Maximalist mass beauty brand Winky Lux is making its official international foray, starting with Canada through 1,100 Shoppers Drug Mart stores.
Rolling out to Canadian stores between late March and early April, Winky Lux displays will take up 2-4 feet and hold 40-70 products per store. The majority of Winky Lux products retail for under $30. Since 2020 when Winky Lux expanded to Target, the New York-based brand has become known, in part, for its opulent gondola and endcap displays. They feature “Winky Lux” written in neon lettering, a lenticular image of the brand’s hero flower balm lipstick and a giant 3D lipstick in the middle of the display. For now, Shoppers Drug Mart is the only retail expansion planned for the region. Shoppers Drug Mart is a retail pharmacy chain, similar to Boots in the U.K., and is known for selling a mix of mass, prestige and luxury brands, including Clarins and Clinique.
Natalie Mackey, CEO of Winky Lux, declined to share specific growth stats but confirmed that Winky Lux is profitable. According to previous Glossy reporting from Jan. 2022, Mackey expected the brand to grow by 40% in 2022. The brand reached $20 million in annual sales as of 2020. Winky Lux initially launched directly to consumers in 2015 and is currently distributed through Target, Ulta Beauty and Amazon. Overall retail, excluding Shoppers Drug Mart, accounts for 80% of Winky Lux sales, Mackey said.
“[Displays] are always something we invest in because we’re a joy-focused brand; our job is to spark dopamine in your brain when you see the brand,” said Mackey. “We think these four legs of the table — Target, Ulta Beauty, Amazon and Shoppers Drug Mart — are so powerful that we could be a $100 million brand just by selling through those.”
Canada was the appropriate choice for the brand’s first international country because of the geographical accessibility compared to Europe, where “boots on the ground” feels necessary, Mackey said. To prepare for the launch, Winky Lux had to update its packaging to include French translations and receive product ingredient safety compliance certification.
According to Nielsen data from February, year-over-year mass beauty sales in the U.S. grew by 6.9%, with makeup growing by 10% and skin care growing by 7.1%. The data did not include total market dollar figures. Cosmetics products like blush, bronzer, concealer and lip gloss grew by double-digits year-over-year. Meanwhile, eyelash treatments, foundation and lip color saw double-digit sales declines. Mackey said Winky Lux customers appear to be shifting their purchasing behavior back toward makeup, which is what the brand started with. Approximately 15-20% of Winky Lux sales are skin care, which it launched in 2021.
“This year feels like the year of Winky Lux because we’ve always done complexion, and it’s a year for complexion [sales’ rebound]. Plus, we were maximalist since before it was cool,” said Mackey. “Branding is a feeling that you’re supposed to elicit from the customer, and it’s a promise that you will continue [to elicit that feeling].”
For now, Winky Lux will rely on 50 local unpaid Canadian influencers to pulse the launch news on social, plus email marketing to Canadian customers. Mackey said that Winky Lux in-store displays have been a longstanding tactic to generate organic social media posts and earned media value.