German conglomerate Henkel continues to get serious about direct-to-consumer beauty.
Recently, Henkel acquired majority stakes in DTC hair-color business ESalon in June 2019, and in Invincible Brands Holding, a DTC business that owns Hello Body, Banana Beauty and Mermaid+Me, in July 2020. Now, it is launching an incubated digital brand within Zotos Professional called Wellphoria this week. Wellphoria, is a CBD and hemp seed oil-infused hair-care brand, with five products priced at $24. It will be available on its own site, Wellphoriabeauty.com, and will be sold to salon professionals through third-party distributors like Merit Beauty Supply and New York City Beauty Supply.
“Expanding our DTC brand offerings furthers Henkel’s ability to directly reach and serve the needs of today’s consumers, while accelerating our digital capabilities,” said Stefan L. Mund, regional head of hair professional at Henkel Beauty Care in North America.
Elizabeth Kenny, head of marketing retail at Henkel Beauty Care in North America and vp of marketing and creative at Zotos Professional, said the line has been in the works for about three years. But Wellphoria’s launch is timely, given that stores and salons continue to have fragmented closings and re-openings, and health and wellness are arguably consumers’ top priorities.
“We think this taps into the idea of total wellness, and appeals to someone who is a Peloton user and wants the benefit of something good for their hair. They may have incorporated that with food or skin care already, but not in hair care,” said Kenny, who explained the line is limited in its assortment to prove that these products are also “multi-use.” Mia Chase, director of marketing innovation at Zotos Professional, said the target customer for Wellphoria is women and men ages 18-44, but the expectation is it will over-index among shoppers 18-28 because of its focus on CBD.
Though incubation continues to create new brand opportunities in beauty, Henkel, whose history dates back to 1876, is newer to it. Henkel’s North America beauty division introduced Guy Tang’s MyDentity hair color brand for salon professionals in 2017, and in April, it launched digital businesses Better Natured and Authentic Beauty Concept. Better Natured can be purchased from its website for both end-customers and professionals, whereas Authentic Beauty Concept is sold through Ulta.com and SalonCentric.com.
Like virtually every beauty company today, digital has become the priority for Henkel, over stores or salons. Henkel’s moves with Wellphoria, Better Natured and Authentic Beauty Concept are important because the company’s beauty division was so badly bruised by coronavirus in the first half of the year. Henkel beauty care sales were down 3.9% in first-quarter 2020 earnings, plus price slowed by 1% and volume dipped by 2.9% And by the second quarter, sales were down by 12.8%. This was largely due to the impact of salons being closed.
To gain awareness for Wellphoria, sans in-person trips to salons or stylists, Chase said before-and-after images and tutorials will be prominently displayed on the brand’s site. Additionally, the brand is offering free samples with every order, and is working with Influenster and trade publication Behind the Chair to distribute samples to micro-influencers and professional stylists, respectively. Wellphoria is also trying to create a gamified experience through its own filter and secondary site, MyVana.WellphoriaBeauty.com. There, customers can upload photos, describe their “vana,” and customize photos and memes. The subsequent user-generated content will be used on WellphoriaBeauty.com and social media.
“We’re breaking down the barriers for salon quality products for the end customer at home,” said Kenny.