In the beauty industry, appearances are everything, and today’s heritage brands are changing course to be seen as more valuable to consumers’ lives.
On Wednesday, St. Ives, best known for its apricot face scrub that is sold in mass stores like Walmart, is launching an ongoing campaign called #NatureReset to target stressed-out and ingredient-conscious customers, with a focus on young millennials and Gen Z. Nature Reset includes other components, including a double-decker tour bus that will travel to cities like New York and Chicago, a yearlong digital campaign on Instagram, a travel contest with National Geographic magazine, updates to product packaging including the added mention of nature’s benefits, and a new content website dedicated to nature and wellness. St. Ives, founded over 30-years ago and acquired by Unilever in 2010, is one of many heritage brands that have decided the only way to keep up with indie brands and current customer mindsets is to hit refresh.
“We know that consumers stopped believing in ads years ago. They want two-way conversations, and this is another step in the journey of standing for something and contributing to consumers’ brands and values,” said Sarah Irby, St. Ives’ director of U.S. face care and fast beauty. “We will, of course, support our hero products, but it’s critical for any brand today to be more than just products.”
St.Ives and other companies, like skin-care brand Crabtree & Evelyn and hair-care brand Conair, have recently undergone brand identity overhauls. Crabtree & Evelyn, founded in 1973, launched on July 16 a new content platform and e-commerce site to highlight its relationship with nature, while Conair, founded in 1959, debuted an Amazon storefront to focus on travel, beauty and wellness on July 9. It’s worth noting that while these brands are likely investing a lot to change up their imagery, content and brand voice, they are not overhauling their product portfolios.
St. Ives has long positioned itself as a Swiss brand combining natural ingredients and science-backed technology, and although it has imported Swiss ingredients and maintained a small lab in Scion, Switzerland, it was founded in Chatsworth, California. Rather than promote its Swiss connections, as in the past, it is now propping up its natural claims. St. Ives declined to cite sales figures or growth, but overall, the global natural and organic beauty market is expected to be valued at $22 billion by 2024, according to Statista.
Kicking off St. Ives’ Nature Reset, the traveling bus will make stops in New York City and Chicago, and at Walmart and Target stores in cities throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania. The bus, which is not promoting a specific product, is meant to offer invitees the opportunity to experience a sampling of the great outdoors. The brand is promoting the tour through its own social channels like Instagram where it has 129,000 followers. The tour will start and end at the same time as St. Ives’ partnership with National Geographic, which will involve publishing weekly videos on Instagram explaining the scientifically positive effects of nature, from July 24 to Aug. 31. Additionally, the two companies are running a sweepstakes called #StIvesNatGeoContest through the end of August on their social media channels. Followers can tag photos of outdoor experiences to win the chance to go on a photo expedition to Yellowstone National Park in February 2020. According to National Geographic’s 2019 media kit, a third of its readership are millennials, and it became the first brand to reach more than 100 million followers on Instagram in February.
Joshua Fishman, St. Ives’ senior brand manager, said 90% of the Nature Reset campaign is based on Instagram. Through Instagram, the brand is also directing people to the new content vertical (also called #NatureReset) on its website.
“We are in a lot of households in the U.S., but we also want consumers to know there’s an opportunity to tie directly to the brand by enriching their lives [by encouraging them to get outside],” said Fishman. “This is bigger than one product. All products tie back to nature reset, and it’s our commitment to bring a boost of happiness to our customers.”
Photo credit by St. Ives / Bryan Bedder for Getty Images.