Laura Mercier is going bigger on a key category with its latest launch.
The brand is introducing a new foundation, its first complexion launch in five years. Called Real Flawless Weightless Perfecting Foundation, it debuts Tuesday at Sephora, followed by Laura Mercier’s website Wednesday and an ensuing rollout to its full distribution. It is available in 30 shades, and is priced at $48.
The launch gels with the underlying strategy of Orveon, Laura Mercier’s new parent company after the brand was acquired along with two others by Advent International from Shiseido in 2021 (the others were BareMinerals and Buxom) and Orveon was formed. That starts with tapping into complexion — the largest segment of prestige beauty’s biggest category, makeup — where Laura Mercier already has consumer trust.
“It’s the biggest category in the U.S.,” said Pascal Houdayer, Orveon’s chief executive officer. “It’s a category that has broader consumer reach and awareness…complexion is big, is modern and it’s here to stay. And thanks to Laura Mercier and BareMinerals, we have a dominant position in it here in the U.S.”
Houdayer predicted that Laura Mercier would become Orveon’s biggest brand by sales volume in 2023, surpassing BareMinerals. “Laura Mercier has a bigger international footprint than BareMinerals,” he said. “BareMinerals is about 70 percent U.S.-centric, while Laura Mercier is already 55 percent U.S. and 45 percent international. We launched in China, we are extending to India. It’s going globally faster than BareMinerals, so it’s a super important brand for us.”
Next on the docket for Orveon are expansions from the existing brands into skin care, and acquiring skin care brands where appropriate, Houdayer said.
To Houdayer’s point, the brand already has credibility with consumers in the face space. “We’re the top tinted moisturizer brand out there for a reason,” said Diane Kim, the brand’s president.
Executives declined to comment on sales, but industry sources estimate global retail sales to reach $40 million for the foundation’s first year on the market.
The landscape has shifted since Laura Mercier’s last complexion launch five years ago, but Kim contended that the brand’s less-is-more ethos — ”enhancement, not transformation,” she said — was resonating strongly. “Complexion is really the anchor of the brand…and foundation is a segment of complexion where we have a space to offer something interesting and new.”
Real Flawless includes a bevy of skin care ingredients like camelia seed, vitamin E and cacao extract, which Kim said “is tablestakes now for the sophisticated consumer.” Clinical testing also pointed to the product’s abilities to improve hydration for 24 hours, and improve skin texture in six weeks.
“Laura has always been about this skin care plus color performance,” said Kristi Sloe, vice president of global beauty product development. “The way we’re approaching product development now is not only that instant gratification, but the deliverance of overtime performance. It’s pushing the bar on skin-ification, and making sure that we’re delivering on all aspects.”
The brand has also left out silicones to ensure the product wasn’t occlusive. “That’s the piece [Laura Mercier] really wants — she wants to make sure that skin can still breathe,” Sloe said.
Added Tayaba Jafri, Laura Mercier’s global beauty director, “The technology is finally here today, but this type of foundation has been what Laura’s known for when it comes to application and applying makeup. From the beginning, educating the client on how to take a foundation and make it look like real skin was a tough job, but the client is so much more savvy now.”
The marketing initiatives supporting the launch are commensurate with its size. “It’s our biggest global launch of the year around the world for Laura,” Kim said. “It is a full-funnel media plan, influencer marketing partnerships, product seedings around hashtags — both with micro and macro influencers. We’ll also be launching digital sampling.”
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That foray includes pop-ups in different geographies and virtual worlds. “There’s going to be [pop-ups] across key countries across the world, one in New York and one in Los Angeles,” she said. Consumers can also sign up for physical product samples via the brand’s metaverse storefront.