product relatable to a variety of skin types.
It partnered with several influencers to impart its message of naturalness and spread the awareness, including raw-food and fitness influencer Sophie Jaffe (@sophie.jaff) and beauty and healthy-lifestyle influencer Aja Dang (@ajadang), both of whom boast over 100,000 followers.
“It’s a challenge to figure out how to choose [a variety] of people but shoot them and communicate in a way that feels uniform,” he said
Following the initial creation of assets for the new product launch, BigEyedWish tackled creating a new tagline, opting for “Natural Greek Beauty” to hone in Korres’s message, replacing the old one of “Modern Greek Apothecary.” This struck a balance between allowing the brand to be creative with its interpretation of the tagline but still spoke to the brand’s heritage, Wishingrad said.
“Another reason those words work is that it doesn’t feel idiomatic to America and then translate weird when in another language,” he said. “But I do like taglines in America that have double entendre, and there’s something about “natural Greek beauty” that feels colloquial, like [someone saying], ‘Oh, she’s a natural Greek beauty.’”
Korres is not the only brand trying to figure out how to update its brand while also incorporating its heritage. Darphin, for example, as a 60-year-old French brand, is trying to introduce its products to more consumers in the U.S., while still maintaining its allure as a French brand. And while Korres is already established in Greece, the idea is that the marketing in the U.S. will be able to translate to other international markets as the brand expands.
But none of the work going into the relaunch would have made sense without a website redesign, which looked very simple in its design features and had a homemade feel to it based on images from the Internet Archive Wayback Machine site, a digital archive. Now the site features more product images and has a fresher, sleeker approach. Wishingrad noted that while it’s still a work in progress, it provides a “seamless functionality” as part of Korres’ quick-to-market strategy.
“If we want to grow Korres to a multimillion-dollar brand, we need to figure out the [minimally-viable product] for it,” he said.