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Tree Hut launched in 2002, but since the onset of the pandemic and the rise of TikTok, it’s essentially been reborn. The brand makes accessibly priced body care, with prices ranging from $3.99 for a travel-sized body wash to $19.99 for a gift set containing cult-favorite body scrubs. It has been sold at Ulta Beauty since 2006. Tree Hut is owned by Naterra International Inc., which also owns Baby Magic.
Its TikTok strategy wasn’t an overnight success, however. And the brand can’t attribute its success on the app to a single creator or viral moment, said Dillon McPherson, Tree Hut’s digital marketing manager. “As much as I’d love to tie it to just one creator — because then we could just make them the face of Tree Hut — it’s engagement and growth have been driven by the [whole] community.”
The brand posted its first TikTok in June of 2021. The first post only got a couple of views and engagements. The brand switched gears and focused on Instagram, McPherson said, only returning its efforts to TikTok about a year and a half ago.
Then, things started to change, said Hazel Smith, Tree Hut’s senior marketing manager. “We realized we had this textural element that a lot of other brands weren’t doing at the time. Our product is extremely textural, and we have a variety of colors — but scent is something we can’t convey digitally, so that was always a challenge. So, to connect to an audience — to get them to want to feel, touch and understand what the product is about — we went in with that, creating those textural pieces [of content]. We call [the focus on our textures] the goop drop.”
It’s not uncommon to see Tree Hut featured in posts on the oft-mentioned #EverythingShower, another body-care related trend, which has over 125 million views on the app. Scroll through Tree Hut’s hashtag on the app, and you’ll find showers that look more like Tree Hut showrooms. They feature artfully displayed shelves with collections of dozens and dozens of the brand’s $10.49 Shea Sugar Scrubs, which come in a wide variety of colors and flavors. The hashtag #TreeHutCollector has 49.9 million views, and #TreeHutCollection has yet another 27.5 million. When a new flavor launches, fans have been known to document their journey to secure it.
According to influencer marketing platform Tribe Dynamics, Tree Hut collected $24.6 million in earned media value in 2022, an impressive 84% year-over-year growth. It earned mentions in 7,400 social posts from 1,500 creators, increases of 79% and 47%, respectively. TikTok drove $10.5 million of the EMV, an increase of 40% over 2021 and 43% of the brand’s total. EMV is a calculation representing the combined value of social buzz, searches and purchases.
He added, “Much of Tree Hut’s 2022 momentum stemmed from incoming creators who hadn’t mentioned the brand in 2021.” This group accounted for $11.6 million EMV, or nearly half of the brand’s overall total. Many of these newcomers likely discovered the brand thanks to its virality on TikTok. Platform-specific campaign #ShowerTok was one of Tree Hut’s top hashtags, driving $6.4 million EMV. #TreeHut drove $13.6 million and #SelfCare drove $7.1 million. “It’s quite rare for a TikTok-specific tag to rank so highly among a brand’s top EMV-driving hashtags,” Begley said.
According to Conor Begley, Tribe Dynamics co-founder, “Tree Hut was an earlier adopter of TikTok and had more of its 2021 EMV stem from the platform than other brands did.”
Building on this success, the brand will debut its first open-to-the-public New York City pop-up this weekend, where it will invite its community to engage with the sensorial experiences its products provide.
The goals for the pop-up are two-fold, Smith said. “First, we want to meet our consumers in real life, while also creating awareness for people who haven’t experienced the brand yet,” she said. The brand also aims to show that Tree Hut offers more than just those famed body scrubs. Its Moisturizing Shave Oils are gaining popularity, and at the pop-up, it will promote its new Gel Body Washes.
Visitors will be rewarded too. On each day of the two-day pop-up, the first 100 visitors will walk away with a full body care regimen, while the first 600 will receive a body wash and scrubber tool. Of the visitors who then register on Tree Hut’s own website, one will win a grand prize: one of every Tree Hut product, worth over $500.
The brand is using TikTok and programmatic advertising platform StackAdapt to examine how the pop-up lifts brand awareness in New York and nationwide, pre-and-post event. It’s tapped three paid influencers: Davis Burleson (aka What’s Poppin? With Davis, 2.2 million followers), Audrey Trullinger (1.5 million followers) and Nnenna B (166,000 followers) to create content specific to the pop-up.
Tree Hut’s community is already requesting that the pop-up go on tour, said McPherson. “If it ends up being a success, there’s room for conversation on how can we take it and connect with our consumers even further nationally.”
“We’re not this huge corporation, we’re a very lean team,” Smith said. The brand, which has between 40-50 employees, is based in the Dallas area.
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Spate Trend watch: Serums stay hot
Despite declining interest in skin care overall — searches are currently down 9.4% year-over-year — consumers have been increasingly searching for serums to supplement their routines.
Top trending skin concerns include discoloration, dryness and pore size. This checks out when you look at the top trending ingredients, which include hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, chebula and argireline.
Perhaps newest to this buzzy ingredients list is chebula, which is an antioxidant-rich Ayurvedic ingredient used to help prevent signs of aging. Searches for the ingredient are driven almost entirely by the popular True Botanicals Chebula Active Serum.
Other brands recently receiving significant attention in the face serum category include Vibriance, Naked + Thriving, and Perricone MD. Vibriance and Perricone MD receive the most searches for their vitamin C offerings. Naked + Thriving is beloved for its Renew Resurfacing Night Serum, a blend of alpha hydroxy, hyaluronic and ferulic acids.