Premium skin-care brand Murad is using beauty’s inclusivity conversation to reach men.

In a new 10-week marketing campaign, dubbed Retinol For All and promoting its three new retinol products, Murad features one male and one female model of varying ethnicities as well as transgender model Teddy Quinlivan. Murad is using the campaign, set to debut on Monday, Dec. 16, to market to men.

Currently, men account for approximately 20% of the brand’s e-commerce sales and 15% of its Instagram audience, said Ginny Chien, Murad’s vp of global brand marketing and consumer engagement. Murad does not have a set goal for increasing its male customer base, she said.

“The brand has been going through an evolution in social and digital over the past few years, but we haven’t yet been able to bring this newly evolved brand to men,” said Chien. “Because of the rise in market [demand] for men’s skin care and overall wellness, and because retinol is a pretty universal ingredient, we thought [this launch] was an appropriate opportunity to reach this new audience,” said Chien.

Although indie skin-care brands, such as Non Gender Specific and Necessaire, sell gender-neutral products, and DTC brands like Hims have opened up the conversation for male self-care and beauty, the topic has had a slower adoption within the heritage and prestige skin-care categories.

Although Murad is playing its part in the inclusivity conversation, it is not the first or only to market it. As a whole, makeup brands like Urban Decay first started marketed inclusivity in beauty by extending beyond racial diversity to include all types of people, and that conversation is only now being adopted by skin care to reach new customer demos. Estée Lauder-owned Origins launched an acne product in July that targeted Latino and younger customers, and Estée Lauder as a whole wants to gain more male customers.

This evolution is not expected to slow in the coming year, said Aleni Mackarey, COO of creative agency Base Beauty. In 2018, men’s skin-care products alone saw a 7% jump in sales to $122 million in the U.S., according to market researcher NPD Group.

“Skin care will play a more prominent role in the ever-evolving inclusivity conversation,” said Mackarey. “We expect to see these changes across skin-care messaging and through products that personalize formulas according to skin types, conditions and needs.” 

Murad will begin selling the products online-only beginning on Monday, before launching into retail partners like Sephora and Ulta by Jan. 1. The social component of the campaign includes static imagery of male models and video of Quinliva, which, Murad will distribute via paid ads on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. It will also advertise via Google paid search. The e-commerce team is also investing in affiliate marketing and lead generation, said Chien. Chien declined to share the cost for the campaign but said the company’s overall marketing budget for 2019 saw a 10% increase in digital and social investments.

Meanwhile, in-store signage will, for the first time, feature a man. Murad will host an influencer and press event with approximately 100 guests on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles, and asked its influencer attendees to also bring a personal guest to make the event more inclusive. The brand’s influencer strategy for campaigns of this size typically consist of around 75 influencers, with the majority being unpaid micro-influencers, said Chien. For Retinol For All, Murad is working with six paid male influencers across mega, macro and micro sizes, including Mike Varshravski (@doctor.mike, 3.4 million Instagram followers). Influencers are expected to post one to three times on Instagram, Instagram Stories and YouTube, if the influencer has a presence, during the campaign, said Chien. On Jan. 11 and 12, a pop-up truck will tour Murad’s Los Angeles retail partners, like Sephora at The Grove shopping center.

“The team then focused on how men are ignored by prestige beauty,” she said. “It is not modern to look at [beauty with] a narrow lens.”