Founded by Linda Stephenson, a veteran of MAC Cosmetics, Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and Mary Kay, the Toronto-based brand that recently entered the department store in the U.S. ditches skin types, day-and-night distinctions and age and gender delineations she believes cause product overkill. Instead, Mèreadesso focuses on solutions such as an All-in-One Moisturizer boasting 16 botanical extracts, eight minerals and enzymes, and more than 20 antioxidants designed to deliver serious skin-care wallops.
“I have been in the industry for so many years and, yet, even I don’t have time to do five, seven or 20 steps in the morning. I’m eating breakfast over the sink and trying to get my kid ready for school. I felt there was a way to create one product that was more like a universal adapter,” said Stephenson. “That is where the concept of the universal moisturizer came in. It really included every ingredient I could have ever wanted.”
Conscious to keep prices entry-level and the selection streamlined, Stephenson created the product range around Mèreadesso’s signature moisturizer with consumers ascending from drugstore to prestige skin care in mind. The brand offers 21 stockkeeping units priced from $10 to $120. Joining the All-in-One Moisturizer, which comes in a tinted version, in its assortment are Face + Neck Cleanser, Beautiful Body Balm, Lip Treats in clear and tinted varieties and a Travel Ease Kit with carry-on-sized resealable sachets.
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“Normally, you start off in a drugstore. I was a Noxzema girl. Then, you get to a certain age, you have more disposable income, and you want to up your game and have products that are more effective. You are ready to spend the money, but then you are faced with a system. There are some people that can’t connect with a system or don’t have time for it,” said Stephenson. “Mèreadesso is really for that busy person who wants something as effective as possible in the least amount of time.”
Similar to Mèreadesso’s formulations, its packaging is intended to be multifunctional. Containers are double-walled and feature metered dosage pumps. “When you have something in a jar, a person is dipping their hands into it and constantly injecting it with bacteria. For me, it was important to take the element of direct interaction with the product out of the equation. The double walls and metered doses stop the dipping and allow for a better preservation system,” explained Stephenson.
Chosen for its elegance and sleekness, the white packaging also projects Mèreadesso’s unisex positioning. An estimated 10 percent of the brand’s purchases are for men, even if women are making those buys. “Our biggest surprise to date has been how well-received it has been by men. We always marketed toward women, and women are still the predominant purchaser, but we have made everything gender-neutral on the web site, and we are inclusive in all our literature. How it happens with men is they will have an issue like rosacea or acne scarring, and they turn to the women in the lives — their wives, sisters, neighbors or coworkers — and say, ‘I have this problem, what should I do?’ Through a recommendation, they click onto the brand.”
After launching online, Mèreadesso rolled out to two Nordstrom stores in Canada last year and followed the Canadian retail distribution up by breaking into five Nordstrom stores Stateside. To help build awareness in the U.S., the brand is sampling with Nordstrom and Birchbox. Last year, Mèreadesso’s web site was its biggest business, but, this year, Stephenson expects the brand’s retail revenues to be on par with its own online share. In a year or two, she plans to expand Mèreadesso by stretching into Europe.
Discussing Mèreadesso’s push into department stores, Stephenson recounted, “I said to the people at Nordstrom, ‘I am connecting to a brand new customer that’s scared of the wall of skin care. They want something simple and efficient.’” Elaborating on retailing beauty brands generally, she added, “It used to be you picked your channel. You were either direct or selling brick-and-mortar. Now, you have to be everywhere. We really spread into all the different channels as best we can, and reach different target audiences through different platforms.”