After 20 years in the spa industry, June Jacobs set out to develop a natural, clinically tested brand focused on reaching millennial customers.
The result, Naturally Serious, launched exclusively in Sephora stores and online in August, and has already met its first-year goal of $10 million to $15 million in sales and is expected to reach $30 million to $40 million in the next three years, according to Sarah McNamara, Naturally Serious’ CMO and evp. The seven-product range, which retails between $16 and $56, offers a lip serum, a face mask, a cleanser and other skin-care basics.
“We’ve had a tremendous response, and we’ve exceeded our targets so far. It’s early days for us, but we are thrilled with the response,” McNamara said.
McNamara spoke with Glossy about how Naturally Serious addresses the latest customer desires within the natural beauty space, how retail is changing as customers seek more authentic sources of information and how wellness has made face masks so popular.
What trends are you seeing in the natural beauty space, and how is Naturally Serious trying to speak to those changes?
What we’ve seen in the natural or clean trend is that there are a lot of brands entering the space, but the difference now is that consumers feel that natural products are not as efficacious for the skin and are not as aggressive in meeting some of the skin challenges consumers may have. In formulating Naturally Serious, the whole concept was saying, ‘We are a real, natural brand, and we do clinical testing.’ So our formulas are clinically tested to really deliver the claims of the products.
Also, in our packaging, we are very clear with our ingredient list. We know that approximately 47 percent of millennials read the ingredient label on the packaging, so brands can no longer make very vague statements or make claims about what’s in it. For example, ‘preservative free’ is such a wide-open topic — to have a stable shelf life you need to have some kind of preservative. For Naturally Serious, we use an antimicrobial system that works to kill off any bad bacteria, but they are all naturally sourced.
How, would you say, the customer values of millennials differ from other generations?
Millennials [are] embracing recyclable packaging, as well as all the other a natural trends, but I would say that Gen Z is far more aggressive with the environment — millennials are still very conscious, but Gen Z will be habitual about not using anything that might be remotely [environmentally harmful]. The trends are evolving into [questions like], “Where is that ingredient sourced?” They want to know the sourcing is conducted in a sustainable way. Millennials are responding to the natural trend, as well, but they want it to have a real brand story behind it.
What about the trends in wellness and beauty?
When you look across the whole [industry], wellness in the sense of traditional spas and going to a spa, and having a two-hour facial where creams are massaged on — that type of wellness is probably diminishing. It’s more of a lifestyle around having a mask that you put on at home, [where] traditionally, people would have had a facial once a month. If you look at the masks category and you look at social media, everybody is taking a picture with their mask on because it’s part of their lifestyle. That’s why we’re seeing a tremendous explosion in the mask category in the business. You used to get a treatment in a salon, but now you can do it at home.
What are some trends you’re seeing in the e-commerce and retail spaces, and how is Naturally Serious trying to fit in?
You used to just go and see a counter manager, and she would be there to tell you about the latest trends in beauty, and she was an advocate but was paid by the brand. Now people are saying, “Hey, that’s a brand representative,” and they look for information in a more authentic way. It’s been a very challenging road with traditional beauty retailing. It’s experiential now, and that’s why companies like Sephora have just exploded: They are the biggest beauty retailer in the world and the best retailer in the world, and they do it because their whole playfulness is built on experiential retail.
[Sephora also] does not discount, and discounting is a really negative trend for our industry. I’ve been around the industry for a while, and a few years ago, it used to be the gift with purchase trend, and it used to erode margins and educate consumers to buy on discount. We don’t want that; we should be standing behind our products and not discounting them. That’s why to have a great business at Sephora and be in a partnership with that retailer is such a great win for us. The [brands] they offer — you look at Fenty Beauty, which is an exciting brand — will reach consumers. For us, our brand and how we’re activating at Sephora stores is exciting. We have Skin Warrior [representatives] in there, and we are doing demonstrations; we are bringing the experience to life.