L’Oréal-incubated sustainable beauty brand Seed Phytonutrients is betting on hair care as the wellness and clean trends hit the category. On Jan. 11, Seed Phytonutrients expands its current hair-care assortment, compromised of a single cleansing shampoo and two conditioners, to include four new collections of three products each targeted at customer needs: moisturizing, anti-frizz, color and volume. The lines were created in partnership with Sephora and will exclusively debut at the retailer’s 160 top doors, Sephora.com and SeedPhytonutrients.com.
“Our customer could find premium products focused on naturality and sustainability in skin for face and body, but they disproportionately could not find that in hair,” said Shane Wolf, Seed Phytonutrients founder and L’Oréal global manager for Redken, Pureology and Mizani. Though Seed Phytonutrients said it has an even split in retail sales across hair care, face products and body care items, Wolf said its Daily Hair Cleanser Shampoo has been its best-selling product in the eight months since the company launched.
The products aim to offer customer solutions. For example, its Moisture Collection provides hydration and protects against sun and environmental damage, and stemmed from internal L’Oréal portfolio research, said Brad Farrell, Seed Phytonutrients lead farmhand whose scope includes merchandising and marketing. “We know as leaders in the industry that consumers want more protection against damage, which can lead to color fade, lack of strength and dryness, and Seed is well-poised to address these consumer-growth areas,” he said. “We believe over one-third of our consumers focus on some combination of moisture and damage as primary issues. Other customer groups are looking to either tame down their frizzy hair or to bring volume to their flat, fine or thin hair.” Seed Phytonutrients would not share the number of L’Oréal customers polled.
That Seed Phytonutrients is launching with Sephora for its expanded hair-care assortment aligns with its updated omnichannel approach. Though the brand originally launched on its own e-commerce site, as well as on Amazon and at Shen Beauty (both its website and Brooklyn store), in August, Seed Phytonutrients pushed into 28 Pharmaca stores (its largest physical channel until now), and in October, the brand landed in six Neiman Marcus Trending Beauty locations and at NeimanMarcus.com. Wolf hopes to bring its nearly 100 percent online sales closer to 50 percent, with physical retail making up the other 50 percent.
Wolf said Sephora not only gives Seed Phytonutrients massive distribution, but it also mirrors the brand’s values as the retailer has been focused on increasing its Clean at Sephora penetration, which launched in June 2018. The new hair-care collection will be merchandised on the Sephora’s Rising Stars wall for new products before moving into the clean section.
Sephora has shown an increased interest in clean hair care. On Sephora.com, the company carries just over 150 clean hair products, compared 620 skin care products. Playa, an early clean hair-care brand that partnered with Sephora — it launched online first in May 2018 — attributed 45 percent of Playa’s total business to Sephora and expected to see its revenue jump from $1 million in its first year as a DTC-only brand to between $4 million and $5 million in revenue in year two.
Seed Phytonurients declined to share sales projections for its hair-care launch, but Wolf said the Sephora relationship would “significantly accelerate” company growth in less than a year. L’Oréal has limited distribution in hair at Sephora through Kerastase’s 71 products and Kiehl’s 11 shampoos, conditioners and styling products, but neither brand is clean in nature. Still, Kerastase and Kiehl’s were both celebrated in L’Oréal quarterly earnings in September — the former for driving nearly 2 percent growth in its Professional Products Division, and Kiehl’s for driving a 14 percent increase in the L’Oréal Luxe segment.
L’Oréal has increasingly focused on social responsibility and sustainability, and Wolf said Seed Phytonutrients can help show customers and brands that there is no other option. “Consumers are no longer going to accept brands that aren’t sustainable at their core,” he said. “Partnering with a retailer like Sephora, who values what we value and our customer values, is going to push hair care forward.”