Jamie Johns, director of merchandising skincare and body division, Birchbox, New York, NY, chats with Happi about this burgeoning business. In other news, Birchbox just launched its "Ready, Set, Summer" box for the season.
Happi: What are some of the big trends right now?
Jamie Johns: Recently, we've seen a big spike in the number of supplement brands. Everything from ingestible collagen, raw beauty powders, green tablets, personalized vitamins, and more. Why? Well, social media plays means you are looking at yourself and thinking about yourself in comparison to everyone else 24/7. I think people want to feel and look better, and supplements offer a potential solution.
In parallel and in contrast, all of the stresses of daily life and pressures of social media mean that people are seeking an escape. We are seeing more and more brands talk about self-care wellness practices like meditation, exercise, sleep, etc. as part of their story. In 2016, we started sampling This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray and we were surprised to learn how much our customers loved the product. It outperformed our expectations, and the product now has close to 7K reviews with 4.2/5 star rating.
Overall, at Birchbox we encourage people to see skincare as a self-care routine that is inherently wellness related. As customers become more and more "time poor," taking a few minutes of your day to take care fof your skin and treat yourself to something like a face mask is a good way to destress and disconnect from everything else you have going on.
Happi: What types of products are popular so far in health and beauty for 2018?
Johns: Supplements seem to be getting the most hype and buzz when it comes to the "wellness" category. But overall, I think the huge growth in skincare over the past year is part of this larger trend. People want to know how to take care of their skin and are willing to take the time to learn and experiment. At Birchbox, we've seen meaningful growth in skincare's penetration to our total business. Brands like Kiehl's, Sunday Riley, Sand and Sky, and many more have been attracting the attention of our customers.
I've also noticed an increased interest in baths. We launched The Best Bath Ever Kit in December and it sold out within a month, much faster than we anticipated.
Happi: What do shoppers want in their wellness products?
Johns: There is a continuing interest in skin care. People want to show their best skin and see skincare as part of wellness. Sunday Riley Good Genes was our best selling product during Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Skin care will be more and more saturated with new brands, products, innovations.
Products tied to self-care: think sleep solutions and overnight beauty products.
Brand values: I don't personally think that customers are as obsessed with organic ingredients as some brands would lead you to believe, but I do think customers REALLY care about what the brand stands for. Are they doing something to improve the state of the world? Especially for wellness oriented brands where their message is so tied to personal care, customers really want to feel some connection to the values of the brand.
Happi: Do you recommend any future trends to look out for in the wellness sector?
Johns: I think there is a lot of room for growth in the body category. Body care is either too elite and expensive (e.g. $80 body oil) or too mass (e.g. your handy Dove soap from the drugstore). There is a big opening for a brand to make a cool, reasonably priced body line. There is also a huge opening for more innovation in this category as well. Your skin is your largest organ so you have customers who invest so much on their face but rely on drugstore for body products.
I also see a rising trend in night time/sleep products. People want to use that time as a way to improve their skin and health, either through increased sleep (like This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray) or through overnight products that leave you with a better complexion in the AM.