Hero brands are so called heroes for a very good reason - they SELL

Not all launches are eagerly welcomed by consumers and there’s a huge attrition rate. esprit asked leading brands to reveal what flies off the shelves fastest

by Elisabeth King

The number of new beauty and personal care products launched each year is staggering and it keeps growing. Not all are eagerly welcomed by consumers and there’s a huge attrition rate. In a bid to suss out the champs that just keep selling year-in, year-out, esprit asked leading brands to reveal what flies off the shelves fastest.

Prestige Power

A hero product strategy is crucial to success in beauty today, says Shannon Edwards, National Marketing & Communications Manager, Estée Lauder and Aerin Beauty. “The idea of customers buying every product from one brand just isn’t happening. Consumers today want to curate a capsule wardrobe of cult products.

The rise of influencers, social media and YouTube has played a huge role in driving this demand, adds Edwards. “As the consumer has become more educated we’ve seen a lot of market growth coming from hero products in more niche sub-categories, particularly within makeup and skincare treatments. This has helped many brands gain a foothold and recruit new customers, but the challenge can be translating this into long-term, sustainable and profitable growth.

Advanced Night Repair and Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup comprise more than a third of our business, and continue to drive brand growth after more than 30 years. Our ‘superheroes’ have both incredible recruiting power, and an intensely loyal customer base, and in both cases that’s due first-and-foremost to a truly superlative formula”.

Given the price positioning of La Prairie, it is crucial to ensure that customers are
so impressed with results that they return, again and again, says Ai San Beaumont, Regional Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Australia and New Zealand. “Our Skin Caviar collection recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and represents more than 40 per cent of the business because of its incomparable results. Hero products such as Skin Caviar Luxe Cream and Skin Caviar Liquid Lift continue to enjoy sales growth year after year because of repeat customers who view La Prairie as synonymous with luxury, scientific innovation and results-driven products”.

Internationally and domestically, Jurlique’s bestsellers remain our iconic Rosewater Balancing Mist and Rose Hand Cream, says Anna Mayakova, Marketing Director, Jurlique ANZ. “The rose is the queen of botanicals for Jurlique and it’s wonderful to see the brand’s heritage, established by Ulrike Klein more than 30 years ago, still resonating so strongly with our customers. A newcomer to our most iconic products list is Activating Water Essence, which harnesses the incredible hydrating properties of marshmallow. Since its launch in 2016, it has become a must-have buy for customers and now sits in our top five internationally”.

Clarins Double Serum achieved cult status more than 30 years ago when it launched as two separate serums in 1985, says Charlotte Turner, Head of Training at Clarins. “Combining more than 20 of our most potent age-control plant extracts, it has been renewed eight times to ensure it reflects the best in Clarins innovation for anti-ageing”.

Treatment oils are true icons for Clarins, says Turner. “The 100 per cent natural oils were perfect when they launched in 1965 and have never been reformulated. Eau Dynamisante, launched in 1987, was the first product to combine aromatic essential oils with the toning, firming and revitalising benefits of plants. A fragrance that fulfils the treatment properties of body products, it remains a global bestseller”.

In The Long Run

Many of Nivea’s bestselling products stem from the brand’s longterm dedication to high-quality skincare innovation, says Kate Hensley, Marketing Manager, Nivea. “This includes developing the first skin cream with our iconic Nivea Creme, which continues to be a bestseller worldwide. Other landmarks which have achieved cult status include developing the world’s first liquid body lotion – Nivea Rich Nourishing Body Lotion – and discovering the power of coenzyme Q10 in anti-ageing skincare”.

Nivea Invisible Black & White Deodorant is the number one anti-stain deodorant globally, says Hensley. “It prevents white stains on black clothes and protects white garments from yellow stains and is one of our best-selling products in Australia. Other local heroes include Nivea Q10 Plus Anti-Wrinkle Day Cream, Nivea Creme, Nivea Rich Nourishing Body Lotion, Nivea Soft and Nivea Sun Spray SPF30+”.

Just as first impressions count when you meet someone, iconic products provide an indelible entrée to a brand for potential customers, says Julie Chan, Brand Manager, L’Occitane Australia. “For example, our award-winning Divine Cream moisturiser establishes us as a brand targeting women aged in their 30s to 50s who are seeking natural ingredient solutions to ageing. From a commercial angle, in a saturated beauty market where new players are emerging every day, hero products provide a point of reference and a point of difference. They help to build a loyal customer base, attract new customers and drive long-term sales”.

At L’Occitane, our iconic Shea Butter Hand Cream is a perennial bestseller. “People even refer to L’Occitane as “the brand with the hand cream in the painted metal tube”. A tube is sold somewhere in the world every three seconds. But L’Occitane itself has developed a cult following over the past 42 years because of its intense commitment to natural products and its return to sustainable crop management for its trademark lavender, almond, shea butter, immortelle and verbena harvests”.

Private Formula was the first Dr LeWinn’s range launched in Australia more than
25 years ago, says Lucy Robinson, Dr LeWinn’s Brand Ambassador. “Private Formula Day Cream Moisturiser continues to be a hero product and is the number one selling product in the lineup. Designed specifically for the Australian climate and conditions, it has a proven anti-ageing effect. Eternal Youth Day & Night Cream was originally launched as a limited edition range for the brand’s 25th anniversary but is now our number two product because of its superior performance in rejuvenating and revitalising the skin. Both products prove that once consumers fall in love with a moisturiser, they find it hard to change as part of their beauty routine”.

Trilogy founders, Catherine de Groot and Sarah Gibbs, started the rosehip oil revolution about 15 years ago, says Corinne Morley, Trilogy global in-house beauty expert. “We now sell a bottle of Certified Organic Rosehip Oil somewhere in the world every 20 seconds. It’s a truly iconic product that cemented our reputation as a pioneer in the natural beauty oil category and gained the brand international respect. Trilogy has secured over 140 international beauty awards since 2009, with over 50 specifically for Certified Organic Rosehip Oil”.

Natural beauty started off a niche category back when Burt began in 1984, but the word quickly spread and our Beeswax Lip Balm soon became a global icon, says Leia Berryman, Senior Brand Manager, Burt’s Bees ANZ. “Fast forward to 2018 and the natural category is now bigger than ever with consumers looking to brands for trust and transparency. At Burt’s Bees our ingredients – right down to the packaging – are simple, natural and responsible. We practice what we preach – and we hope to set the example for others to follow. It’s for this reason that Burt’s Bees holds its loyal customer base and why the original Beeswax Lip Balm is still sold every second around the world. That equates to 30 million lip balms in a year”.

Spring Fever

Hero products are vital to La Roche-Posay’s success because they exude the essence of the entire brand, says Nikita Papas, Communications Manager, L’Oreal Active Cosmetics Division. “We are renowned for creating a better life for sensitive skin and our cult products are infused with the soothing thermal spring water from the brand’s 1700 year old namesake source. La Roche-Posay’s Thermal Spring Water is a bestseller because it is multi-purpose and can be used to refresh and soften the skin, reduce redness, soothe irritation and even set makeup”.

Other areas where La Roche-Posay excels are sun protection and acne management, says Papas. “Our Anthelios XL range has led innovation in UV protection for over 25 years and our bestseller in Australia is Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid SPF50+ because it offers very high UVA/UVB broad spectrum sun protection for the face. La Roche-Posay’s acclaimed acne-prone skincare range is driven by Effaclar Duo (+), which has been renovated recently with a unique prebiotic ingredient to help re-balance the skin’s microbiome”.

Avène Thermal Spring Water, also a facial spray, has become a cult product around the world, says Julie Dejean, Avène Brand Manager. “While our brand is so much bigger than one product, a hero/cult product increases brand awareness and is often the gateway for people to experience other products. Word-of-mouth plays a vital role as consumers tend to recommend hero products to family and friends. Avène Thermal Spring Water is backed by more than 150 clinical studies and is recommended by dermatologists worldwide. Once consumers try it, they love it and stick with it and tend to become loyal to the entire range”.

Superior Performance/Leveraging Bestsellers

Hero products are vital to sustainable, long-term success, says Lucy Bradshaw, Head of Couture Brands for L’Oreal Luxe.
“Frequently bestsellers, they are anchor points for customers to loyalise themselves to a brand and drive them to a brand’s e-commerce platform or to counters in department stores”.

While clients have the express goal of purchasing Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation or YSL Beauté’s Touche Éclat when they approach the counter, brands have the opportunity to introduce products to complement them and educate customers about newness in the range, notes Bradshaw. “Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation, for example, isn’t just loved by everyday foundation users, it’s a staple in many makeup artists’ kits and is loved by celebrities including Kim Kardashian and the Duchess of Sussex. When a formula is so loved by such a broad range of people, it is talked about on social and other media and through word-of-mouth and achieves a cult following.

Benefit has the number one mascara (Bad Gal Bang), bronzer (Hoola box o’powder) and brow product (Gimme Brow) in Myer stores nationally, says Beth Glancey, General Manager Benefit Australia. “Success that signals to us that we need to continue to invest in driving their stories through marketing initiatives and robust team education. Cult products ensure loyalty, but to attract new customers we look to such tools as sampling and saleable minis. Benefit is the global leader in minis and they are a strategic commercial play in best-selling categories. They’re half the price and reach a new audience of customers motivated by trial and a lower price point”.

Our cult products continue to sell well because they deliver an exceptional product experience, says Monique Smith, Marketing Director, Coty Consumer Beauty Australia and New Zealand, a portfolio which includes Max Factor, CoverGirl, Rimmel and Bourjois. “Consumers don’t have to lower their expectations because they are spending less. Our iconic products often out-perform similar ones that cost five times the price. They are recommended by friends, influencers and through the generations. The volume of calls we get through customer service trying to locate Max Factor Pan Stik is incredible. So much so that it is finally coming back to Priceline. That’s the beauty of a real cult product – it bonds women together and gets them talking”.

Leveraging our bestsellers has been a key growth strategy for Bourjois over the past 12 months and it has become the fastest-growing brand in cosmetics. “When women try Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation or Bourjois Rouge Velvet Lipstick, for example, they are hooked on the brand and are tempted to try more. So we ensure these are key points for the brand through media, in-store promotions, influencer seeding and trial activity”.

There is no better way to recuit young women to a brand than through a matte pressed powder, adds Smith. “Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder has been a go-to for younger demographics for years. We’ve developed trust on their entry into makeup and have built a relationship to help grow their makeup bag as they mature”.

CoverGirl is going through a total brand makeover, says Smith. “But it’s been crucial during the renovation to keep true to our cult products and ensure that we don’t alienate our loyal customers. The bold colours of LashBlast Mascara will still be popping off the wall, so women can identify we’re still the same CoverGirl they know and trust”.

Clear Point of Difference/Meeting Consumer Needs

When we launched our Luminous Hydrating Foundation we knew we had
one thing locked down, an award-winning formula that performed like a dream, says Markeeta King, Senior Brand Manager, DB Cosmetics. “Within a few weeks we had reviews coming in from big-league beauty influencers raving about the formula, coverage and finish of the range. When the noise around the launch reached fever pitch, we saw articles roll in from print and online media focusing on its performance and below-$20 price point. For DB, this was a dream result for one of the most important items in our consumers’ makeup kits”.

INIKA’s greatest success story of late has been Long Lash Vegan Mascara, says Celia Trevisani, Global Brand Manager, INIKA Organic. “Anyone in the cosmetics space will tell you how difficult it is to formulate a natural and vegan mascara that lengthens and fans-out lashes. We invested heavily in a four year R&D program to create a formula from scratch. We used techniques and previously un-tapped plant ingredients to create a formula that delivered professional pigment, buildability and hold. Within a year, Long Lash Vegan Mascara won six global beauty awards”.

Australis has been an iconic brand in Australia since 1987 and our hero products have gained cult status because they meet consumer needs and have a clear point-
of-difference, says Renee Rosperich, Innovations Director for Heritage Brands. “Australis’ speed to market on innovation and trend is a major advantage in creating hero lines from longterm basics such as Fresh and Flawless Pressed Powder to recent launches such as GRLBOSS Lip Cream and Neutralize Palette, where consumer demand outperformed original expectations”.

Le Tan has provided the very best in artificial tanning and sun protection for over 40 years, says Elizabeth Kazantzidis, Senior Brand Manager – Suncare for Heritage Brands. “Our iconic Le Tan In A Can and foaming mousses have become cult favourites, thanks to affordable price points, fail-safe formulations and streak-free natural colour”.

In Essence is committed to delivering superior quality pure essential oils, but
the brand’s loyal following and army of brand ambassadors is due to its dedication to inspiring and educating Australians to transform their health and well-being, says Stephanie Rep, Senior Brand Manager. “The much-loved Breathe Easy essential oil blend is our best-selling pure essential oil over the winter season and the go-to in many households to relieve cold and flu symptoms naturally”.

Going Viral/Timeless Appeal

To achieve cult status, a product must not only be marketed well it must also deliver on its promise, says Leanne Harris, Marketing Manager, Heat Doward. “We are lucky at Heat Doward to manage such household name brands as Billie Goat, TBX, Ulta3, MUD and essence. Billie Goat soap, for example, is a product that truly works. For customers who suffer from eczema and psoriasis, Billie Goat soap offers a natural, cost-effective alternative to ease their symptoms and this simple message has won over many fans for the last 15 years”.

Lash Princess Mascara has always been a favourite with essence customers, says Harris. “But it recently reached international cult status following a customer review that was posted on reddit.com that went viral. Based on the product’s outstanding performance and incredibly affordable price, bloggers worldwide were quick to follow and essence has gained a new legion of fans”.

John Frieda has continually led the way in frizz control, says Samantha Franklin, Brand Manager, John Frieda. “The introduction of the Frizz Ease range in 1989 was a gamechanger for the one-in-three Australian women who claim to battle
frizz and flyaways. Today, Frizz Ease continues to dominate the market, with a product being sold every 20 seconds in Australia”. John Frieda Frizz Ease Secret Weapon Finishing Creme is the number one hair styling product in Australia, excluding dry shampoo, says Franklin. “The combination of an iconic and effective formula that instantly seals split ends and locks in moisture, its ability to increase basket size makes finishing creme an ideal staple. Predominantly driven by word-of-mouth, it continues to deliver incremental revenue at a reasonably low cost to the franchise”.

Stronger Than Ever

Aveda’s definition of a cult product is one that achieves a 5 star rating and is highly recommended, multi-functional, offers instant benefits and meets a fundamental consumer need, says Clint Piper, General Manager of Aveda Australia and New Zealand. “Attributes that make them bestsellers with the power to recruit new guests to the brand. With the thousands of products available to consumers today, brand loyalty is becoming more challenging and it’s vital to develop cult products that become irreplaceable to the beauty routines of today’s consumers.

Although Aveda Hand Relief is the brand’s number one skin and body product in every channel, haircare leads the cult product list, adds Piper. “The Aveda Paddle Brush, invented by founder Horst Rechelbacher, remains a top recruitment and retention product and is one of our top 10 bestsellers. Other favourites include Damage Remedy Daily Hair RepairShampure Dry Shampoo, Thickening Tonic, Air Control Hair Spray and Be Curly Curl Enhancer. Texture Tonic which creates effortless waves is the number 1 most requested must-have product from the Aveda professional network”.

Marc Jacobs Daisy fragrance celebrated its 10th birthday last year and is stronger than ever, says Sandy Tang, Brand Manager – Luxury Division ANZ for Coty. “When it was launched in 2007, the radiant floral strongly resonated with young women at the time. The fragrance has continued to perform in the last decade as the focus has always been to bring back the Daisy masterbrand as a whole in both retail and media”. Even though we launch new initiatives every year, the base business and core personality of Daisy is of utmost importance to establish strong consumer connection to the original icon. Success that is based on its 360 degree execution – full media and in-store animation. Through the use of engaging social and digital content we have recruited new Millennial customers and re-engaged lapsed users. Appointing Kaia Gerber as the new face of Daisy has also cemented its cult status with today’s customer base”.

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