This week I look at Thayers Natural Remedies to find out how the witch hazel toner brand is trying to reach younger consumers through a sponsorship with the action sports competition X Games.
L’Oréal-owned Thayers Natural Remedies is attempting a vibe shift.
Between July 21-23, Thayers Natural Remedies was a main sponsor of X Games, an annual action sports competition for disciplines like skateboarding, motocross and BMX. It was the first time Thayers participated, and it was the only beauty brand at X Games. Other major sponsors included Monster energy drink, Pacifico beer, Jarritos soda, Visa and Hot Wheels. The sponsorship included Thayers-branded ramps during the BMX competitions, a Thayers modular skate park, and a Thayers Xtreme Skincare Lounge for attendees and athletes. Thayers was also listed on the sponsorship page of X Games, with a link to its Amazon storefront. Thayers is also sold through Target, Walmart and other mass retailers.
Overall, Thayers’ participation represents a departure for the 176-year-old brand. L’Oréal acquired Thayers in Aug. 2020 in a $400 million deal. In Aug. 2021, the skin-care brand released its first-ever television commercials espousing its natural ingredients in hero products like witch hazel. At that time, the branding was focused on the brand’s heritage of using ingredients that exist in nature and its clean associations. But the X Games sponsorship is meant to move the brand away from its farm-to-face, fun and friendly branding and more toward the idea of “having fun while being perfectly imperfect,” said Derrick Booker, svp and head of Thayers Natural Remedies at L’Oréal.
“It wasn’t enough to be natural — that was the expectation,” he said. “This is the first of many new and unexpected experiences from Thayers moving forward. As we’ve learned more about our consumers and showing up authentically, we decided to change our tone.”
The customers the brand is targeting, namely, are Gen Zers. While as a heritage mass brand Thayers has a wide customer base spanning generations, the “perfectly imperfect” designation can be found throughout Gen-Z culture and brands. Starface, which sells acne patches, has put a fun twist on having zits by offering patches in the shape of stars, clouds and hearts that have been spotted on the likes of Justin Bieber. Meanwhile, having a perfectly curated Instagram feed is regarded as gauche by Gen-Z standards and a giveaway that someone is of an older style of thinking about social media. Niche social app BeReal managed to break into the mainstream through the patronage of Gen Z in 2022 precisely because it was an alternative approach to overly manicured and posed photos. Thayers’ idea behind the X Games sponsorship was to be daring, unexpected and edgy. Booker said that X Games participants are boldly unapologetic about being into unconventional sports like skateboarding and motocross.
“The new Thayers wants to be where our consumers are — a place where they feel safe, unapologetic and where they are going to have fun,” he said. “When they’re going to the extreme, Thayers will have the skin care that will match their fierce and unapologetic lifestyle.”
According to Piper Sandler’s semi-annual Taking Stock with Teens survey, the most popular skin-care brands among the demo are CeraVe, The Ordinary, Cetaphik, Drunk Elephant and La Roche-Posay. Teens’ top social causes are the environment, racial equality, abortion rights, economic inflation and the potential Alaskan oil drilling proposal known as The Willow Project. Aside from X Games, Thayers ran a global campaign in April across social, digital and TV that sought to introduce the brand in its modernized positioning. The campaign included sometimes irreverent language and featured models with “imperfect” skin, a mark of the brand’s mission to be down for anyone’s skin, no matter what a person’s lifestyle may bring.
“The X Games represents a fusion of passion, fearlessness and, of course, fun — qualities that perfectly resonate with our brand’s values and our consumers,” said Detty Nkonko, gm of Next Big Brands at L’Oréal.
Rather than a boost in sales, the partnership’s success depended on whether attendees walked away with a better perception of Thayers. X Games has not released attendance records for the eight-day event, but past X Games in places like Japan and Aspen, Colorado, have seen approximately 40,000 people present. Booker declined to share the costs associated with the sponsorship.
In addition to the sponsorship and branded X Games opportunities, Thayers ran a social media contest and retail activations tied to X Games. Launched during the competition, the #ThayersTonerTrick contest asked consumers nationwide to post their best skin-care “trick” on TikTok, tagging the brand for a chance to win $10,000. And Thayers invited 10 influencers to X Games to generate social content and experience an exclusive skate lesson with athlete Nyjah Huston. Huston also attended a meet-and-greet on July 21 at the Thayers Lounge.
“We want to make sure that we’re representing everyone that shows up as part of the skin-care community,” said Booker. “There was a range of people to amplify this message that Thayer’s is a ride-or-die remedy for better looking bare skin.”
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