Wellness has become a bona fide movement within beauty, and indie brands have been eager to find ways to become associated with the $1 trillion beauty-meets-wellness market.

Many brands understand they need to tackle wellness with nuance and find a way to be authentic in both product and marketing to reach the modern customer. Skin-care device company Foreo is beginning to use retail experiences and pop-ups to help connect the dots between its brand and wellness; others like Sunday Riley use editorial content to tell their wellness story; and Herbivore has created specific products, like CBD oils, to speak to the wellness customer.

When the Foreo North America team was brainstorming its marketing initiatives for 2019, the brand began to look at ways to be viewed as a lifestyle brand rather than as a company that sells skin-care products. With the increase in wellness-related technology, such as wearables and meditation apps, it made sense for Foreo to position itself as a wellness-minded tech company, according to Beki Hoxha, gm of Foreo North America.

To that end, the company has been integrating more wellness-focused social media posts into its feeds since January and is also planning on an RV-style pop-up for mid-year that will travel to multiple (but still undetermined) U.S. cities. This experience will include wellness activities like yoga, healthy cooking tutorials and facials with Foreo devices. Foreo has dedicated 65 percent of this year’s $19 million North American marketing and communications budget to promoting wellness.

To correspond with the upcoming pop-up, the brand has already begun emphasizing two wellness-related posts a week on Instagram and Facebook, which include photos and videos of people exercising at gyms or outside, and customers engaging in self-care rituals like baths.

“When it comes to wellness, our idea is to start bringing self-care into a fitness routine. We are trying to integrate [Foreo as wellness] from a more concrete standpoint, rather than an abstract idea,” he said. “These activities position us to connect aspects of self-care, on-the-go products and tech.”

Foreo is also currently in discussions with Equinox for a potential partnership. This collaboration could include offering a Luna Fofo (a small handheld massage and cleansing device) that would be included in a welcome packet for new members, Hoxha explained.

Foreo sees larger ramifications with associating itself as a wellness brand because of the value proposition that the category provides to a customer. If a consumer sees a product as helping them achieve a “happy and healthy” life, then there is less of a barrier to motivate them to purchase, said Hoxha.

Sunday Riley first entered the wellness category in October 2018 with the launch of a quarterly subscription box. The boxes are curated by the editorial team behind The Sunday Edit, a blog launched by the brand in November 2018.

The idea behind the creation of The Sunday Edit and its subscription box is to align itself with wellness without jumping into product, said Debbie Wu, public relations and influencer marketing senior manager at Sunday Riley. The brand has begun investing more in the Sunday Edit team, which now includes five people (with founder Sunday Riley acting as editor-in-chief). The Sunday Edit publishes two stories a day. Sunday Riley is looking to hire significantly on the design side of The Sunday Edit, Wu said, though she didn’t detail the number of roles and positions the company is looking for. The blog serves as a feedback loop for the company to build out a psychographic profile of its customers and see what aspects of wellness they are most engaged with.

“It allows us to touch our audience and figure out what they are interested in and what pushes them,” Wu said. 

For example, The Sunday Edit published a story in February related to ethnic hair and found a “higher-than-average” click-through rate for the article (Wu declined to state Sunday Riley’s CTR average), which caught the team’s attention.

“It definitely is a way to produce products. Our launch calendar this year will be the busiest its ever been,” she said. Still, Sunday Riley currently does not have confirmed plans on producing any wellness or hair-care products but has focused on new face serums like retinol and vitamin C, which launched in January and March, respectively.

For its part, The Sunday Edit subscription box allows the brand to participate in wellness in a more concrete way than the newsletter. The box features products from Sunday Riley and other companies such as Rifle Paper Co. and sexual-wellness brand The Perfect V. It allows Sunday Riley to experiment in ways that may not naturally fit within its existing assortments, Wu said. In February, a Maude vibrator was included in the subscription’s most recent box that focused on self-love and sexual wellness.

Wellness products are the most common and obvious route for indie beauty brands to venture into the category. Companies like hair-care brand Briogeo and skin-care brands Pacifica and Indie Lee have all launched wellness products since January. In March, Herbivore launched its first CBD oil, which retails for $58 and is being used to test its consumer appetite for more wellness CBD products, said Erica Lang, creative marketing director for Herbivore.

“Our intention for this product is [for] people who want to tip-toe into cannabis products,” said Lang, who explained Herbivore is already looking at how it can expand its CBD range.

Herbivore also established in 2016 a wellness shop on its e-commerce site that lives separately from its own products. The shop features other indie brands like Fur and Josh Rosebrook, and wellness lifestyle products like bundles of sage. Lang said the shop is not a significant revenue driver — its purpose is to make the brand’s e-commerce site a one-stop shop for all of a potential customer’s wellness needs.

“Our wellness shop is closing the circle on the skin-care ritual experience,” Lang said.

At the same time, it lends a halo effect of authenticity to Herbivore’s own wellness products. By working with other wellness brands (and also donating $1 of every CBD product sold to Americans for Safe Access, an organization that supports safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research), Herbivore is trying to demonstrate that it is not interested in participating in wellness fads.

“For us, it’s equally important to create a fully sensorial experience when consumers are using our product. We encourage everyone to use our products as part of their skin-care regimen, but also as a ritualistic experience,” she said. “How we frame wellness is that Herbivore is aligned with metaphysics in a conceptual way [like crystals and tarot cards] or in literal ingredients like CBD.”