H2O Plus is entering new waters under a new moniker, H2O Plus Beauty.
The 27-year-old brand is revamping its image by introducing 47 newly reformulated stockkeeping units — some of them existing products, some new — with new packaging on its redesigned Web site in the U.S. this month. The re-brand will roll out globally throughout the rest of the year, with Asia to follow this summer as the second market.
The re-branded products will launch in all Ulta Beauty doors and on ulta.com in July. Products with old formulations and packaging will be pulled from all current U.S. distributor shelves — both online and brick-and-mortar — and discontinued in time with this month’s Web site relaunch.
The made-over brand comes on the heels of the appointment in February 2015 of Joy Chen, formerly of Yes To, as president and chief executive officer.
Chen’s goal with the re-branding is to shift perception of the H2O Plus Beauty brand from a marine skin-care line to an overall beauty brand grounded in water-based products, which was the original intent of H2O Plus. Chen saw an opportunity to capitalize on the natural beauty trend by tapping the brand’s heritage.
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“In many ways Cindy [Melk, the company’s founder] was ahead of her time when she created the brand because back then natural wasn’t big and having something water-based wasn’t all that big of an idea,” Chen said. “[Now] there are water-based products everywhere.”
The new formulas are combinations of a water base with proprietary technologies and natural active ingredients like vitamin C. Chen noted that they have been reformulated to “take out the nasty stuff” like phthalates that were found in the brand’s original products.
Chen stressed that the wide assortment of H2O Plus Beauty products was too confusing for its customer. The product assortment has been streamlined down to those that bring “more efficacy and performance” to the line and are broken down into five different categories based on purpose: Infinity, an antiaging range; Waterbright, a brightening range; Oasis, a hydrating range, and Elements, which groups together all the brand’s cleansers and a body care range.
Notable innovations include Elements On the Move Cleansing Stick, a solid cleansing formula, Elements Fresh Powder Exfoliator, a dry exfoliating powder, Infinity Plus Renewing Youth Serum, an anti-aging treatment with hyaluronic acid.
Chen’s first move as ceo was to move the brand’s headquarters from its Chicago-based manufacturing command, to San Francisco. She envisions an entrepreneurial start-up vibe at the office, which is more in line with the customer she is hoping to attract with H2O Plus Beauty.
“We want to go after the younger customer — we call her the cool hunter,” Chen said.
The cool hunter, according to H2O’s quantitative research, is 25-35, shops at stores like Urban Outfitters, attends music festivals, is active on social media and enjoys lifestyle products.
“If she wants to go and exercise I don’t think she’s the type to go on an elliptical machine — she’s the type to do SoulCycle with her friend,” Chen said.
Distribution is being kept tight strategically for now. Chen noted that she has her eyes on other partners, she is taking the relaunch one step at a time.
“There’s so much that is part of this growth plan. [First] it was ‘How do you get the right business model in place?’ [and then] ‘How do you get then right consumer?’ and then it’s ‘What’s the growth plan after that, distribution-wise?’”
Industry sources estimate sales will increase 25 percent in H2O Plus Beauty’s first year at retail.