Loveskin Steers Clear Of The Same Ol’ Skincare By Initiating Customization Program
At the websites of the Auckland-based natural brands founded by Joanna Lehndorf with partner Gareth Edwards in the case of The Dark Heart Beard Co., people tailor facial serums, body oils and facial moisturizers to their preferences. All it takes is about two minutes to fill out a questionnaire, a willingness to share information about skincare goals and environmental circumstances influencing skin conditions, pick botanical oils and scent, and spend $99 New Zealand dollars for a 50-ml. bottle.
“In a homogenized world, customers really enjoy the opportunity to personalize their products,” says Lehndorf. “We still believe in the products in our line and their abilities, but this is experiential, and it speaks to the individual. I want to have relationships with the customers.”
Loveskin and The Dark Heart Beard Co. aren’t the first to discover the power of personalization. Beauty companies big and small from Source Vital Apothecary to Shiseido, which acquired complexion shade-matching technology MatchCo and harnessed it at Bare Minerals to adapt foundations to the specific skin tones of shoppers, are testing custom-made merchandise to varying degrees. The key to customization efforts is for them not to be distraction from a brand’s core business while strengthening ties to consumers and improving loyalty.
“I feel like it’s all going into the bigger picture. Even if it turns out to be a side project, I don’t doubt that I will learn something about the business that will fundamentally bring me to the next level of the journey,” says Lehndorf. “We can reach a different audience with it at the moment just because it’s different and, in that sense, it gets media interest on this side of the world.”
Of course, personalization has to be practical. Loveskin and The Dark Beard Heart Co. don’t allow customers to select the amounts of every ingredient that goes into the personalized products, for instance. “There is a discretion that goes into the proportions. You don’t want too much of an intensive because it can make your skin break out,” says Lehndorf.
A bespoke Loveskin beauty product is $30 New Zealand dollars pricier than its ready-to-wear counterpart. Lehndorf reasons, “It’s a recognition of the time, energy and expertise that goes into creating the products.” She hand blends the customized formulas and ships them to customers within seven to 10 days. “There’s a trade-off around how much time and care is taken to create the product versus fulfilling the customers’ anticipation to receive it. I’m still figuring that part out,” admits Lehndorf.
When initially designing the customization program several years ago, Lehndorf was mired in the minutiae of it and couldn’t make it work. She’s since streamlined the process. “You can think about how you can print the person’s name on the labels in different ways or have labels in different colors. That means you have to buy a lot of different things, and it becomes cost prohibitive,” she explains. “I shelved that idea because I got obsessed with the wrong end of it. I started over and simplified it.”
Lehndorf plans to study Loveskin’s and The Dark Heart Beard Co.’s customization initiatives for several months to determine if adjustments should be made. “I suspect the response to the men’s versus the women’s products might be quite different,” she says. “Women are very interested in customization and, if you tell a man something is good, they’re inclined to believe it’s good.” To increase demand for customized men’s items, The Dark Heart Beard Co. allows shoppers to fashion moisturizers for friends or loved ones. Women may personalize products for husbands or boyfriends.
Beyond the The Dark Heart Beard Co.’s and Loveskin’s websites, Lehndorf envisions taking the customization program on the road to retailers. Nearly four-year-old Loveskin is available at roughly 20 doors across New Zealand, and The Dark Heart Beard Co. has rolled out to around 15 doors in less than a year. Lehndorf says, “Amazon has just come to Australia, and there is a lot of talk about the impact of online shopping on retailers. They need to create something experiential to draw customers in.”