L’Oréal-incubated sustainable beauty brand Seed Phytonutrients is looking to expand its retail presence through a partnership with health-and-wellness store Pharmaca.
Launched on Earth Day this past April by L’Oréal’s global manager for Redken, Pureology and Mizani in the professional hair division, Shane Wolf, the beauty brand has seen nearly 100 percent of its sales from online channels. Seed Phytonutrients debuted on its own e-commerce site, as well as on Amazon, in Brooklyn’s Shen Beauty store and on Shen-Beauty.com.
The 28-store Pharmaca deal is a departure from its existing online strategy but gives Seed Phytonutrients the opportunity to be seen in prime physical real estate. The Pharmaca relationship puts the brand in stores on the West Coast, namely California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Currently, Pharmaca stores are in only six states.
“We just launched a few months ago, and our goal is to be highly digital, but we want to balance that with partnerships among key brick-and-mortar retailers that support our mission,” said Wolf.
Pharmaca only carries natural brands, so no products contain parabens, phthalates and PEGs, and in-store employees include licensed health-care professionals, like naturopaths, herbalists, nutritionists and estheticians, which will be helpful for educating the Pharmaca customer about Seed Phytonutrients.
Pharmaca vp of merchandising Dave Janowicz created a custom end cap in stores to help said consumers understand the whole Seed Phytonutrients story. “They’re innovating around the concept of sustainable packaging and developing relationships with organic farmers — values that are very aligned with our customers’ own. The products are simple and natural, yet really luxurious, which is what our customers are looking for,” he said.
Unilever’s similarly incubated carbon-conscious beauty brand Love Beauty and Planet is sold at more mass players, like CVS and Duane Reade.
“It’s an omni-channel approach to reach the consumer who loves natural products,” said Wolf. “It’s not necessarily about what channel it is or how she finds us, but where she would be.”
Seed Phytonutrients sees much of its online sales come from parts of the country that don’t necessarily have access to naturally minded brick-and-mortar stores, like the Midwest, according to the company.
“We listen closely to the signals beauty consumers are sending about what matters to them, and we do our very best to respond,” said Frédéric Rozé, president and CEO of L’Oréal USA. “In our business, a relentless focus on the consumer will accelerate any decision-making.”
While Wolf wouldn’t share sales data, he expects physical retail to grow to about 50 percent of the brand’s business.
Messaging and engagement on social and in stores is particularly important to the brand. Online, where Seed Phytonutrients has 21,100 Instagram followers, Wolf has been thoughtful about not just promoting product but also driving a conversation around “clean beauty.” The same can be said about the informational articles on its e-commerce site. “We want to start a discussion about issues that are affecting our bodies and the planet,” he said, pointing to the brand’s recent messaging centered on ocean plastic.
Though Seed Phytonutrients’s Facebook page has a much smaller audience of about 3,900 followers — the brand doesn’t focus heavily on the platform — Wolf said engagement on Facebook is “significantly higher” than expected, alluding to the platform’s density in the middle of the country.
Using its own internal social benchmarking tool, Wolf has found that Seed Phytonutrients is ranked No. 2 among other beauty brands in the natural space in terms of engagement across platforms, though he would not share which competitors he was measuring the brand against. The mix of aspirational and educational content seems to be a working.