Morphe is launching 60 shades of foundation.
The brand, said to be one of the largest independent fast-growing businesses, is also launching two primers, $12, 31 shades of concealer, $9, and 15 shades of powder, $12. Morphe declined to comment on how much in sales the launch could bring into the brand, but industry sources estimated that launch of that size could potentially do about $20 million in retail sales for its first year.
The lineup is Morphe’s first move into the complexion category. A year-and-a-half in the making, the foundation, called Fluidity, $18, is a 24-hour long-wear, sweat-proof, transfer-resistant, water-resistant formula that is free of oils, fragrance and parabens. The concealer has a 16-hour long-wear formula.
“Fluidity means its for everybody…it’s inclusive, and that’s what Morphe’s all about,” said Linda Tawil, Morphe founder.
It’s a big launch for Morphe, which is known primarily for its makeup brushes and eye shadow palettes. Morphe executives declined to comment on how quickly the company is growing, but industry sources estimated the business has about $200 million in sales and $80 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
“As we venture into this, we certainly did so very carefully,” said Myles McCormick, chief executive officer of Morphe and its majority owner, Elevate Brandpartners. “In foundations, the stakes are very high. It’s a very personal product at the end of the day, but what was important to us is that we had an approach that was inclusive and that was democratic.”
The shade range for Fluidity is evenly divided into five skin tones, each with 12 shades of foundation. Those foundations come with four undertones. Online, most shades are modeled on people with different ethnicities.
“We just want to make sure you’re finding somebody you identify with as you’re trying to find your shade,” McCormick said.
“The 60 shades was really the manifestation of a lot of work from the consumer perspective to understand the needs of our customer base,” McCormick said. “Our team must have met and tested our product on hundreds of consumers to get down to the nuances that underpin the 60 shades we finally landed on.”
Fluidity will launch on morphe.com, in Morphe stores, and with 600 of Ulta Beauty’s best-performing doors in January, the company said. Eventually, it will roll into all Ulta doors.
Sampling is a large part of the plan. Morphe has produced blister packs so consumers can sample a range of shades easily, and employees at Morphe stores will be ready to give out multiple shade samples, McCormick said.
At Ulta, all of the shades will sit in one bay in the store. “When we presented to them…we made it very clear that we wouldn’t edit down from 60 or down from , so if they wanted to participate, they’d have to take the entire range,” McCormick said. “It was very important to us…that democratic point of view that no one shade range was given more space or more emphasis than the other. They got behind it, they’re enthusiastic about it, there’s additional space dedicated to it.”
Fluidity’s campaign will take over Morphe’s 23 stores, and the products will take over the central space generally occupied by brushes, McCormick said.
Those stores are one of the things that Morphe and Elevate have worked on rolling out together since they partnered in 2017. The group has also focused on the expression of the brand, building out Morphe’s digital presence, and making it easier for global customers to get Morphe products without expensive shipping fees or taxes.
The brand has also had several influencer-collab hits since that partnership, including the Morphe x Jaclyn Hill Vault collection and the James Charles Artistry palette, which has sold out several times.
For Morphe, the influencer community helps to build brand awareness, McCormick said.
Morphe’s founders, Linda and Chris Tawil (a brother and sister team) have created “authentic relationships” with some of beauty’s most influential influencers, McCormick said. “[With] the amount of media and advertising and impressions and average consumer receives these days, the influencers and authentic relationships that Morphe has enabled us to cut through in ways that are challenging for brands that don’t have those partnerships within their business.”
Morphe has a strong affiliate code program with its influencers, where they present Morphe codes to their fans and fans receive a discount. McCormick said it is a driver of web traffic, but more than anything, is a builder of the influencer-brand relationship.
“More so than anything else, it’s a means of which to engage and reward our broader network of influencers and key opinion leaders,” he said.
Morphe is backed by Elevate Brandpartners, which is in turn backed by Boston private-equity firm Summit Partners. Elevate is also an investor in Quay, the Australian eyewear company. Asked about future financial moves, McCormick declined to comment.