Birchbox may have made its mark on the beauty business through e-commerce, but the five-year-old company is becoming a little more traditional as it ages, launching a new TV campaign to increase sales. And less than a year after opening its first brick-and-mortar store, it’s opening limited-engagement shops within seven Gap stores around the country.
A TV spot, themed “There’s a better way to beautiful,” shows a woman walking down the street, ambushed by pushy salespeople bearing squirt bottles, menacing eye pencils and scary self-tanners. She escapes into her home, and the relative safety of samples that promise “beauty on her own terms.”
“We’re using the TV spot to speak to our target customers,” says Amanda Tolleson, director of brand marketing and strategy at Birchbox. “We’re looking at this large group of underserved women and their unique needs. This woman is not a beauty buff. She enjoys beauty. She knows it has an important place in her life and serves her needs. But it’s not her favorite hobby.”
While the company competes with such retail brands as Sephora, Ulta and department stores, the real insight has been “how little she enjoys it. Our research has 100% validated that our target customer says, ‘I shop in those places because I have to, not because I enjoy it.’”
The campaign, from Resource/Ammirati, is intended to drive top-line awareness. “We’ve grown up in the digital world,” she tells Marketing Daily, “and digital marketing is still a big thing for us. But we wanted to feed the top of the funnel. And the best way to do that is still through TV.”
The spot is scheduled to run through November on such cable networks as Bravo, E!, HGTV, MTV and VH1.
And even for women who don’t respond to the idea of getting to know products via a monthly sampler, “we still want to provide this overarching idea that there is a better way to experience beauty, and we’re hoping this spot helps create a relationship on the brand level.”
Birchbox was a pioneer among so-called discovery platforms, which thrive by making introductions between brands and consumers rather than simply offering deals. But as more companies step into Birchbox’s subscription-based e-commerce business model, it's stepping up its expansion beyond the web, including more branded stores, and even potentially its own private-label products.
The partnership with the Gap, which runs through the summer, includes stores in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston, and offers both men and women the chance to build their own Birchbox, testing new products and buying exclusive subscription starter boxes.