Equinox is looking to expand its beauty and wellness presence. This week, the luxury fitness gym debuted its first-ever Holiday Gift Giving Suite, which features product collaborations from beauty and wellness brands like Uma Oils, Starskin and Welleco, among others. This expanded beauty and wellness merchandising assortment is Equinox’s first sold products in their gyms since debuting Kiehl’s skin-, body- and hair-care items for sale and in locker rooms in 2009.
“It’s an opportunity for us to play in the space, which we really have not done in a big way before,” said Equinox vice president of retail, Annie Walters, who came to the gym from Saks Fifth Avenue in August 2017. “Fitness, wellness and beauty naturally go together and intersect.” The gifting collaborations will be available in 94 Equinox and Pure Yoga locations across the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and be featured on dedicated and curated displays with promotional signage that speak to the gym’s ongoing interest in self-care.
Until now, Equinox has largely focused on fashion partnerships in its locations, with athletic brands like Lululemon, Nike and Koral. But the gym did do a beauty product sampling exercise in January in partnership with Glossier around its The Muse group fitness classes and events. The millennial brand’s Perfecting Skin Tint foundation, Haloscope highlighter, Cloud Paint blush, Boy Brow eyebrow gel and Soothing Facial Mist were among the products gifted.
The brands featured in the Holiday Gift Giving Suite were selected via an invite-only “Shop Tank” (Equinox’s version of “Shark Tank”) in March, said Walters. Participating companies that were on the gym’s radar could present around their brand concept and products — Equinox is planning to do more of these “Shop Tanks”in the coming months, but dates are not yet confirmed. A range of products (that are co-branded) were selected including an Uma Oils candle and wellness oil set, a Starskin detox face mask set and a Dagne Dover and Kiehl’s dopp kit. Others within the gifting suite are more beauty and wellness–adjacent like Cristalline’s chakra set and a Sundry canvas pouch.
For Uma Oils founder Shrankhla Holecek, the partnership was especially strategic, as her 2-year-old Ayurveda-based beauty brand currently sells on its direct-to-consumer site as well as with select luxury retailers, like Neiman Marcus, Saks, Space NK and Goop. Equinox’s 94 locations make it the brand’s largest third-party distributor. (For comparison, its second largest retail relationship is with with Space NK at 23 stores). As such, Uma Oils’ breakdown of direct-to-consumer business versus third-party retailers is changing: The latter will grow to 65 percent of revenue by the end of 2018.
“When we think about retail partnerships, we have to consider if the customers are willing to pay for luxury. Equinox’s customers are already willing to pay $250 for a gym membership, so they have an initial understanding of higher quality products,” said Holecek. (On the high end, Uma Oils’ line of beauty products go up to $350, but her co-branded Equinox candle is $68 and her wellness oil set for the gym is $45.)
Aside from the Uma Oils’ collaborations being sold in the gyms, the wellness oil recovery product will be programmed into all group fitness yoga classes for the holiday week of Thanksgiving. Select Equinox instructors, such as in-house stars like Kay Kay Clivio-Shipley and Sarra Morton, received the oil in early November to fully understand its calming benefits and will be guiding clients through applications of the oil in class.
Holecek said this early education was crucial from an experiential perspective and not solely about selling products in a retail setting as the practice of Ayurveda is not well known for most American consumers. “We were interested in working with fitness and wellness experts who are able to cut through the clutter, especially as the digital space, as a channel is becoming very, very expensive,” said Holecek. (According to the brand, Uma Oils sent products to instructors on its own dime, but did not disclose that cost.) “This is a way to ensure long-tail wellness success and activation among Equinox clients should they want to have a deeper conversation with Uma.”
Uma Oils, the other participating brands, and Equinox will promote the gifting suite and featured products on its social channels. Equinox, too, will be gifting a select number of non-paid influencers the product for the holiday season as an awareness play.
Though the Equinox Holiday Gift Giving suite is slated to run through the end of year, these beauty and wellness collaborations could have longer implications for the gym. “It really is a testbed for us to see what more we can do,” said Walters. Holecek agreed: “We are already looking at new ways we can activate and provide something special in their gyms.”