Peter Thomas Roth is using branded ice cream trucks to sell products at Sephora

On June 10, clinically-formulated skin-care brand Peter Thomas Roth launched a campaign called “Mask for Every Task” as the first step in its long-term growth plan. Included are branded ice cream cart-inspired pop-up trucks parked outside of select Sephoras.

With stores open and in-person shopping normalized again, Peter Thomas Roth created the trucks to encourage passersby to shop at Sephora, where the trucks are stationed outside eight high-traffic locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn throughout June and July. The trucks offer complimentary individual applications of the brand’s face masks and hero product eye gel patches. Then, customers are invited inside the Sephora store for a skin consultation and are rewarded with a four-piece product gift with a minimum $125 purchase. Peter Thomas Roth’s proposition is timely, as “dermaceuticals,” with effective, high-potency ingredients, are trending.

“We’ve seen incredible growth in bricks and mortar,” said Sarah McNamara, evp of Peter Thomas Roth.

With warmer weather and relief of strict pandemic measures, shoppers now prefer to discover and purchase new beauty products in person, according to Beautyque’s 2021 survey.

In recent months, Peter Thomas Roth has seen a revival in the skin-masking category that became more crowded with competitors during the peak of the pandemic, said McNamara. The company’s mask business grew 40% during the pandemic and, of the brand’s top-five products, two are consistently eye-gel masks. Brands like Farmacy and Charlotte Tilbury launched face masks in 2021. For Peter Thomas Roth, it’s a core product category that it will continue to invest in.

Peter Thomas Roth has its own formulation and manufacturing facility, allowing it to launch new products and formulations to the market quickly. Its full-size products range from $18-$200.

“We have the ability to diagnostically look at the trends that work and that the consumer is looking for. We then pivot aggressively to meet the needs of the consumer,” said McNamara. “We’re not just investing in the latest and greatest new innovation. We’re looking at our core businesses and investing in them to keep them top of mind with the consumer.”

Following the brand’s Instant FirmX temporary eye tightener that went viral on TikTok during the pandemic with over 34 million views, Peter Thomas Roth’s product development strategy in 2023 is focused on products with both instant and long-term treatment benefits, said McNamara. She said the brand’s key strategy of maintaining premium pricing and also accessibility for the consumer via multiple shopping channels has allowed growth to flourish, both in North America and internationally.

The company’s loyal followers, which it refers to internally as the “PTR Cult,” consists of skin-care enthusiasts who span generations. Likewise, the viral eye tightener is loved by customers of all ages, despite being popularized through the Gen-Z-favored TikTok platform, according to McNamara.

Melissa Gonzalez, CEO and founder of retail strategists and pop-up architects The Lionesque Group, said the location of Peter Thomas Roth’s trucks is optimal. They’ll be able to “grab the relevant audience, pique their interest and then provide them with a more in-depth product offering from the brand in-store,” she said,  of the strategy.

To promote the campaign, Peter Thomas Roth is using organic Instagram and TikTok posts, and a mix of paid and unpaid influencers. The brand has 505,000 Instagram followers and 49,000 TikTok followers. McNamara declined to state the cost of the company’s social strategy for this campaign, but said it was “significant” because of the build-out and staffing of the trucks. Following New York City, Peter Thomas Roth trucks will head to Sephora locations in Los Angeles and Chicago.

As a result of focusing brand marketing on Instagram and TikTok, Peter Thomas Roth has experienced an expanded customer demographic. “Skewing younger is really important for us,” said McNamara. “[Peter Thomas Roth] is 25-years-old, and we have incredible brand awareness. The fact that we’ve been able to grow our Gen-Z and millennial demographic at the pace that we have has been fantastic.”

Aside from being a useful tool for new customer acquisition, Gonzalez said the campaign is likely aimed at evoking evangelism and fandom. To ensure success of the campaign, “clarity on the call-to-action and the use of the designated hashtag are critical, because that’s how you get virality,” she said. Fans who post their favorite mask or patch on Instagram or TikTok while using the campaign hashtag #MaskWithPTR and tag Peter Thomas Roth are eligible to win the full mask and patch collections. One winner is randomly selected each day for the duration of the pop-up truck event in New York City.

Retail activations are a way to gain consumer insight, which can be used to determine where the brand should lean, in terms of product development. Peter Thomas Roth is measuring campaign success through sales at Sephora, brand awareness to recruit new customers and reengagement with existing customers.

“It’s almost like a focus group study, where [Peter Thomas Roth] is getting vocal insights of what people are gravitating to from its product offerings,” said Gonzalez.

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