Start-up explores new selling strategy for beauty supplements

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Target market Marketing

Functionalab, a nutricosmetics start-up company, has developed a new strategy for marketing beauty supplements that puts the accent on education and consultation.

Beauty supplements are often viewed as the next big thing but how best to sell the new concept to a potentially cynical public is not yet set in stone.

Functionalab launched this week in the upmarket fashion store Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue in New York, presenting consumers with 100 new beauty and nutritional supplements.

The new company partnered with ingredients supplier Atrium to develop the supplements but it is not so much the products themselves but the way they are to be sold that marks Functionalab out from the crowd.

Need for closer contact caught up yesterday with Functionalab co-founder and CEO Erick Geoffrion, who said feedback from focus groups suggested consumers were not happy with current in-store counseling.

Because beauty supplements are a new concept, Geoffrion said much greater contact with the potential buyers is needed to convince them to part with their money.

Geoffrion also said the beauty supplements are closely linked to nutritional supplements and should be marketed as complementary goods.

Tailor made supplement programs

Functionalab therefore decided to offer made-to-measure beauty and nutrition guidance to consumers. One-to-one consultations with trained beauty-nutrition personnel can be set up to establish a cohesive program for consumers.

Using specially developed software, the consumer answers a diagnostic questionnaire and works with a counselor to develop a program that fits their lifestyle habits, activity level, age, environment and personal preferences and objectives.

Such individual attention can only be delivered at a price, and these personalized programs cost between $100 and $200.

In order to appeal to a wider audience than this price tag would permit, Functionalab also offers beauty and nutritional supplements and packs at a lower cost but without the same extent of personal attention.

Nevertheless, Geoffrion said the overall idea is to offer consumers “more than just a beauty supplement”​ but rather a full experience that includes support and education.

Target audience

So who is going to buy these supplements? Geoffrion said the target market for the new products is active women in the 35 to 65 age bracket.

However, Geoffrion said interest extends beyond these bounds and in the first few days since the products hit the shelves at Henri Bendel, he has been surprised by how many younger girls have expressed interest.

Plans for expansion hinge on whether Functionalab has hit on the right target audience and employed the right strategy to turn them into consumers. As things stand, the company plans to target the East Coast in 2010 and enter international markets at the end of 2010, early 2011.

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