Q&A

UK's NEOM partnering with Anthropology to bring well-being products to the "pale green" everywoman

By Ravyn Cullor contact

- Last updated on GMT

NEOM is looking to grow fourfold in four years, in part by filling the well-being space for the everywoman in the US. Photo courtesy of NEOM
NEOM is looking to grow fourfold in four years, in part by filling the well-being space for the everywoman in the US. Photo courtesy of NEOM

Related tags: wellness, Essential oils, expansion, Skin care

British well-being brand NEOM is partnering with retailer Anthropology to expand into the US market. CosmeticsDesign spoke with NEOM founder Nicola Elliott about the international expansion, the well-being space and the brand's "everywoman" positioning.

If you could give some overview, that'd be great.

Nicola Elliott: We are relatively new to the States, but we're actually 17-years-old, so not such a baby brand in the UK. In the UK, we’re sold in all the top department stores.

We decided to launch in the States with some slack partnership with Anthropology, and our online store as well, and I think the time is right for a few reasons.

One, we've really created the blueprint that we wanted to roll out within the UK. We've got six of our own stores and we're number one now in terms of well-being in the UK, but also I think you guys don't seem to have anyone who's really owning that space in well-being. 

We thought it was time to come to the States and create an online-offline rollout and I think Anthropology is a great partner for us because they really have that nice balance between being stylish yet desirable, yet having really well-chosen edited pieces in there, and we sit very much in that lifestyle space as much as we do in beauty. 

It can sometimes be difficult to get the right partner because a lot of traditional stores ask you “are you a beauty brand at the end of the day, or are you a fragrance brand?” and we are neither. I think the Anthropology offering is nice because it's not such traditional categories in that way. 

We exist really to help with well-being needs, less stress, better sleep, boosting your energy, lifting your mood. The fact that we define those has been part of our success because it makes what's otherwise quite a big and sometimes slippery subject a little bit easier for the everywoman to get a hold of.

The fragrances are twofold. One, they are 100% natural, only created through essential oils, which by the way have been blended to specifically have that purpose. But they also are really sophisticated, which as far as essential oils are concerned, is a really difficult thing to do. We make sure that we tried the tread the board between those two really important elements of the brand.

Can you tell me a little bit more about what expansion into the US market means for your brand? What's the value of expanding into the US market?

We actually have still an awfully long way to go in the UK, but I think now is the time for us really to take on another market and to be able to expand and to grow. We've got huge ambitions for the brand, we want to grow it fourfold over the next four years. 

We tested the US market a little bit online to check that you guys really understood the concept, that the fragrances translated correctly, that you had a need for products with the well-being angle and that all the metrics that we put in place came back.

We smashed it out of the park so it felt like it was the right fit for the market and the fact that we want to grow.

Can you define the difference between the well-being space and the more traditional personal care space?

In the UK we would call that bath-body. Typically the bath-body market has topical products that smell nice, have that desirability factor, but haven't got the ability to really change the way you feel.

All the products that we have are not only natural but laced with the highest inclusion of essential oils that have been blended to do that well-being job. They help you with your sleep as you put them on your body and you breathe the oils and they're absorbed into the bloodstream via absorption and inhalation. Then they're going to work as well-being treatments on you. 

If you bought something, for example, with traditional vanilla synthetic fragrance, you might like it, it might feel nice, it might make your body feel soft, but it's not actually going to work on a therapeutic basis the way that a well-being product would because it doesn’t have the inclusion of the purest essential oils which work in that way. 

What's the value for your company in coming into the US market where the well-being space is pretty open? 

We find that the more sophisticated side of well-being, primarily in LA is really buoyant. But there's nothing, or very little, that's for that everywoman which actually has been absolutely our white space, that average woman who we call in the UK a “pale green.” 

She's someone who might know a little bit about natural, she might know a little bit about essential oils, she might be slightly interested in well-being, but she's certainly no evangelist. That is our target market.

That's the area in the US that we're finding is, firstly, available because there are very few players in it. Secondly, she's now more stressed than ever before, so she's understanding the side effects of stress and the ramifications of that poor sleep, lack of energy, mood, or the things that we're for.

We have proven ourselves enough in the UK that we knew we could come and create these partnerships and get enough decent PR from great influencers that we can tell this story to her. I think with those things being in place it feels now that it's a more fertile ground for us. 

Can you tell me a little bit more about how your brand capitalizes on the green-curious consumer?

The “pale green,” that’s absolutely our target demographic.

How do we capitalize on her? We talk about the benefits of natural fragrances. We don't actually talk an awful lot about the nasty ingredients and what we wouldn't put in there. 

We speak about natural more in the context of the benefits of natural and how using 100% natural lavender, for example, is going to work from a therapeutic point of view as opposed to a synthetic lavender, which you may like the smell of and may be nice, but doesn't actually have therapeutic benefits. 

We have to bring that education to life and I think it's also important now that she has a little bit of knowledge, because when we started in the UK we were really up against it because nobody understood this movement at all. I think the food movement has been really helpful. 

We want to be pushing against a slightly open door, but then we will make sure that we talked to her about 100% natural fragrances and the straplines which are really important to us.

We're very careful about telling that story in a way that's engaging and quite democratic. It shouldn't, as I keep saying, be evangelist. It should be quite easy to get involved in, so we explain it in a relatively simple, user-friendly way.

What else do cosmetics professionals need to know about this move into the US and your hold on the well-being space?

I think a lot of green, clean brands have made their name by hammering home what's not in the product, and I suppose as a by-product of that have really taken a swipe against more synthetic brands. That's not what we're here for. But we are here to really explain the benefits of naturals and how they can really work to move the dial and use them in a much more sophisticated way. 

We have a huge demographic and age range of customers that come to us. We have 18-year-old girls that are buying us because they're stressed doing their uni exams. We have 65-year-old grandmas that are coming to us because they're looking after their grandchildren two days a week and stressing about their daughters. We have a bullseye woman who is buying from us, but buying in packs of four. For example, in our pillow mist, we sell more pacts of four than we do our single because she's buying one for her, one for a husband and one for her two kids.

There's a lot of elasticity in our brand because we're about those four need-states, so it's not necessarily a brand for a specific generation.

The other really interesting thing is the permission that we have to play in so many different areas. We just launched our overnight facial cream and we got like 200 five-star reviews in two weeks, which is just unheard of and we’re just absolutely flying.

Yet we can also play in candles where when they fill the room with fragrance, you breath and it helps you sleep. As time goes on we can work with the well-being apps.

The brand’s elasticity is really interesting and I think that's because we sit in this well-being space in the middle, rather than being a traditional fragrance brand or face care brand or whatever it may be.

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