Target announced earlier this month that it was expanding its natural-beauty assortment with buzzy beauty and personal-care brands like nontoxic nail-care line Tenoverten, skin-care company Cocokind and active brand Yuni. The retailer was not just riding the current preoccupation with wellness, but it was also emphasizing its new-ish “chemical strategy.”
The initiative, which debuted in January 2017, includes improved ingredient transparency across beauty, personal care, baby care and household cleaning. It also highlights Target’s fervor to find more brands with formulas that do not contain phthalates, propylparaben, butylparaben, formaldehyde, formaldehyde donors or NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates) by 2020, as well as offer full visibility to chemicals contained in or used to make the products.
So far this year, Target has already added five new brands to its natural-beauty assortment that adhere to those measures, and it has expanded its offerings of Native deodorant and Hello toothpaste. These natural additions have been big business for Target, especially within beauty and personal-care, in the last year. In 2018, Target introduced more than 30 new natural-beauty brands across its skin-care, personal care, men’s grooming and cosmetics businesses, and saw double-digit sales growth. According to Target, natural skin care was the primary driver. Overall, Target now sells over 1,300 natural beauty products out of the larger 2,200 item natural offering, which includes baby care and household cleaning.
Target’s latest extension into nail care with Tenoverten pushed that commitment further, as nail care has been an especially tricky category to boast natural or organic benefits. Even brands that suggest that they sell non-toxic nail polish can still be misleading, per an October 2018 study by Environmental Science and Technology. Aside from the Tenoverten launch — the brand is now available in 800 doors across 49 states — Target’s existing clean nail lines include only Ella + Mila, which also sells lipsticks, and Piggy Paint, which is targeted at children. (The retailer also sells its own private-label nail line, Defy & Inspire, which launched in 2016).
To scale in Target, Tenoverten dropped its prices to a mass market-friendly $12 for nail polishes, down from $18 (its selling price on Tenoverten.com and at 35 luxury and clean retailers like Net-a-Porter, Credo and Violet Grey). Tenoverten co-founder Nadine Abramcyk was able to cut prices by removing excess outer packaging from the polishes themselves. (Tenoverten launched its polish line in 2012, after debuting its nail salons in 2010.)
For Abramcyk, the Target partnership legitimizes the transparency Tenoverten offers and what consumers are looking for at a mass scale. “Nails is an area where, historically, people are very afraid of the chemicals that are in their products. Customers have to find companies that they trust and are doing the work — they care about offering you safer formulas,” she said.
Cocokind CEO and founder Priscilla Tsai also revamped the business strategy of her skin-care brand as it made its way into 150 Target locations in February. At the end of January, Tsai retooled all product packaging to “move away from the grocery look and toward looking like an elevated beauty brand.” Each product category now has its own dedicated color (toners are labeled in reds, while moisturizers have a light blue hue), and product descriptions are simplified.
As was the case with Tenoverten, Cocokind’s relaunch was not a directive from Target. Still, Tsai’s felt the $60,000 investment in updated product packaging, as well as the refreshed visuals and better site experience on Cocokind.com, would help the brand succeed as it is being presented to a larger audience.
“Our customer continued to ask when we were going into Target, and even though our DTC channel is a primary focus for us, our investment in ourselves and our digital presence helps sales and efficiency in all of our channels,” she said. Cocokind expects to grow its direct-to-consumer business from 30 percent in 2018 to 40 percent in 2019, but physical retail sales — through Target and Whole Foods’ 479 locations, where Cocokind can already be found — will make up the other 60 percent.
Tenoverten’s playbook has also changed beyond price: While in 2018 the company’s six nail salon locations (in New York, Los Angeles and Austin) accounted for 90 percent of the business and products made up the other 10 percent, in 2019, Abramcyk expects for both to align to 50 percent each. Additionally, Target is emphasizing Tenoverten’s nail-care products, including its nail polish remover, cuticle oil, dryer drops and top and base coats, aside from the 24 polish shades it chose to carry. Fittingly, Abramcyk expects those products, which make up 75 percent of product sales, to grow this year, thanks to Target. To prepare for the newfound customer attention, Tenoverten.com, which saw 50 percent year-over-year growth at the end of 2018, is also going through a site revamp this February.
Tsai, too, still has her eye on Cocokind’s DTC channel. “We aren’t trying to be in every retailer,” she said. “In fact, saying no is a key part of our distribution strategy. But when a retailer stands for what you stand for and provides the access to your customer that you can’t as a self-funded, boot-strapped business, you don’t want to say no.”