Twenty-four-year-old curly-hair-care line DevaCurl is banking on a dual offline and online experience strategy to engage customers and grow its business.
At last weekend’s fifth annual CurlFest — a curly hair–focused event in Prospect Park, Brooklyn celebrating the natural hair movement — DevaCurl served as an official sponsor and promoted new product launches with free samples. Over 2,800 DevaCurl products were sold at the event, and the brand interacted with 15,000 of the 30,000 women who attended, according to DevaCurl chief marketing officer Megan Streeter.
Online, a new customer quiz and corresponding educational blog articles are fueling DevaCurl’s engaged community.
The strategy is meant to scale a formerly niche business that has seen a significant uptick with the growing, inclusive natural hair movement: In May 2017, Ares Management acquired Deva Holdings, the parent company of DevaCurl, for a deal estimated by Women’s Wear Daily to be worth between $250 and $300 million. This is in keeping with the pattern of larger companies investing in textured hair companies, including L’Oréal buying Carol’s Daughter over three years ago. Hair care is the fastest-growing category in the prestige beauty space, worth $645 million, up 19 percent from last year, according to NPD Group. While DevaCurl sells at retailers like Sephora and Ulta, and at professional salons, it is looking to grow its direct-to-consumer channel — and brand awareness is the way to do it.
For its CurlFest activation booth, DevaCurl started building awareness before the festival took place on Saturday. The night before the daylong event, the hair-care line launched a separate but related “meet-up” (as Streeter called it) at its Devachan Salon with micro-influencers Ayesha Malik, who has a total following of 163,000 followers, Felicia Jones, with 245,000 followers, and Penny Tovar, who has 438,000 followers. Most of the brand’s influencer partnerships are unpaid — though influencers are gifted product to try — and that includes relationships with bigger names like beauty and lifestyle vloggers Alexandra Beth and Jasmine Brown, who regularly post about the brand. Over 90 percent of DevaCurl social mentions stem from product gifting.
“Penny, Felicia and Ayesha were able to mingle with their fans, answer questions, give product tips, hand out samples, pose for pictures and celebrate all things curly,” said Streeter of the pre-event. “It also gave us the opportunity to have our stylists do some transformations and ‘DevaCuts’ that would have been hard to do at CurlFest.”
The three influencers were also on hand at the DevaCurl booth at CurlFest the following day. Meet-ups have been part of the DevaCurl DNA since its launched, in a New York City salon location. Since March of this year, the company has hosted five events, including two at Sephora.
“The [meet-ups] are a great way to bring the community together to share, engage, support and celebrate curly hair,” said Streeter. “Sometimes a meet-up will be around a specific innovation; other times it will be to showcase brand education. These moments are essential to us so that we can learn and discuss what is happening in the texture community and deepen our understanding.” The DevaCurl meet-ups generate big momentum in targeted engagement and brand mentions on social, as well. DevaCurl’s Instagram post about the pre-CurlFest salon event, for instance, received about 7,500 likes.
At the same time, DevaCurl is scaling its connection with its community online. At the end of May, the brand introduced an online quiz similar to those used by subscription services that walks customers through a set of images of different curl types, hair conditions and goals, to suggest DevaCurl products. Additionally, prospective consumers are served online videos and blog articles after the quiz to fuel education and be informed of locations where they can buy the product in person.
In two months, over 90,000 people have taken the quiz. And traffic for DevaCurl’s blog community, where the educational articles reside, is up, too. Each month, 10,000 to 15,000 customers visit the blog, according to Streeter. In addition to social pushes and influencers sharing blog posts they are featured in, weekly blog emails tease out new content.
“It’s a perfect example of how much curly girls need continued education and individual advice on product selection and usage,” she said.