5 Insights on growing a beauty startup into a new market
In this installment of the 5 Insights video series, Lori Machiorlette, Co-Founder of the beauty device brand blendSMART, discusses how, when, and why she and her team launched the brand into a new international market.
When is the time right to launch an indie beauty brand into an international market?
blendSMART launched in Taiwan just last month. When asked about the decision and timing of going into the APAC region, Machiorlette explains that “blendSMART has always been fortunate in that we have global intellectual property [both design and utility patents].”
“We also had the wonderful opportunity of being a collaborative brand on QVC,” she says. “And on QVC, we sold out in markets from the UK to all of Europe, in addition to the US. So we had put our toe in the water on international.”
“When COVID hit…we [had] to be open minded about where we have to go,” admits Machiorlette. And in the full 5 Insights video at the top of the page here on CosmeticsDesign.com, she goes on to explain how existing business relationships helped guide the brand’s new market launch.
Making marketing and branding make sense in a new beauty market
blendSMART made big changes to reach Asian beauty consumers. “Our branding and marketing strategy was radically different than when we launched in other markets,” says Machiorlette.
The aesthetics of the brand’s signature rotating makeup applicator brush needed to change. “In the US, we seem to love gloss, we love bright colors…in Asia, they really prefer a very matt finish.”
“But the radical change was,” she says, “the speed. The motor is significantly slower than the US motor.”
And blendSMART revised its marketing for the Taiwan launch as well. Consumers in that country, says Machiorlette, appreciate tutorials and information on how a beauty product works and how to use it.
Scaling a beauty brand beyond its hero product through market expansion and partnerships
“Of course sales is the direct driver in how fast and far we go,” Machiorlette tells Cosmetics Design. Which is why she and her team are starting to “look at blendSMART as more than a tool and more like a vertical [built around] this whole concept of blending.”
She considers why the hygiene chic trend that’s begun to emerge during the COVID-19 pandemic resonates in Asian markets and how that can be an advantage to “finger-free” beauty brands like blendSMART.
Still, she acknowledges, there are challenges (as well as opportunities) when it comes to a beauty device brand. “Our margins aren’t like formulations,” she says. And, “we had a unique challenge in that we were the first in the sector—a rotating makeup brush was new to the market—so not only did we have to create awareness, but we had to educate.”
She also notes that in the device space, popular beauty tools and applicators act to establish a sort of framework of consumer expectation and that startup brands like blendSMART either have to work within that framework or break out of it—both of which can be challenging.
Learn more about launching an indie brand into a new international market during a pandemic in the full 5 Insights video (at the top of the page), featuring Lori Machiorlette, Co-Founder of the beauty device brand blendSMART.