When Image Skincare set out to drive business to national massage and facial spa Hand & Stone, the 20-year-old skin-care brand launched an extensive pilot program.
Image Skincare piloted three different facials with Hand & Stone, including an oxygenating facial, a Vitamin C peel and an organic facial. Image Skincare kicked off the trial with an initial 22 locations in July 2022. Then around the beginning of Dec. 2022, it began a second wave of its trial with an additional set of locations, for a total of 44. Neither the oxygenating facial nor the peel previously existed at Hand & Stone, while the existing organic facial appealed to Gen Zers’ interest in clean beauty, according to Jacqueline Palmieri, director of aesthetic operations at Hand & Stone. As of early May, Image Skincare expanded its services all 500 Hand & Stone locations.
Professional spas are not new for Image Skincare, which is distributed in spas across 60 countries. However, it’s also maintained a DTC e-commerce channel for the last seven years. Founded by an aesthetician and plastic surgeon, Image Skincare’s best-selling products include its Vital C hydrating anti-aging serum, Clear Cell salicylic gel cleanser and Ormedic balancing antioxidant serum. Professional sales account for 80% of the brand’s sales, with 20% coming from DTC e-commerce, said Christyne Biggs, director of marketing for Image Skincare. The average Image Skincare customer is 34 years old, and Hand & Stone’s average client is 33 years old. Meanwhile, 35% of all Hand & Stone services are facials, according to Jack Bachinsky, CMO of Hand & Stone. Hand & Stone already works with Dermalogica and Clarity skin-care brands on facial services.
Notably, Hand & Stone plans to expand facials to 50% of Hand & Stone’s revenue in the next five years. Bachinsky said that massage therapists are in an in-demand position, and there are not enough people to meet the demand. Comparatively, there are more aestheticians, which is one underlying reason for Hand & Stone’s focus on facials. Additionally, younger customers are more interested in facial services than ever before. Such an ambitious growth plan led to Hand & Stone and Image Skincare working together.
“Skin care is a more important part of a young customer’s health and wellness routine today. They spend a much higher percentage out of pocket on skin-care services,” said Bachinsky.
In the first six weeks, Hand & Stone saw an increase in average facial bookings and facial sales at these select locations, both week-over-week and year-over-year. Spa locations that carried Image products and treatments made 51% more in total sales, on average, than those that did not carry the products. Meanwhile, average sales in the test spas were on average 26% higher in 2022 than in 2021, while non-test spas were only about 16% higher year-over-year. Since the launch, the pilot spas have had 17-18% more facials booked than those not offering Image Skincare facials. Additionally, since the launch of the pilot, on average, Image Skincare pilot spas had 18-19% higher facial service sales than spas not in the test program. Image Skincare sells products across its Vital C, Ormedic, Clear Cell and other product franchises within spas.
“Hand & Stone has a philosophy around accessibility, and we love that. There are so many options out there that we need to be the experts in skin care. We want to open that [expertise] up to every type of consumer who may be looking for that professional advice and skin care,” said Biggs.
Image Skincare set out to create a 360-degree marketing campaign for the trial, involving unique assets for email marketing, digital ads, social assets and in-store events. Biggs said all of these efforts were geotargeted to the 44 test locations. One example of a digital activation was a virtual biosphere storefront on its e-commerce site, as a co-branded effort between Hand & Stone and Image Skincare. Image Skincare had previously developed a virtual biosphere in April 2022, which mimicked a tropical escape with a waterfall, lush greenery and digital products to click on for more information.
Influencers were also a big part of the pilot period, with both Image Skincare and Hand & Stone working with their own influencers. Image Skincare gifted over 250 influencers with Hand & Stone facials and a PR mailer. Hand & Stone has its own evergreen influencer program, which works to promote all its skin-care partners on Instagram and TikTok. Hand & Stone works with an undisclosed number of influencers based on a promotional calendar that coordinates with partner brands when brands have new product launches, and the Image Skincare brand has been added to the calendar.
According to Tribe Dynamics figures, since the launch of the pilot, the partnership has seen a social media reach of over 9 million people via influencers, plus 48,000 engagements. It’s earned $430,000 in earned media value driven by over 250 creators. Hand & Stone saw an increase in EMV by 130% (between Aug 22, 2022, and March 23, 2023) and increase in its social media community size by 235%.
Digital activations that Image Skincare began for the pilot will remain “always on,” said Biggs. However, a newer opportunity for the brand lies in its physical events. It’s interested in promotions and store decorating opportunities, as well as positioning brand representatives at spas to speak with clients.
“Before starting the test program, we were in this very virtual world, but with the full rollout, we’re going to have more opportunities for a lot more co-branded events at spa locations,” said Biggs.