Using 3-D printing, Taste Beauty was able to create a mold for its own beauty version of L.O.L. Surprise in less than a month after the item became a sell-out Christmas success. L.O.L. Surprise was so popular, consumers paid four times the $120 retail on auction sites. Taste hopes for the same marketing frenzy when its beauty version hits the shelves this summer.
That speed to market is a cornerstone of the two-year-old company, known for novelty hits with powerful licenses including Nickelodeon, Nestle, Disney, Universal, Tootsie Roll and General Mills. The major product categories include lip balm, lip gloss, nail polish, nail accessories, bath and body, holiday gifting and hair accessories — mostly for the youth market, but also snapped up by older shoppers nostalgic for brands of their past.
In Taste’s short history, it has scored big with items including Felicia the Flamingo, lip balm packaged in a flamingo and based off the “Bye Felicia” meme; Frenchie the Bulldog balm in a snow globe that sold briskly last year at Sephora, and Glamspin, a fidget-spinner loaded with lip balms created in partnership with BuzzFeed Product Labs. Industry sources feel Taste could achieve annual sales of $50 million within three years.
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That growth is expected to come from not only product innovation, but social exposure of its visual lineup. Two weeks ago, a new Taste Nickelodeon eye shadow palette housed in a cassette-tape inspired case, caught the attention of influencer Jeffree Star. “I am a Nineties baby. I grew up watching Rugrats. I love Nickelodeon,” Star told his 6.1 million YouTube subscribers while demonstrating the 10-eyeshadow kit that retails for $16.90 at Hot Topic. His favorite was a “macaroni and cheese” orange hue.
This year, the company expects high demand for the L.O.L. Surprise launch that will be filled with lip glosses, bath/body items and a collectible surprise. Also, in the pipeline is a floating (even when filled with product) unicorn or flamingo filled with bubble bath already slated for Walmart later this month.
“Pop culture is more relevant in the beauty world than ever,” said Alex Fogelson, cofounder and managing partner of Taste Beauty. “We have the expertise and capabilities to bring these products to life. Our speed to market is second to none.” The use of 3-D printers plays heavily in the compression production cycle. The Glamspin, for example took only four weeks from concept to delivery.
With such rapid growth, Taste is segmenting its business into three sectors, each designed to produce products for specific retailer needs. “We love customizing product for each channel and partner, and this allows us to execute on this more effectively,” said Steph Fogelson, who recently joined Taste as chairman. Previously Fogelson headed up Lotta Luv which was acquired by Li & Fung.
One division is Taste Beauty and incorporates the company’s own line of teen and tween products sold at retail partners such as Amazon, Forever 21 and Five Below. The license products, such as Nickelodeon, Universal, MGA, Nestle and Disney, will fall under the heading of Taste and Friends. These items are primarily sold at large chains including Walmart, Claire’s and Target. Finally, there is Taste Labs, earmarked to be a fast-growing portion of the business. “This is where we can partner with lifestyle, media and e-commerce companies looking to launch their own products,” said Alex Fogelson. “As we look at where retail is heading in the beauty category, we feel we can leverage our manufacturing and retail relationships to bring those companies and their audiences to the retail market.”
There is already a track record established with the success at Sephora of Frenchie the Bulldog and Glamspin. “With the different divisions, we can diversify products for each channel,” Alex Fogelson explained.