Why it matters:
- Jane Iredale was a pioneer in the clean beauty business way before the term was even coined. With clean (brands without potentially harmful ingredients like phthalates) beauty now table stakes for brands entering the business today, Jane Iredale’s CEO Chris Payne found ways to reinvigorate the company while building new and repeat purchases in both its professional doors — from dermatologists to salons — and online.
- Under Payne’s watch, the brand is being reinvigorated with updated packaging, a rationalization of items to concentrate on the bestsellers, and an improved digital footprint.
- Striking a balance with professional, international, and DTC growth, beauty brand Jane Iredale is on track to have its biggest year ever, Payne told CO—.
Despite his experience in both retailing and brand building, Jane Iredale’s Chris Payne’s degree in anthropology might be his best training yet as he updates the legacy beauty brand.
Understanding the evolution of today’s beauty consumer plays heavily into the CEO’s strategies of balancing business in the professional channel, from dermatologists to salons, that’s been the core of the 30-year-old company with today’s omnichannel purchasing patterns.
While still involved, Iredale sold her namesake brand in 2019 to San Francisco Equity Partners, which wooed Payne to take on the CEO role. He arrived well prepared with professional beauty experience gleaned at L’Oréal, Clarisonic, and PCA Skin.
“We’re called the ‘skin care makeup,’” said Payne, adding that founder Jane Iredale’s clean makeup formulas filled a need in the professional channel, where most beauty products were skin-care-centric.
Rather than chase trends in the makeup market, Jane Iredale’s success is rooted in complexion products—a segment of makeup with more loyalty than eyes and lips where shoppers tend to flirt with brands. Jane Iredale’s best sellers include its primers, foundations, and hydration sprays, which produce about a third of its business.
“We opened more doors in 2023 than we ever have, and we’re not done with the year yet,” Payne said. Jane Iredale has opened in 396 new doors to date in 2023, a 41% increase versus 2022, while logging an 93% increase in revenue.
Jane Iredale CEO: ‘We had to walk a tightrope to honor the brand’s heritage — and attract more millennials’
“I was attracted to the brand because it has amazing formulas that change lives. It just needed an update, a refresh, and packaging that looks as good as the makeup makes you feel. But we had to walk a tightrope because we wanted to honor the brand’s heritage—[and] attract more millennials without alienating our existing customers,” Payne said. From his expertise in beauty, Payne realized the brand was not reaching its profit potential.
His plan seems to be clicking on all cylinders: Industry experts peg that sales will surpass $135 million this year. By dusting off old packaging, improving in-store displays, and revving up digital growth, Jane Iredale is on track to have its best year ever, according to Payne.
The blueprint for growth started with rebooting the products, including rationalizing more than 400 SKUs, updating the branding, and building new merchandising displays that are currently rolling out to its professional doors. The merchandising displays, called “beauty galleries,” hadn’t been updated in 12 years, and are crucial to attracting people in the professional channel.
The refresh is getting noticed. “We opened more doors in 2023 than we ever have, and we’re not done with the year yet,” Payne said. Jane Iredale has opened in 396 new doors to date in 2023, a 41% increase versus 2022, while logging an 93% increase in revenue.
The beauty brand now boasts more than 4,000 professional partners in the U.S. (It generates 30% of its business overseas.)
In addition to professional locations, Jane Iredale products are sold in physical stores with beauty services, such as Bluemercury, which recently expanded the brand’s distribution to 100 more doors.
The professional locations integrate Jane Iredale products into professional treatments, which introduce more people to the brand. “After Glow,” for example, is a post-skin-care treatment offered in those outlets that uses the brand’s products, such as the HydroPure Tinted Serum.
There is also a turnkey brow design service, a new lip bar, and a growing bridal service offering.
Salons and spas fuel customer acquisition growth for Jane Iredale
Jane Iredale’s effort to stand out in spas and salons is driving sales on-site, but also online for replenishment or fill-in needs. Jane Iredale’s focus on retail products sold at professional locations is fortuitous, according to projections from McKinsey & Company, which projects merchandise at spas and salons to grow faster than the overall services market. The market is valued at about $4 billion in 2023, and McKinsey expects sales volume to top $6 billion by 2027.
The professional channel produces 55% of new customer acquisition. Payne has been able to build a “pro-to-digital” distribution strategy that supports professional partners with digital tools for easy replenishment in their location, through their websites, or for easy replenishment on Jane Iredale’s e-commerce site. That bucks an industry trend where DTC has become harder and more expensive to build customer acquisition and retention in the beauty industry, according to industry expert Allan Mottus, and author of “Fashion Paranoia: Up & Down Beauty’s Rabbit Hole.” “Expert recommendations have more impact than ever,” said Mottus. “That’s a built-in advantage Jane Iredale has.”
Tweaking the online experience with a dedicated digital team yields 11% growth rate
Payne tweaked the online experience, pivoting from an outdated site that was promotion-heavy. He also created a separate digital team to build out the experience.
The combination of updated products at professional doors and the new site has resulted in more eyes on its website. Fifty-five percent of the website’s customers first discovered the brand at a professional provider. The company said the site has a 44% retention rate that’s contributed to an 11% growth rate for the online business. The online experience includes a virtual try-on tool, shade matching, a loyalty program, and high levels of service, including a live chat function.
Maintaining its “pro first” strategy, new products and promotions ship to professionals first and then become available online.
Jane Iredale is also joining the influencer generation to attract younger customers— but doing so in its own way. The company had its first official influencer trip this year but rather than jet people off to exotic locales, Payne showed off the company’s headquarters in Great Barrington, Massachusetts to capture “the essence of the brand.” Rather than go after mega influencers, Payne looks for those with engagement rates of 3% or better.
Under Payne, Jane Iredale is expected to grow year-over-year in all channels —the professional channel 12% to 13%; the digital 14%; and international 5%.
“The biggest challenge going forward is how successful Jane Iredale can be in bringing in new consumers, especially now that clean is a claim many brands make. The updates initiated are a good start,” concluded Mottus.
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