Once a month, the staff at probiotic skin care brand
Tula makes customer calls to better understand their
brand perception and path to purchase. Recently, one
customer revealed that she discovered Tula when she
received a sample from a fitness sample box. She later
watched a video from a health influencer regarding the
brand, then went on You Tube to watch another product
demo. Then, finally, the customer went and bought her
first Tula product.
As this example shows, the consumer’s journey is
changing fast. And so it’s critical for brands to test and
iterate their marketing strategies across non-traditional
channels and to engage consumers with stories that are
about more than just the product.
The Lifestyle Mindset
In a recent presentation at the Beauty & Money Summit in New York, Julia Straus, CEO
of Tula, said that the beauty industry tends to operate from a beauty-centric mindset. But
today’s upstart brands are exploring nontraditional paths to growth by collaborating with
influencers who address beauty as part of a broader lifestyle.
Tula’s customers tend to fall in the millennial sweet spot: ages 25 to 35. These consumers
view looking good as part of a balanced lifestyle that includes healthy eating and fitness.
Consumers care about context, said Straus, so Tula’s social media strategy has focused on
images of products within lifestyle-oriented content—adjacent to images of healthy foods
or yoga poses, for example. In some images, Tula products don’t show up at all.
Straus explained that consumers first want to know what lifestyle a brand is representing.
Only after this is established will they begin exploring and engaging with the brand.
Tula’s brand messaging is therefore less about immediate product benefits and more about
the incorporation of Tula into the consumer’s lifestyle. This means talking less about erasing
wrinkles and more about healthy choices in general across beauty, fitness and nutrition.
A Less Intimidating Message
To put its strategy into action, Tula has collaborated with health and fitness influencers, for
which there is far less competition, compared to leading beauty bloggers. Straus explained
that when a consumer hears a fitness influencer speak about beauty, it’s far more accessible
and less intimidating than hearing a similar message from a beauty expert. This comfort level
is critical, as many of Tula’s customers are buying prestige beauty for the first time.
While Tula continues to humanize its message, it’s embracing technology to innovate.
Tula has a small team, so it has leveraged lessons and tools from other industries to
enhance the consumer experience without overwhelming the team. For instance, Tula has
created chat bot platforms for customer service. It has also used texting as a format for
marketing and customer service, which has proven hugely successful—it also helps the
brand sidestep consumers’ crowded email in-boxes. Straus noted that Tula gets far higher
levels of engagement from texting campaigns compared to email. n
Julia Straus, CEO of Tula.
BEAUTY LIFESTYLE BRANDING:
TULA’S NEW STRATEGY
are value-minded and prone to seeking
out affordable, trendy brands like
CYO, ColourPop and Nyx—as long
as they offer comparable quality to
higher-priced brands. These educated
shoppers are increasingly aware
that many brands share the same
manufacturing sites—Beauty Pie
has built its business by exploiting
this knowledge—and therefore are
less likely to be swayed by marketing
stories. Brands like Lorac have
responded to the demand for value by
releasing large palettes, which have
expanded from traditional eyeshadow
to cross-category kits.
Famiano’s analysis found that
brands priced high and low alike have
begun to focus on personalization and
service as a means of differentiation.
For instance, St. Ives’ pop-up Mixing
Bar in New York offered consumers
an opportunity to craft their own $12
product by selecting from among “ 50
unique ingredient combinations and
desired body lotion richness or facial
When the pop-up opened in
September, Suzanne Palentchar,
St. Ives’ marketing director, said,
“Inspired by the best of nature, we’re
thrilled to unveil the Mixing Bar this
summer where guests can create
their own unique St. Ives face scrubs
and body lotions, all while learning
about the benefits our ingredient-led
Ingredient transparency continued
to accelerate in 2017, Jensen said,
with retailers and brands taking
public stands on ingredient standards
and disclosures. For instance, P&G
recently expanded its commitment to
transparency by disclosing fragrance
ingredients across its product portfolio
brands. The company will share online
all fragrance ingredients down to
0.01% for its entire product portfolio—
more than 2,000 fragranced products—
in the United States and Canada by
the end of 2019. And eco-fragrance
brand Clean has created a strong niche