Cleo+Coco’s New Look Elevates Natural Deodorant
Deodorant isn’t a personal care postscript—and Cleo+Coco founder Suzannah Raff doesn’t think it should look like it is.
She teamed up with the agency We Are Purpose nearly a year ago to modernize her natural deodorant brand’s design to separate it from the crowds in its category. Besides cylindrical containers and the brand name, Cleo+Coco’s new packaging retains zilch from two previous designs. Already, the changes are gaining plaudits from distribution partners. Cleo+Coco recently entered the selection at Beauty Heroes and is premiering on QVC today.
“It’s time to make natural normal and make deodorant more luxurious. It’s something you should be proud to have and proud to put on,” says Raff. “It’s no longer just a drugstore product and something we don’t think about. It’s actually something that we are all thinking about a lot today. I want to take it a step above a typical green product.”
Cleo+Coco was born in 2017 after Raff, who previously worked in technology and marketing, decided to bring a formula she made for herself to market. It was one of the first brands to add charcoal to deodorants. Originally, Cleo+Coco had kraft paperboard packaging, but the brand quickly shifted away from it to plastic screw tubes following customer complaints that the kraft paperboard got greasy and didn’t close properly. Simultaneously, it streamlined its design. However, the improvements didn’t satisfy key retailers.
“I thought our clean, simple packaging was going to be enough because the product was so good, but the beauty industry wanted it to stand out more,” says Raff. Turning to the latest revamp, she continues, “It was a very professional rebrand, and I think the bigger retailers will take us much more seriously now that we have taken ourselves much more seriously.”
“It’s time to make natural normal and make deodorant more luxurious.”
We Are Purpose has given Cleo+Coco saturated earthy colors. The brand’s basil mint variety Brave Heart is signified by green; the grapefruit bergamot scent Great Expectations by orange; the bestselling lavender vanilla scent Sweet Surrender by purple; and the blue tansy sensitive option True Blue by blue. In an earlier rebrand, Cleo+Coco reduced its deodorant prices from as high as $22 to $17.99 for a 2.5-oz. size. The brand’s deodorant is currently $18 and its dry shampoo $16, a $1 above its price prior to the packaging renovations. The dry shampoo transitioned from shaker to pump packaging.
With the facelift, Cleo+Coco is emphasizing its ingredients. We Are Purpose developed drawings of the brand’s ingredients that are used in its social media feeds and on its website. The agency also developed icons illustrating that the brand is made in the United States, travel-friendly and natural as well as free of synthetic fragrances, phthalates, parabens, aluminum and talc.
“I would say nine out of 10 aluminum-free deodorants have a lot of synthetic fragrance,” approximates Raff. “It’s amazing that they are raising awareness for aluminum-free deodorant, but we are step beyond, and I think, in the next couple of years, the market will move a step beyond.” She notes a goal of Cleo+Coco is to “educate consumers that it’s not just about being aluminum-free, it’s about the quality of the ingredients.”
As part of its forward-leaning efforts, the brand is heightening its sustainability profile. It will soon introduce a dry shampoo refill program and a zero-waste deodorant bar. The deodorant bar will be 75% covered in biodegradable wax and, as the deodorant wears down, consumers pull off the wax. Priced at $18, the deodorant bar comes in a paperboard vessel with an organic cotton reusable bag.
“The bigger retailers will take us much more seriously now that we have taken ourselves much more seriously.”
“It is more expensive for us to make, but we are keeping it at the same price point as an incentive for people to switch over to zero waste,” says Raff. “I am hoping it will sell in volume to make up for the extra cost eventually, but this is a long-term vision. I think this is the direction the whole category is heading in, and I would love to launch more zero-waste products.”
Cleo+Coco’s sales in the first quarter doubled and, buoyed by the rebrand, Raff anticipates they will double to quintuple in 2020. She declined to disclose an exact sales projection or the amount spent on the rebrand. Raff shares, “I have a lot more interest from some of the retailers that said no to me before. I do expect in the next six months to increase our footprint with more well-known retailers.”
Currently, Cleo+Coco’s direct-to-consumer channel, which encompasses its website and Amazon, constitute the majority of its sales. To boost its DTC and retail business, the brand will participate in a FabFitFun subscription box this year, and it’s amplifying its press relations and influencer programs. In a previous run with FabFitFun, Raff reports, “I had a 98% percent sell-through rate. The way their boxes work is they have add-ons, so people picked the deodorants to add into their boxes, and they sold out of it completely.”
Self-funded Cleo+Coco turned to friends and family members for investment to support it at the outset, and Raff mentions it’s considering a line of credit or other investment mechanism to help it grow. While pitching investors, she stresses the ascendance of natural deodorants and the lofty lifetime value of Cleo+Coco’s customers. “Our repeat customer rate is exceptional. Customers are buying for themselves every couple of months, and they are buying for their sisters and brothers, their children and their husbands,” says Raff. “It makes a lot of sense to be investing in quality brands that know the deodorant category really well.”