Bliss is getting a new lease on life yet again. Current owner L Catterton is reinventing the skin-focused, spa-inspired beauty brand as a whimsical mass market skin-care line aimed at Millennials.
All existing Bliss products are being phased out in favor of a completely reformulated line with new packaging, distribution and price structure.
The new Bliss is focused on trend-driven product innovation designed for Instagram. New prices are more than 50 percent less than the original line, and distribution will be sharply focused on the mass market.
Founded as a spa in New York’s SoHo by serial entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore, Bliss has gone through several iterations and owners since its early days in the mid-Nineties, including stints with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Starwood Resorts and Steiner Leisure. L Catterton purchased the brand as part of its 2015 acquisition of Steiner Leisure. By then, the sassy product line known for its signature sky blue and lemon yellow color scheme and tongue-in-cheek items like the Fatgirlslim cellulite cream had lost its way. Bliss’ heritage is as a young brand targeted at young consumers — but with a cluttered product lineup and a widespread distribution ranging from Kohl’s to gym bathrooms and hotels to Nordstrom, the brand hasn’t fostered any real relevance with the Millennial generation.
“The needs of the 18- to 34-year-old girl are different than they were 20 years ago,” said Meri Baregamian, chief executive officer of Bliss. “She [now] wants accessibility and experiential, efficacious products without paying an arm and a leg, and that’s what we’re going to offer her.”
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Referring to the brand’s most recent primary channels of distribution — mainly Kohl’s — Baregamian said, “She cross-shops across various channels, and we definitely know she is not shopping in those destinations.”
Baregamian joined the company in 2016, shortly after L Catterton acquired Steiner Leisure, coming over from Walgreens Boots Alliance, where she ran the North American business for Soap & Glory, another Kilgore ideation that she sold to the drug chain.
One of the first things Baregamian did as ceo of Bliss was separate the product side of the business from the spa chain — there are 14 Bliss spas across the country, including three in Manhattan — moving the product headquarters to Los Angeles and the spa headquarters to Miami.
The new Bliss products — all 39 of them — will roll out to all Target and Ulta doors and online in March after launching on blissworld.com on February 27. Prices will range from $10 to $30. Most are facial skin care, with a heavy emphasis on masks and cleansers, but there is body care as well.
“The consumer’s biggest complaint was that our products were overpriced,” Baregamian said. “Especially when it comes to fun experimental skin care. When you look at what is happening across the industry — you know, ColourPop going into Sephora — the girls today don’t want to spend an arm and a leg if they don’t have to. Particularly that younger consumer, they want the product, but she doesn’t want to overpay.”
Baregamian told WWD she was able to lower prices because the brand hadn’t updated any of its manufacturing practices or switched ingredient suppliers in its more than 20 years in business. She is focused on using green technology, like solar-powered energy, where she can.
Several products are revamped versions of cult favorites, such as the Lemon and Sage Body Butter, Triple Oxygen Mask, Poetic Wax and Fab Foaming Cleanser, but formulated without microbeads, parabens, phthalates and sodium lauryl sulfates, along with other ingredients many Millennial consumers are wary of. Baregamian said the entire new line is free from such controversial ingredients.
The rest of the product assortment is new and feature playful textures and consistencies, like the Marshmallow Mask, Patrol Clay Soufflé Mask and Makeup Melt Jelly Cleanser.
Baregamian also has plans to revamp the spa business, though that is happening at a slower pace. Beginning in March, the old Bliss products will be swapped out for the new Bliss items, and any products from third-party vendors that are not cruelty-free will be phased out by 2019.