Independent beauty brand Wo Skincare talks sustainability, personalization and expansion plans

Launched in August 2020, Wo Skincare offered a small line of multi-functional daily facial creams and active serums, designed to be used by women and men as part of a simple two-step routine. Individually packaged in single-dose vials or blister packs, consumers selected suitable references using the brand’s online skin diagnostic tool.

Wo Skincare’s line was currently available on its own brand website, as the company was direct-to-consumer (D2C), although it was currently exploring partnering options to launch on Main Street in the near future.

Building a brand that moves away from “fast beauty”

Karen Lee Thompson, founder and CEO of Wo Skincare, said she developed the brand to fill a gap in the skin care market – lasting simplicity.

“My dream was to create a brand that would really help people make everything easier. “Thompson told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

After more than 20 years in the corporate beauty world, including working with the Walgreens Boots Alliance NPD team, she said the goal was to only produce products that meet specific consumer needs.

“My job has always been to create NPDs, beauty innovations. And every day, we research innovations and launch products, certain whether the consumer needs them or not. This whole decade of quick beauty really hit me in the end.

This is why Wo Skincare designed its skin diagnostic tool and tested its proof of concept in collaboration with the UK University of Bradford pre-launch, she said.

Diagnostics to develop the ideal “skin care wardrobe”

Wo Skincare’s digital diagnostic tool recommended products based on real-time consumer needs [Image: Wo Skincare]

The online tool created a personalized skin score for consumers based on eight main concerns, including oil production and sun exposure. Using an algorithm designed to sift through a series of published scientific data, the tool then matched the active ingredients and formulas to the personal needs of consumers.

Thompson said the diagnostic tool was a way for consumers to select the right amount of product, for a given fortnight or month “Because your skin is changing all the time”.

“It depends on the lifestyle, the diet, the environment, the key is to be able to catch these signals. … We think of it as a wardrobe – a skin wardrobe with a lot of different combinations for your skin.

What this then allowed, she said, to consumers to reduce the total number of skin care products they were using.

“The industry always encourages people to use a lot of products, a lot of steps; they keep making tons of NPDs and I think the opportunities are for brands who really understand that consumers need a simpler lifestyle.

The future of skin care was personalized, efficient and straightforward, she said, as these concepts directly address the needs of today’s beauty consumers.

Reduce, reuse, recycle – “our packaging is a key differentiator”

Wo Skincare Founder Said Its Packaging Is Durable Not Only Due To The Material But Also The Overall Reduction Concept [Image: Wo Skincare]
Wo Skincare founder said its packaging is durable not only because of the material but also the concept of overall reduction [Image: Wo Skincare]

And that ties into a significant business value, Thompson said, to reduce, reuse and recycle, including through packaging. “Our packaging is our main point of differentiation. “

Each bottle or blister, she said, was made from recycled PET plastic and fully recyclable using sustainable printing methods and no adhesive labeling. The single-dose format then reduced the waste typically seen when consumers used larger bottles or jars of active skin care products, she said.

“When it comes to sustainability, especially packaging, most of the time people only look at one thing, which is the material itself. But for me, sustainability is a much bigger thing. Reducing waste is the most important thing, I personally believe 100%, in this industry. “

“… The beauty industry is used to creating beautiful products, but my approach is how do we take all of that out and make it as easy as possible?” “

Wo Skincare’s single-dose concept not only managed consumption at the consumer level, she said, but also reduced any issues with the stability, efficacy or safety of active formulas.

The brand also delivered its products via the British Royal Mail postal service in a recyclable bag that also served as a bag for throwing out each of the empty doses, and each order came with a single product leaflet explaining the contents and how to use each SKU. . .

“Sustainability is the biggest challenge for everyone. I know a lot of big companies come together, trying to form a collective and tackle problems together, but I think between the “big boys club” and the independent brands there has to be a bridge between the two, to uplift everyone in this industry to be able to achieve the greater good ”,Thompson said.

Beyond UK – Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and the US

Over the next three to five years, she said Wo Skincare will continue to expand its footprint and presence in the UK and eventually look to expand beyond its home market. Countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore had already shown interest, she said, but the large US market was also a long-term expansion target.

Karen Lee Thompson, Founder and CEO of Wo Skincare
Karen Lee Thompson, Founder and CEO of Wo Skincare

“In the UK, I am determined next year (…) to offer more experience-based spaces, to connect more with consumers. Because I think skincare is such a sensory product at the end of the day – you have to let people experience it, play with it. And our product is designed to withstand the test of texture for all kinds of people.

When asked how the brand would remain competitive in a booming sustainable skin care market, Thompson said: “Our entire design, from the multifunctional product to the choice of packaging and the ingredients we have chosen that provide the best performance (…) I think we are ahead of the game. I can say it with confidence.

Wo Skincare would also continue to communicate on its clinical trial data for the brand’s flagship products – the four daily base formulas and its conditioning oil – as well as the results of a panel of more than 60 consumers for the rest of the year. range.

“As an independent brand, we have gone above and beyond. I’m from Boots, so the only way I know how to develop products is with Boots’ quality,she says.

In the future, however, it would be good if the skincare category and the beauty industry as a whole stopped seeing themselves as competition, she said, and acted more as “Allies who can do the right thing for the next generation”.

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