Traditional hair-care brands are stepping out of the salon chair, in pursuit of becoming lifestyle brands.
After a decade in business, Verb expanded its shower proposition with its first-ever body-care launches on August 31. The body wash and body lotion products sell for $18 via Ulta Beauty and the brand’s DTC e-commerce website. Meanwhile, Ouai plans to launch candles on Sept. 7 in two scents, Melrose Place and North Bondi, fragrances that are already offered in Ouai’s hair and body range. They will sell for $44 each on Ouai’s DTC e-commerce site and Sephora.com, before heading to Sephora stores in October. Previously Ouai launched dog shampoo in March. Perfumes have also emerged from brands like Moroccanoil in July and Oribe in August.
“The root of a brand’s ability to expand into lifestyle positioning is strong brand loyalty and a customer base that is interested in the brand and what it has to say,” said Hannah Beals, Ouai vp of brand marketing. “You need that trust and excitement [from customers and social] around the brand to expand into uncharted territory.”
But Beals also pointed out that Ouai’s choices to move into dog shampoo and now candles were both adamantly asked for by customers for several years. (The oddest request? Ouai-branded wine, said Beals.) Because candles have been the most-requested product from the brand, Ouai marketed them differently to build excitement. Ouai teased the products in late July on TikTok and gifted free candles to TikTok micro-influencers. Typically, it announces products the day they are available for purchase. Ouai has approximately 6,700 TikTok followers and 1.4 million Instagram followers. It also opened a waitlist on its website for its customers and social community. Beals said the Ouai lifestyle is centered on a busy and active mindset tempered with an understated sense of luxury.
“Even though hair is where we started and is always going to be the foundation of our brand, some of the principles of how we build our hair care line lend themselves to other products that are luxurious and smell amazing,” Beals said.
On the flipside, indie hair-care brands like Ouai and Verb have a competitive reason for expanding beyond hair care, in order to grow. Skin-care brands like First Aid Beauty and The Inkey List, and (what used to be) shaving company Harry’s, have entered hair care since 2020. The aspiration for a brand to offer something for everyone under the guise of lifestyle has been an industry trend since at least 2019, with Love, Beauty and Planet and Nest Fragrances being two well-known examples. As trends like the skinification of hair have taken hold of beauty consumers, and every brand seeks to become a personal care brand, it is now easier than ever for hair-care brands to also attempt their own category transcendence.
Claire Moses, Verb co-founder, said that Verb’s hero hair oil product, Ghost Oil, and its main ingredient, moringa seed oil, was an idea the team lifted from the skin-care industry in 2017. But in its pursuit to simplify the hair-care discussion for customers, Verb has not dived into its skinification origins in marketing. Moses declined to share Verb’s current or expected sales, but said distribution has grown 82% year-over-year, compared to 2020, and that the brand has seen sales growth across DTC e-commerce, wholesale retail and professional salons.
“What we’re doing now with future launches is getting more nitty-gritty into ingredients, because we think customers are ready for that. Five years ago, customers weren’t ready to talk about AHAs and hair care, but maybe neither were we,” said Moses. “We’ve always called ourselves Verb Products, even though we specialized in hair care… From a marketing perspective, we like to approach our content from a lifestyle point of view.”
In the past, Verb has offered merch like T-shirts and baseball caps, and sent out press mailers with candles infused with Verb products’ scents. Though Verb received positive feedback from these promotional items, Moses said it would take “a long time” for Verb to invest in expanding itself into those product categories. But, she said, there are “real conversations” around wellness and what Verb’s approach could be.