40 years in, Derma E refocuses on customer acquisition

On the heels of its 40th anniversary, natural skin-care brand Derma E is updating its brand marketing and select packaging to appeal to younger consumers.

As explained by Katie Guild, Derma E’s CMO, the brand is approaching its refresh in a few stages. On Friday, Derma E rolled out a new marketing campaign, urging consumers to, “Break free from what’s trending, reach for what’s clinically proven.” The campaign, which highlights the efficacy of the brand’s products, features models with slight imperfections who experience some of the skin concerns the brand aims to resolve. The messaging focuses on educating about skin care and redefining what “normal” skin looks like. The included imagery, which is intentionally bright, bold and playful, will be promoted across all of Derma E’s social platforms as well as on its e-commerce site and in-store at retail partners.

“We think of ourselves as that entry point to serious skin care for the millennial customer,” Guild said. “So [in this campaign], we wanted people to be able to see themselves in the women featured.”

Derma E is also relaunching its bestselling Vitamin C serum with new packaging. “We made sure the new packaging was not just talking about our better-for-you ingredients but also connecting them to their end benefits so that the consumer can very simply understand what the product does,” said Guild. The serum, which retails for $24.95, will be available on Derma E’s site, TikTok Shop, and retail partners Ulta Beauty and Target. Derma E will also roll out a mini size of the product featuring the new bottle design.

To amplify the relaunch, Derma E is working with TikTok beauty creator Sonya (@sonya_styles; 1 million followers) on a “Ticket to Radiant Skin” giveaway campaign. Sonya will promote the contest on TikTok, and consumers can participate by purchasing the limited-edition Vitamin C serum at Ulta Beauty or Target. In total, the packaging of 50 serums will house a “ticket” granting consumers $1,200 worth of products. Shoppers will also have the chance to enter to win a grand prize trip to NYC this fall.

Derma E, founded in 1984 by David Stearn and Linda Miles, was acquired by Topix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 2018. According to a 2018 report, Derma E and Topix do close to $100 million in wholesale sales. Guild declined to comment on the brand’s current revenue but shared that expanding its retail footprint through its current partnerships and Amazon is the next frontier for the brand.

Established brands undergoing a zhoosh in the name of attracting younger shoppers is nothing new. For example, Zales recently tackled a brand refresh to attract the Zillennial consumer.

According to Philip Atkins, founder of marketing agency Phidel Digital, increasing engagement is the key to building brand awareness for heritage brands.

“Virality is a nice to have, and when it happens, amazing — but it should not be a KPI,” said Atkins. “You can control engagement, because engagement is driven by the strength of your messaging, the strength of your creator partnerships and the strength of your ability to be in dialog with your customer. The more that users are talking back to you about a product or talking to each other about a product, this sets you up for longevity.”

He added, “Ultimately, social conversation leads to product reviews, and product reviews are a top conversion driver.”


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