Launched in November 2019, Zero by Skin Academy offered a small range of 100% natural, vegan skin care products, including a face wash, hand and nail cream, day cream and facial oil. All packaged in fully recyclable packaging, the line was available in several outlets in the UK, Netherlands, South Africa, Canada and Chile, among other countries, and on Amazon. And last month, the brand secured a listing with Feelunique.
Dave Coulson, managing director of Skin Academy, said the expansion onto this retail platform was “really, very important” for the brand.
“Strategically, in terms of fit and in terms of where we are as a company and our life stage, Feelunique is one of the leading online beauty retailers in the UK. They’re also highly supportive of entrepreneurial brands and unique brands, and consumers know they are a place to go for those brands. So, the credibility goes with that and consumer exposure is really important,” Coulson told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
Whilst the Zero skin care range was available, on a very small scale, to buy directly from its own website, he said direct-to-consumer (D2C) wasn’t the long-term goal for the brand. Instead, Zero would continue its work with Amazon and Feelunique, adding further retail partners over time.
Zero is suited to a ‘variety of channels’
“Our strategy is to develop via online retail partners,” Coulson said.
So, why not take the more traditional D2C startup route? “I think startups that go down a D2C model tend to do it as a primary channel; they set themselves up as a D2C business,” he said. And Zero was well suited, he said, to “a variety of retail channels”.
Coulson said the plan was to be multi-channel, with online an important part of that. “For us, the route to market is quicker and more efficient [with] a wider audience if we go through these online retailers (…) There’s a reach these big retailers have that, as a startup, we wouldn’t have. So, we’re keen to find partners like Amazon and Feelunique.”
And that broader push was largely due to how and why Zero had been designed as a skin care line, according to Holly Wagman, head of new product development at Skin Academy and the brains behind the range.
Truly natural skin care at ‘an accessible price point’
“Our number-one mission was to create a truly natural beauty brand, especially in skin care, but also at a more accessible price point,” Wagman said. “…It was really important to put the two and two together: sustainability and price point.”
The Zero range retailed at between €12-€17 per item – fitting into more of a ‘masstige’ skin care position in what was a huge and competitive market, she said.
Coulson added: “The products are accessible; they are not premium, neither are they low value.”
And the bricks and mortar vision, he said, was that the range sat in mainstream grocery channels because a lot of masstige skin care products were bought “as part of the weekly shop”.
Staying 'different' in a competitive market
'“Natural skin care already exists, it’s evolving fast, there’s a lot of opportunities and challenges, lots of competition. I’d like to see Skin Academy and Zero leading that in some way – being seen as the pioneer in the category,” Coulson said.
Wagman agreed: “Our goal is to offer something different, whether it be the formulation, texture or packaging.
“…I think what’s really exciting is the development partners we work with. They’re starting to embrace the fact consumers are becoming more knowledgeable and demanding that skin care is 100% truly natural and sustainable. [Consumers] want options for their everyday purchases; they don’t want to just settle. We have to keep up with them. It’s constantly changing,” she said.