Ouai Haircare, the brand founded by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, has launched a dedicated body-care product as it seeks to broaden its scope.
The new product, called the After Sun Body Soother, is a skin-cooling foam meant to be used after sun exposure. It launches in all 410 Sephora doors on May 10, after debuting online at Sephora.com and the brand’s e-commerce site, TheOuai.com, last week. Also last week, it was stocked in Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and Selfridges in the U.K.
The standalone body product follows the releases of Ouai’s dual hair-and-body products: Rose Hair & Body oil in May 2017 and Scalp & Body Scrub in August 2018. Those two products are now among the top-five bestsellers for the brand, according to Laura Bernthol, Ouai Haircare CMO. Following the launch of the After Sun Body Soother, Ouai will debut a fragrance in the third quarter and will launch products in two additional categories in the fall, said Bernthol, though she declined to reveal the categories. In 2018, Ouai brought in an estimated $23 million in sales, according to WWD.
“Skin care has become more popular,” said Bernthol. “It’s not just your face; it’s also scalp and body. A lot of innovation in hair care stems from skin care, and [that’s why] we are extending into body now.”
It is an opportunistic time to launch into body care. According to market research firm NPD Group, body care made up just 5% of the larger $5.6 billion prestige skin care sales in 2017, signifying plenty of white space for growth.
Other hair-care brands are also broadening their scope: Briogeo kicked off 2019 by announcing it was moving into wellness, and R+Co began experimenting with makeup and fragrance in February. Stretching one’s limits beyond hair has also proven savvy for acquisition purposes. In June 2016, premium hair-care brand Oribe moved into six new categories at once, including skin care and body care, and was then acquired by Kao USA Inc. a year later.
“[With] new brands, there aren’t rules on how to make good products. You earn your community’s trust and grow with them,” said Jen Atkin, Ouai Haircare’s founder. “More and more lifestyle brands will become the norm. We are definitely excited to experiment with new categories while staying true to our community’s needs.”
Ouai decided to create the after-sun product after learning that its two dual-purpose products were mostly being used on the body, said Bernthol. In 2018, the brand used Instagram (where it has 840,000 followers) to post polls and ask questions in its photo captions around what customers are looking for in product categories and what the experience should feel like. The After Sun Body Soother has been designed to not only be “Instagram-friendly,” Bernthol said, but also to be more fun than a lotion — it’s dispensed as a foam.
To launch the product, the brand is relying on 300 unpaid influencers including Sivan Ayla (@sivanayla, 249,000 followers) and Elle Ferguson (@elle_ferguson, 656,000 followers). The influencer mailer includes the product, as well as a sheet of stickers and a reusable tote. Jen Atkin, who has 2.9 million followers, has also posted at least four times about the product since the launch, and Ouai has posted about it almost daily. Bernthol said the brand’s Instagram feed will most often feature still shots and highlight ingredients and benefits of products, and videos of influencers using the products. Instagram Stories, meanwhile, will be more “experiential,” showing off the packaging or the cooling sensation of the After Sun Body Soother.
“Consumers feel trust with certain brands. Our customers were interested and curious for new products,” she said. “Hair care is our expertise that will always be a significant volume of business, but growing into new categories, like body, is a good fit as well.”