As women seek fit bodies, beauty brands are seizing opportunities to encourage fit faces.
Beauty and health are increasingly merging, landing beauty products on the shelves at a growing number of yoga studios, gyms, Pilates, barre and cycling concepts. While the exercise locations might never compare to the impacts a Target or Sephora can have on beauty businesses, they provide brands repeated exposure before an audience hungry for self-improvement that has money to spend on classes, memberships and, with a little push, skin care and makeup.
“The person who is interested in wellness is probably looking at it holistically. They want to look good, and they want to feel good,” said Physique 57 vice president of marketing Jennifer Billet, who held positions at L’Oréal Paris, Coty and Avon prior to joining the expanding barre studio company. “There are synergies between our brand and brands that have similar qualities to us: luxury, high-end brands.”
Workout formats like Physique 57 don’t have sprawling retail areas and much of the space they do have is dedicated to apparel and exercise equipment, but beauty brands that don’t generally occupy too much room have squeezed in, especially with exercise-oriented items. Towelette-focused beauty brand Herban Essentials has hit Physique 57’s retail shelves, and brands such as EO Products, DoTerra, One Love Organics, Dr. Hauschka, Sweat Cosmetics and Yuni Beauty, which was designed with yoga in mind, have entered yoga studios.
New York retailer and brand CAP Beauty sells The CAPitivator Energy Mist at Sky Ting Yoga in Manhattan’s Chinatown and The Anointing Oil at Ici Self-Care in Paris, a yoga studio paired with a shop filled with green beauty brands, including Shiva Rose, Captain Blankenship, African Botanics and Ayurveda Apothecary. CAP Beauty has also assembled the $125 gift box Le Cap Sportif with products intended for consumers involved in athletic pursuits: Sun Potion Cordyceps, LivWell Vanilla Protein Powder, Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath, Raw Elements Sunscreen and EiR Sport Balm.
“A yoga studio is a pretty good place to look if you are interested in naturals. It is probably a place that is prioritizing that and having products in those types of locations reiterates that beauty products can be part of a wellness routine and not just a beauty routine,” said CAP Beauty cofounder Cindy DiPrima. “You are probably not going to get the widest range of products and the most education there, but, for us, having more people access natural products is a great thing.”
Events, promotional products and service tie-ins offer beauty brands other ways to associate with studios. Physique 57 developed the $36 Sweat & Soothe Fitness Kit with beauty brand Lather containing bath salts and gel to ease muscles, a stretch band and a month of unlimited online workouts, partnered with Blushington on a small beauty bar for its Los Angeles location, and put on mini makeover sessions with Dior Beauty and Laura Mercier. The upscale fitness club chain Equinox typically holds five to six trunk shows annually spotlighting beauty lines.
Sweat Cosmetics, a brand aimed at active women, has thrown events at CorePower Yoga. Cofounder and chief executive officer Courtney Jones Louks viewed them as vehicles to lift brand recognition. “At a lot of the events, women haven’t heard of Sweat, but everyone is really enjoying it,” she said. “We have had a really good reaction from women at CorePower. Those classes can get hot and sweaty, and I’ve been inside them with our product on, and my makeup stays on. After putting it to the test, it really does work.”
Skin-care brand Skin Authority is experimenting with a new display format to get in front of gym goers by rolling out kiosks to 15 Total Women Gym + Spa locations. Although gyms aren’t necessarily where consumers are accustomed to finding skin-care products, Skin Authority chief executive officer and owner Celeste Hilling noted they are open to recommendations in a gym environment. “It is a place where they trust the advice they are getting. They trust their class instructor or personal trainer who has helped them get in shape, and they are great at opening that door and that’s how we have created awareness,” she said.
Certainly, if a brand or product seems alien at fitness facility, it’s not going to resonate with potential customers patronizing a gym. Sarah Garland, senior manager of planning for the Equinox spa, hunts for skin-care brands that deliver real results. Among the brands at Equinox are Caudalie, Skinceuticals, Rodial, EmerginC and Elemis. “We use high-performance products just like our clients have high-performance lifestyles,” she said. “We use things that multitask and have highly effective ingredients with research and science behind them. We don’t just have products that smell good.”
For busy people on the go at a gym, impulse items retail better than complicated merchandise requiring in-depth explanation. “It’s not like someone in Sephora doing half-hour shopping,” said Hilling. “You have to do sound-bite selling. What we find do really well are brightening products, acne products and, definitely, antiaging moisturizers and cleansers. It’s about simple, basic steps.” Jones Louks suggested items easy to pick up for women heading to or from classes are best. She elaborated, “Let’s say you went to SoulCycle, you ended class and you forgot your makeup and see on the counter makeup just for you, I think you’d be inclined to it,” she said. Sweat Cosmetics sells at select The Bay Club and Orangetheory Fitness locations.
Gyms and fitness facilities are tougher nuts to crack for beauty sales than beauty specialty retailers, but they have the bonus of not competing with beauty specialty retailers brands may already be in and building brand cachet that can have a halo effect over retailers. “Yoga studios and fitness studios are a little slower for beauty and very new in terms of being a space [for beauty distribution,]” said Yuni Beauty cofounder and ceo Emmanuel Rey. “Of course, it’s a white space, and there is a lot to be done. It’s where the audience is, so it’s great to be there, and you do get the endorsements of teachers.” He highlighted that Yuni Beauty is achieving excellent conversion rates at YogaWorks.
Hilling acknowledged chasing beauty sales at gyms and fitness locations is challenging, particularly for emerging independent brands with limited budgets. However, she stressed the payoff can be worth it. “There is a little bit of evangelism involved here and that evangelism isn’t cheap. As a brand, you have to recognize that is part of the process, and that may or may not be for you. You have to be a brand that’s willing to engage on the consumer level,” said Hilling, adding people visiting gyms “shop in traditional retail. If you can connect with someone there, they are going to go to your web site or a store that carries your brand.”
To see if their products will perform well or not, beauty brands may have greater shots at breaking into fitness concepts as marquee concepts spread units and turn their attention to enhancing retail components to drive incremental income. “When we first started retail, we were was like, ‘Oh, we have space, let’s sell a few things.’ Now, we think about how we lay it out and make the most use the space that is not the studio space,” said Billet of Physique 57. “For example, the retail area in our newest studio is so different. It is super bright and well laid out. We now have mirrors on the wall and have put slats in to display things better, and we have worked with experts to lay things out.”
It’s a decent bet beauty brands will be clamoring to get into these updated retail spaces at fitness concepts and gyms to establish themselves with the fitness buffs that frequent them. “Our members are well-educated and relatively affluent. They are an urban clientele, but not all of them. We do have suburban markets. These are people who are invested in living their best lives and putting their best foot forward. They are invested in keeping themselves in good shape,” said Garland. “Our vendors are able to tap into the people in the locations who are, in general, highly coveted and see them every day.”