For brands like Dickinson’s, it’s witch hazel. This natural ingredient has been at the heart of the company’s business for 150 years since Thomas Newton (T.N.) Dickinson founded the modern witch hazel process in 1866.
After T.N.’s passing in 1900, his sons split Dickinson’s Witch Hazel Company split into two separate brands. The operation changed ownership many times over the years, but was eventually reunited by Edward Jackowitz in 1997. That acquisition established the Dickinson Brands Inc. that operates today from its headquarters in East Hampton, CT.
This privately held company—which has dozens of employees and is the leading name in witch hazel skin care and personal care products—is currently celebrating 150 years, a major milestone. The firm kicked off the year-long festivities at its annual holiday party with a special video (https://vimeo.com/150711919), and for consumers, Dickinson’s plans to promote its history and heritage in-store and on-line with education and giveaways,” said Bryan Jackowitz, president of Dickinson Brands.
Plus, the brand is rolling out four new products, making 2016 the most active year in its history.
The new offerings include what it contends is the first eye gel based on their star ingredient. Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel De-puffing Eye Gel ($12.99) utilizes the power of witch hazel along with caffeine, cucumber and aloe to gently help awaken and de-puff tired eyes. The non-drying formula cools, soothes and smoothes the delicate under eye area for a healthier, more radiant look and leaves no sticky residue
The company is also rolling out Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Hydrating Toner, which gently hydrates and nourishes skin with aloe and vitamin E as it cleanses, tones and refreshes skin, and Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Extra Strength Deep Cleansing Astringent, which penetrates deeply into pores with menthol and eucalyptus to extract hard-to-remove dirt, oil and makeup.
“Each new product offers consumers expanded product benefits and/or convenience,” said Jackowitz, pointing to the changing needs of skin care consumers over time.
“Modern consumers are turning to multi-benefit products to meet their skin care needs. Through innovation, we have worked to enhance the tried and true, multiple benefits of witch hazel with complementary ingredients,” he said.
Additionally, the firm says it is expanding its dermatologist, celebrity, makeup artist and customer fan base that continues to “elevate the relevancy of Dickinson’s Witch Hazel products today,” according to Jackowitz.
That relevancy, according to Dickinson’s, stems from the company’s consistency.
“Dickinson’s heritage brands continue to thrive through consistent delivery of efficacious products, powered by our authentic witch hazel ingredients. We have stayed true to our roots by maintaining the same witch hazel formulas for the core products that have served past generations so well, only evolving their marketing to be relevant to today’s generation of customers,” said Jackowitz.
The company’s witch hazel harvests are all wild crop certified according to National Organic Program (NOP) regulations and State Forestry Regulations.
Dickinson’s long-running success can also be traced to that old-school marketing tactic: word of mouth.
“Customers are looking for time tested, tried and true products based on natural ingredients they can depend on. That is what Dickinson products are and what has made them a staple in American beauty regimens and medicine cabinets. Further, it is what has made us a “word of mouth brand” heralded by generations of mothers to daughters and fathers to sons as their beauty secret,” said Jackowitz.
But even with generations of users, Dickinson’s has faced challenges in the modern retail marketplace.
“Gaining incremental shelf space is our greatest challenge. We are competing against larger brands for this very limited and increasingly expensive resource. While our brands and products continue to be increasingly relevant and valuable to consumers, it is always a question of how loud you are able to shout your message among the crowd of brands on the shelf and in the media. You could have the best product in the world, but if people can’t find it or don’t know about it, you are not going to sell very much,” Jackowitz told Happi.
But the combination of its natural slant and made in America status, coupled with this year’s aggressive product launch schedule, should play a role in keeping Dickinson’s part of the skin care conversation—maybe even for another 150 years.
“These new products position Dickinson to better meet the changing complexion care needs of every woman, every day,” Jackowitz said.