It’s no secret that the key to a successful beauty brand launch is the planning you do beforehand to lay the foundations of your business. Below, we uncover how Nancy Twine, the founder of Briogeo, did exactly that to prepare her brand for success.
Nancy Twine is the youngest African-American woman to launch a line sold at Sephora. But how did she reach this level of success without VC funding, millions of dollars, or celebrity endorsements? In this article, we break down the exact launch strategies that Twine relied on to start her brand on a budget. You’ll discover why the most essential thing is to have a strong brand story and know your audience, why you should limit your product range at first, why it’s important to try new things and test, test, test, and why “less predictable” collaborations can help grow your audience like nothing else.
Do Your Due Diligence
Twine actively researched the market she wanted to pursue. To avoid surpassing the small budget she allocated for her beauty brand launch, Twine took advantage of free resources at the public library (her favorite was the NYC Small Business Library) and conducted small focus groups to test her product and the concept of her brand. “The more you can learn and strategically tweak your plan before launch, the better chance you have at bringing a strong product or concept to market,” she shares. During her research, she realized that there was a shift in the luxury beauty industry towards natural care, but it was more directed towards skincare. This meant that there was an open opportunity on the luxury end of the clean haircare market.
Taking the time to research and find an area of high demand boosts your chances of organic success. “Our growth has been completely organic,” says Twine. “Despite not having VC funding or celebrity endorsements, we’ve been able to grow the brand at a meaningful pace through authentic media and influencer support, extensive sampling programs, and close partnerships with retailers who have shown a true understanding and interest in the Briogeo brand concept.”
Action tip: Where is there white space in the market for your beauty brand? If you feel like it’s too saturated, where can you pivot to find a space that’s ready for you to conquer?
Hone Your Unique Skills and Experiences (and Delegate the Rest)
There is a 0% chance that you will be great at running every aspect of your business. Hone in on your strengths and delegate the rest. Before launching Briogeo, Twine spent 7 years at Goldman Sachs, gearing her up with knowledge on how to price ambitiously and save money on certain aspects of production.
Twine knew that her time at Goldman gave her a major advantage in certain areas of Briogeo. “Working in finance taught me a lot of basic skills like how to create spreadsheets, presentations, craft professional emails and manage a client base. It also taught me a lot of strategic skills like how to problem solve for our client’s needs, grow a business, and overcome challenges.”
Action tip: Before your beauty brand launch, make a list of 3 categories: 1: all the skills you’re great at in your business, 2: the areas you’re okay at but manage to accomplish, 3: the challenging areas that you could possibly delegate.
Nail Your Brand Story and Mission Before Your Beauty Brand Launch
Twine knew that having a brand that stands out in the market today needs to feel personal. That’s why, Twine’s priority was on having a brand story and mission that’s clear, strong, and emotional.
Her brand story is simple and can be easily summed up into one sentence: Briogeo’s products are inspired by the natural formulas that have been passed down 3rd generations by the women in her family.
Similarly, Briogeo’s mission is just as clear and easy to sum up: Briogeo promises nourishing natural haircare products with clean formulas for specific hair textures that actually deliver on their proposed benefits.
Action tip: Ask your friends or shoppers to explain your brand story and mission in one sentence. If they’re having a hard time understanding, you might need to simplify.
Know Your Market and the Pain Point You’re Solving
Since Twine is a member of her target demographic, she already knew the pain points that her customers were dealing with. She recognized how hard it was to find specific natural haircare products for her hair type without having to go to a specialty store. That’s why, since the beginning, Briogeo targets their shoppers by hair texture (including wavy, coily, dry, and thin hair types). “I remember going to CVS back in the day, and it was always very segregated,” Twine shares.
She had a hard time finding anyone who would manufacture natural haircare formulas for her at first. “People were literally telling me you can’t do this without silicones,” Twine says. “I had to do my own research and tell chemists what they needed to be blending in order to get it to work better.”
But Twine didn’t give up. Since she deeply understood her target market, she knew that there was a massive demand for her products which gave her the validation to continue searching for the right manufacturing partner. “Clean beauty is one of the fastest-growing segments of the beauty industry, but there are few nontoxic haircare lines in general and even fewer for textured hair. That gap has created a big opportunity.”
Get Your Pricing Down
Choosing the right price range is essential when it comes to positioning your brand successfully from the beginning. Twine did her homework and took the time to nail her brand positioning before her launch. For instance, she found the sweet spot for her price point that would give her a unique advantage over other competing brands. Briogeo’s scalp-exfoliating shampoo retails for 9x the cost of mass-market shampoos, but they’re still priced lower than many popular luxury brands.
“Most Briogeo products are priced slightly below other premium hair brands. This gave us a competitive price that helped convince retailers that our products could hit a new consumer: one who wants to buy a high-end, nontoxic product but at the lower end of the luxury range.”
Start Small for Your First Beauty Brand Launch
Before launching, Twine talked to different entrepreneurs to help her decide how many products to launch with. She realized that the way to go was by starting with a minimum of products that would target the main needs of her target customers. By 2013, she ended up launching Briogeo with just four products: one shampoo and three texture-specific conditioners. At the same time, she had a list of other products that she would responsibly launch only once she made enough of a profit to do so.
Action tip: What is the minimum amount of SKUs that you can launch with?
Test, Test, Test. Take the Risk of Trying New Things
The Twine way is to try something new, learn from it, analyze it, then continue the pattern. “…there was so much more I had to learn and do. And the best way to learn is to be thrown into something. Reading is helpful, too, but you learn so much when you’re put into the situation and have to react,” Twine explains.
While Twine had no experience in business, she knew one thing for certain: if people could just try the product, they would be hooked. Basing her marketing efforts around this belief, she decided to offer sampling via subscription boxes to get the product in the hands of 200,000+ women.
“I also had to start thinking about the consumer: Why would someone buy Briogeo over a well-known brand? I had to figure out a marketing plan and I knew sampling was really important. I felt if someone could try the product, they would believe in it.”
Make Room With Your Margins to Anticipate Growth
While this doesn’t happen to most brands, Briogeo has managed to be profitable every year of its existence. “From the start,” Twine says, “I wanted to make sure that our margins were good, so that not only could we reinvest back in the brand but so that down the line we never had to compromise.”
Action tip: Make sure your retail prices and projected income reports incorporate a big enough margin to be able to handle scaling and growth. This important step can help you avoid seeking outside capital down the road.
Social Media Giveaways
Since the beginning of their launch, Briogeo focused on giveaways that drove in new email subscribers. Seeing as email marketing is still one of the highest converting sales strategies as well as one of the best ways to maintain long-term relationships with shoppers, these giveaways have been a key to their ongoing success.
Action tip: Does your social media have a big picture objective, i.e. leading followers to sign up to your email list? You should be focusing on email from the beginning instead of on follower count!
Collaborations to Get More Eyeballs
Collaborations have become essential when it comes to generating sales in the beauty industry, but we see them almost exclusively in the realms of fashion and makeup. According to Glossy research, 38% of fashion and beauty brands said they saw collaborations as their greatest marketing opportunity last year. Partnering with influencers and other non-competitive brands is a great way to piggyback on their authority and loyal followers who value their recommendations. Briogeo has recently partnered with YouTube influencer Kathleen Fuentes. After working together in several YouTube videos, amassing over 3 million views for posts that included Brioegeo, according to Traackr. Twine shares, “[customers] are excited by launches that are less predictable but still important for their beauty routine.”
Action tip: Similar to Briogeo, you can build long-term relationships with influencers. After proven ROI, consider a way you can team up and build a mutually beneficial collaboration together.
Want to read another case study? We break down Glossier’s exact beauty brand launch methods in this article.
Launching your own beauty brand? I’ve got you covered. We’re launching the Beauty Brand Launch Method in May, my 6-week digital course to help you sell out your next launch. Want to learn more about the opportunity? Click here.
Written by Keemia Kaboli and Aggie Burnett