Finding the right retailer for your cosmetics brand

- Originally from the Westcoast of America, Dorian Vining has worked a combined 9 years between Macy's and Nordstrom in the cosmetics department, working directly for brands such as Estee Lauder, Prescriptives, Kiehl’s, Smashbox, and Clarins. Dorian has seen the struggles consumers face when navigating a sea of brands and products. Read Dorian's tips and insights on how to have your products and brand stand out, and get a leg up for your sell-in.

What is important to today’s beauty consumers? 

Gone are the days where consumers are brand loyal. They are more interested in filling their makeup bags with the products that best fit their needs rather than focusing on one brand’s complete line.  Consumers today are savvy and do their research before investing their money. We see that price is no longer the main driver. Here are some of the factors that consumers evaluate before purchasing:

  • Is there a shade that matches their skin tone and color?  
  • How does the product perform throughout the day? 
  • The ingredients in the product matter!
  • What is innovative about the product? 
  • What environmental impact does this brand have? 

It is key to create long-lasting products that both look and feel good on the skin, without the worry of makeup caking, creasing, or wearing off. What goes into your products truly does matter to the cosmetic consumers today. They want products that are beneficial to the skin and contain more high-performance ingredients and fewer fillers.  

How are consumers buying their products today? 

While the trend for online shopping continues to grow, cosmetic consumers still show that it is important to be able to experience products with all their senses. They want to be able to compare several products against each other to see how it fits with their needs and concerns before they decide on what to buy.   

With traditional retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, Saks, Dillard’s or Bloomingdale’s, brands have dedicated beauty advisors who are there to represent the brand specifically and give one on one attention to buyers. In stores like Sephora, ULTA, or Kicks, the user experience is self-driven with products and testers available at your fingertip. We see these lines blurring in stores such as Blue Mercury, where industry experts are hired to help with prescribing the appropriate products for the consumer with a myriad of lines within their reach.  

The option for subscription boxes such as Ipsy Glam Bag, Allure Beauty Box, and BoxyCharm has boomed over the last few years. For a set monthly fee, a box of new products, catered to the individual’s needs are shipped directly to your door every month. Consumers get to experience products from a range of brands and can then purchase the products that worked for them. Regardless of where you are selling and promoting your product, the user experience is one of the most important factors in being successful. 

Where is the best place to see your products? 

 Having your products sold at major American retailers such as Sephora, Nordstrom or ULTA is something many cosmetic brand owners dream of. Brick and mortar stores have evolved a great deal over time, making it more feasible for smaller lines to get their foot in the door of different types of stores, but here are some questions you need to address when deciding where to see your products:

  • Who is your target audience and where do they like to shop? 
  • What stores are the best fit for your brand and products?   
  • How do you find the right buyers?
  • How do you pitch your products to buyers and merchandisers and get noticed by Sephora and the likes?
  • How can you help your ‘partners’ like retailers sell your products?  

It’s never been easier to find buyers and merchandisers online. Professional networks like LinkedIn lets you easily connect with the right people. Some brands use specific online platforms where retailers and suppliers can connect to grow their businesses. Sephora and ULTA use the platform RangeMe, where your product is matched with the right category buyer – ensuring your products are showcased to the right people.

Piecing together your samples kit to send out and showcase your product range is another great way to stand out with the ability for high personalization and customization. For a retailer to want to sell your brand and products, you need something different. For both of you to be successful, you must be able to offer what the consumers are looking for: new, innovative, different, inclusive, sustainable and performance-based products.

Finding the right fit for you – support your brand vision 

Given all the avenues to sell your products, you must be strategic about what makes the most sense for your company and vision of the future. Keeping in mind that if you get into a large retailer, you will have to ramp up your production of products to fill the demand, whereas if you want to promote your products online or with a smaller retailer, your demand for production is not as great. So, it is important to determine which outlet best supports your brand’s vision and capacity. In order to stand out and get the attention of retailers and consumers alike, you must have a product that stands out from what is already on the market. Having a strong marketing campaign will draw attention both online and in-stores. Ingredients, innovation, inclusivity, and performance are at the forefront of what makes new products successful in the market.  

“Consumers will be loyal to a product while it is doing everything that they want it to do…”

I found that what made my clients the happiest was finding products that matched their skin perfectly, addressed their needs and concerns, and had ingredients that they were happy to put on their skin daily. Consumers will be loyal to a product while it is doing everything that they want it to do, but they always have their eyes open to what is new and innovative, because they know the market is continuing to evolve. With a great understanding of consumers and brands alike, I found my way to the Disruptive Materials cosmetics team, where I can connect with cosmetic brands to create innovative products, using Upsalite®, a mesoporous magnesium carbonate also known as the “Impossible Material”. Upsalite was successfully created by our company founders, after over a hundred years’ worth of attempted experiments by scientists around the globe I am so excited to help cosmetic brands bring cutting-edge technology through ingredient branding, helping them stand out against the competition.  

In the end, what matters is having a product that stands out from the others by having unique selling points, quality ingredients, coming at the market with a strong marketing plan, and selling your product in the channel(s) that are most appropriate for your company. Remember there is always room to grow and expand, so it is more important to grow at the pace that is right for you and have a product you can be proud of.