Customers Act As Co-Creators Of Italian Beauty Brand Superfluid
Every couple of days or so, skincare and makeup brand Superfluid poses a question to its more than 50,000 Instagram followers. There are silly questions such as, “Which comes first, cereal before milk or milk before cereal?” There are straightforward skincare questions like, “What’s your skin type?” Then, there are product-focused ones, including “What’s your go-to daily sunscreen?” and “Which packaging do you like most, tube or pot?”
When Milan-based Superfluid asked its followers about potential new varieties of its bestselling Superbalm product, the post yielded 600 comments and 47,000 likes. The input the brand receives serves as inspiration for product development. GM Stefano Tartaglia says, “What we wanted to do is establish a strong dialogue with our community and when the dialogue is a two way—so you tell, but you also listen—you can actually leverage a lot of that listening and use it to make sure that the products that you design and create are actually arising from what the community is talking about and what their needs are.”
Superfluid’s fans co-created its latest launch, hydrating body oil So Far So Smooth (26 euros or about $30 at the current exchange rate). “It was built with the community and our manufacturer, from the lightweight formula to the fast-absorbing texture, but also the color of the cap and the graphics of the packaging,” says marketing manager Alberto Scotti. Other products in Superfluid’s lineup include gentle foam cleanser Square One (16 euros or about $19), eye gel Cooler (16 euros or about $19), liner marker Outli(n)er (14 euros or about $16), lip-and-cheek stick Combo Goals (19 euros or about $22) and mascara Unlash Me(19 euros or about $22).
Before starting Superfluid in September 2020, Scotti and Tartaglia worked at Freeda, a media company that informed their approach to the brand. Superfluid is part of the sister company and used part of the $30M raised by Freeda from initial seed to series-B to fund the brand. The pair hope to raise money in the future. “We really learned how important it is to iterate the process of content creation together with the stimulus and the feedback and interaction of our community,” says Scotti. “And we wanted to really adapt this model for a DTC beauty brand.” Tartaglia also previously worked for the Italian beauty brand Kiko Milano as a global operations director, Amazon as a supply chain operations manager and Unilever as a logistics manager.
On average, a Superfluid product is priced at 18 euros or about $21. Scotti explains the brand landed on a masstige price range after looking at brands such as Glossier with a similar customer base of millennial and gen Z shoppers. “We try to pair affordability with the effectiveness of the formula,” he says. Among the common skincare ingredients in Superfluid’s formulas are niacinamide, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid and squalane. Its products are 100% vegan, and select packaging is made from bio-based plastic. Superfluid’s bold colors make it stand out on the screen. Scotti says, “We tried to introduce a little bit of fun into skincare, which is traditionally very severe.”
Superfluid donates 1% of global revenues to mental health initiatives in Italy, the United Kingdom and other countries. “It was spelled out so much as a need from our community given the time that we live in and the tremendous pressure on the mental health of those younger generations,” says Tartaglia. “That’s more of a tangible aspect of what it is we’re trying to do that’s larger than the commercial strategy of the brand.”
Superfluid ships across Europe, but its marketing efforts so far have been focused on Italy and the United Kingdom. “In the beginning, we wanted the brand to be very much community-based, and the only way to do that is to establish this relationship directly with consumers and, eventually, with your community, but as a natural step for the evolution of the brand, we do have the wholesale model in mind,” says Tartaglia. “It’s about taking Superfluid and its growth into a scaling phase and into new and larger markets.”
In the U.K, Superfluid recently launched exclusively with e-tailer Beauty Bay, and Tartaglia and Scotti have their eyes set on the United States and beyond. Tartaglia says, “We’re interested in America not just because it’s an interesting and large market, but because of the level of awareness consumers have toward brands that are a little bit more than their products. So, brands that provide representation of a community or representation of the consumer from a value standpoint.”
Superfluid’s values are closely connected to its customers. While its campaign imagery is inspired by Gucci Beauty, instead of using picture-perfect models, the brand prefers to showcase actual skin with acne, stretch marks, rosacea and all. “It’s all about the sense of self-acceptance and self-love as a shift away from the traditional way of talking about beauty,” says Scotti. “We want to disrupt that paradigm of toxic and aspirational beauty standards and restart the approach of beauty in real life and accepting ourselves more than fitting into any standards.”