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Influencer Casey Holmes Tapped for Physicians Formula’s First Collaboration

The expansion of the Butter franchise is expected to propel Markwins' overall company sales past $1 billion in the near future.

Physicians Formula hopes to spread the success of its Butter franchise in 2019. The Markwins Beauty Brands-owned collection scored a powerful influencer, Casey Holmes, to draw attention to the expansion.

Holmes, who counts a million followers on Instagram and has nearly two million subscribers on YouTube, teamed with Physicians Formula for an exclusive palette that launches today on physicians, followed shortly by and Ulta Beauty stores. The Physicians Formula x Casey Holmes Butter Palette, the first collaboration for the brand, features Butter Bronzer, Butter Blush and Butter Highlighter, plus new category introductions, Butter Lip Cream and Butter Eyeshadow Shades. There is also a Butter Paradise Eau de Toilette to round out the set, which sells for $19.95.

“I use this pun often, but our Butter franchise continues to be our bread and butter,” said Alice Chen, vice president of marketing for Physicians Formula, adding that success created a pent-up demand for the expansion.

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Physicians Formula’s Butter Bronzer has held the top-selling bronzer spot in mass-market doors, according to IRI data, since its launch in 2016. The Butter Bronzer alone racked up sales exceeding $9.8 million in chain stores, according to IRI data for the 52-week period ended December 2, an increase of 61 percent over the previous year. The newest entries are the Butter Eyeshadows and Butter Lip Creams SPF 15, which feature the hallmark butter complex and sensorial scent associated with Butter Bronzers. They joined the bronzers as well as highlighters that launched in 2017 as the company sought to move Butter from niche to mainstream.

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Industry sources estimated Butter could develop into at least a $30 million business. Physicians Formula, fortified by its healthy positioning, has gained new distribution and re-entered Walgreens. Both of those factors will help propel Markwins, which had estimated sales of $538 million, according to WWD Beauty Inc’s Top 100 listing (and said to be growing at a double-digit pace), past the $1 billion sales mark within the next few years. Markwins is a private company and does not disclose sales figures.

Casey Holmes and Physicians Formula's Create
The Physicians Formula x Casey Holmes Butter Palette.

“We truly believe we have a winning formula and have only just begun to scratch its surface. We have a lot of plans to continue to expand Butter,” Chen said. “And given we now have the base for a complete look, it seemed the next logical step was to introduce a full-face regimen with these great Butter formulas in a go-to palette. But we didn’t want to introduce a palette just for a palette’s sake. It had to be created in a way that resonates with our Butter fans, and from a trusted source.”

That’s where Holmes, who has featured non-paid posts about Butter and Physicians Formula products on her social networks, comes into play. “I’m a big fan of the Butter collection and I’ve used it for a while. What I’m excited about is that this gives people to chance to play with the eye shadows and lipsticks in one easy place.” She plans to post using the palette for a wide variety of looks. “This works for everyone from beginners to experts. I can’t wait to see what people create, too.”

Chen said Holmes, associated with her natural and radiant glow makeup looks, is in sync with the healthy positioning of Physicians Formula. “We’ve been great fans of Casey for some time and are always smitten whenever she releases videos mentioning Physicians Formula. She’s been a longtime supporter and organic user of the brand and has helped bring in new Butter fans with her honest and sincere love for the product,” said Chen. Genuine opinions of Butter, she added, have been instrumental in building traction. “We don’t want a fabricated love of our products — if it’s good, it’s good and if it works, it works. Consumers are smart, and they can tell if a partnership is based in truth.”

The use of an influencer is expected to net new customers for Butter. “We know Butter really does engage our existing fans and has also helped bring in new ones. And, of course, this is a business and we obviously want to see its continued success. But we also didn’t want to just shill out product that doesn’t connect with who’s actually using it. It’s easy to just put existing formulas in a pretty box to head-fake a onetime buy. Our intention was to actually create a palette that was user-friendly and worked for our fans.”

Holmes was hands-on in the process. “She sat in our offices and our labs testing, choosing and color-matching the shades in the palette. She worked in tandem with us to name shades and approve designs, down to even the material of the box,” Chen said. Holmes added, “It was so easy because I know the brand so well.”

Chen said it is full-speed-ahead for the Physicians Formula nameplate in 2019, a brand that has always been associated with a healthy positioning. “Beauty brands are becoming lifestyle brands instead of product brands — and the ‘wellness’ trend is no longer a trend, but to be expected in beauty. And while it’s a cliché, it is absolute fact that information is at our fingertips, and beauty fans are educated in what they want — and don’t want — in their products. Physicians Formula is in the great position that we’ve always catered to this wellness need.”

Beyond plans to continue to expand Butter, Chen hinted that the DNA of the brand lends itself to further penetration into skin care. “With the successful skin-care launches in 2018 [including the Rosé All Day Oil-Free Serum, Charcoal Detox Cleansing Stick and the RefreshMint Cucumber and Bamboo Eye De-Puffer], we’re going to continue to build out our skin-care portfolio with plans to have a complete skin regimen,” she said. Among the items slated for 2019 are The Perfect Matcha 3-in-1 Melting Cleansing Balm, Coconut Milk Eye Makeup Remover and Skin Booster Vitamin Shots.

“And, without giving away too much, Physicians Formula pioneered organic beauty, and was the first beauty brand to introduce organic cosmetics to the market. With wellness being the new normal, we want to be even more stringent in our offerings and will soon relaunch our Organic Wear line to fit within organic regulations and standards,” Chen said.