Can Kourtney Kardashian’s New Lifestyle Website Poosh Push Sales Of Indie Beauty Brands?
When the first Goop newsletter was sent to 10,377 subscribers in September 2008, not even Gwyneth Paltrow could have imagined its banana-nut muffin and turkey ragu recipes were the seeds of a company that’s matured to a $250 million valuation by straddling beauty, fashion, health, retail, media and more.
Its success spawned several celebrity newsletters, websites and brands, some ill-fated (RIP Lena Dunham’s Lenny and Blake Lively’s Preserve) and some with fates yet to be determined (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Rose Inc. and Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James). Kourtney Kardashian is the latest well-known personality to enter the advice-giving, product-peddling digital milieu with Poosh, a direct descendent of and retort to Goop that purports to “curate a modern lifestyle, achievable by all.”
“I decided to launch Poosh because I felt that there was something missing in the healthy lifestyle space,” says Kardashian on the about page for Poosh, which is named after her 6-year-old daughter Penelope’s nickname. “Healthy living gets a bad rap; it’s as though if you care about what you put in — or on — your body, then you’re not sexy or cool. But this just isn’t true, and Poosh is here to prove just that.”
Kardashian laid the groundwork for Poosh by becoming a clean beauty advocate, consummate product recommender (she’s a longtime fan of Elta MD sunscreen, coconut oil and Agent Nateur aluminum-free deodorant) and beauty brand endorser. The former Manuka Doctor spokeswoman has lobbied with the Environmental Working Group for federal cosmetics regulation reform. Kardashian highlights EWG’s Skin Deep beauty ingredient database app on Poosh.
For indie beauty brands, particularly those in the clean beauty realm, Poosh offers a potentially lucrative opportunity to grow the audience for clean beauty products and generate sales. Kardashian’s Instagram following tops 75 million and the reality television program that made her famous, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” recently kicked off its 16th season. While its ratings have slumped—the Sunday premiere was bested by “Real Housewives of Atlanta”—the show airing globally is a drama-filled commercial for the Kardashians’ business ventures, including Poosh.
On the site, there are articles on organic wines, belly-flattening foods, mineral sunscreens, exercises to do on vacation and the secrets to shiny hair. The content is snappy, and the commerce is obvious. Products like Skyn Iceland’s Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels and Rahua’s Classic Conditioner appear at the bottom of articles with affiliate links directing readers to the places they can be bought such as Dermstore, Nordstrom, Amazon and Sephora. According to Women’s Wear Daily, Sarah Howard, founder of the blog Beauty Banter, is Poosh’s COO, and Michelle Scanga, formerly managing editor at Who What Wear, is its managing editor.
Jessica Maniatis, a clean beauty brand consultant counting Follain, Organic Bath Co. and Captain Blankenship among her clients, welcomes the spotlight Poosh brings to clean beauty and praises Kardashian’s initial efforts. “The branding and site design match her aesthetic—very clean and fashion—forward, perhaps like something we’ve seen already, but it works,” she says. “The site is easy to navigate, and the shorter posts feel refreshing. Seeing so many familiar brands, products and faces (Shiva Rose) in her beauty category is exciting, and the wide range of price points in the products she’s showcasing really makes it more approachable than I expected.”
“Contextual commerce—or the ability to seamlessly integrate a purchase experience in a native environment—is really where the future of shopping is going. A publisher like Poosh is helping connect the dots for consumers by exposing them to a highly-curated group of products, then enabling users to click through to buy.”
Martin Okner, president and CEO of DpHue, the brand behind ACV Hair Rinse, a product linked to on Poosh, says Poosh can clarify a product and brand positioning in a crowded market. “Now more than ever, consumers need to be educated,” he elaborates. “There is a lot of clutter in the industry, so curated content delivering messaging about how the brand can fit into a consumer’s life can be really powerful.”
In an e-tail environment dominated by Amazon, the information Poosh and sites similar to it provide bait the e-commerce powerhouse hasn’t mastered. Angela Johnson, director of e-commerce strategy at digital agency VaynerMedia, says, “Contextual commerce—or the ability to seamlessly integrate a purchase experience in a native environment—is really where the future of shopping is going. A publisher like Poosh is helping connect the dots for consumers by exposing them to a highly-curated group of products, then enabling users to click through to buy.”
Poosh’s capacity to prod purchases and draw eyes to its site will depend, at least in part, on the quality of its editorial. Goop has its fair share of detractors, but it’s hard to argue the site hasn’t sparked conversation with provocative pieces. In addition to Goop, Into The Gloss and Violet Grey have set high bars for beauty coverage online. Jayme Cyk, founder of beauty brand consultancy Cannonball Theory and contributing editor at Violet Grey, doesn’t think Poosh’s copy so far is on par with its progenitors’ content.
“I went through a lot of posts and found that the content felt recycled. For example, there is an ingredient spotlight on turmeric, which is a great ingredient, but there isn’t anything buzzy about it,” she says. “The same with foods to flatten your belly. These aren’t new discoveries in the wellness world and, with so much content and information out there, you really need to be ahead of the game and predict the future of the industry versus reporting on the past.” Cyk adds, “A lot of the products I saw on the site felt familiar, which is never a bad thing, but there’s a lot of competition, and you need an edge to differentiate yourself as a content and commerce platform.”
Of course, sales will tell the story. Indie beauty brands are optimistic Poosh can push products. Past mentions of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare products on the Kardashians’ websites and apps, shuttered digital properties that were produced with Whalerock Industries, yielded sales bumps for the skincare brand. Its $435 acne mask DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro is showcased on Poosh.
“I’m sure being featured on this platform will increase sales as well, although it is still too early to tell how this specific piece will impact revenue,” says Carrie Gross, CEO of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. POOSH’s focus on wellness aligns perfectly with our brand’s focus on self-care—inside and out—and I love how the site has creative ideas for combining science-backed at-home treatments with simple, organic products like coconut oil. I find the holistic approach very appealing. It is creating a grey area in a black and white world, which is very refreshing.”
Beauty industry experts bet Poosh isn’t finished with its commerce component. “Poosh could monetize the selling of the products on their own site by partnering with the brands as this is a huge marketing opportunity, especially for the indie and niche emerging clean beauty brands,” says Paula Scandone, founder of Bella Strategy Group and an experienced beauty executive who’s held posts at HauteLook, Belk, Saks Fifth Avenue and Ulta Beauty. “I think Kourtney has a higher level of authenticity when it comes to the topics she is presenting, which is important. She also has the ability to collaborate with celebrities and also create special exclusive collaborations with brands. This may be the next phase of the site.” And branded products are undoubtedly being considered, so be on the lookout for Poosh’s version of GoopGlow.