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St. Tropez Embraces Social Media, Prepares to Unveil Thea, the Chat Bot

Self-tan brand aims to educate, help consumers become their own tanning experts.

LONDON — St. Tropez is innovating — and getting ever more social — as it continues to build market share in the U.S. and worldwide.

The self-tan brand, which is headquartered and developed in the U.K., will in July launch its first tanning bot, a “glowfessional” called Thea whose job is to dole out advice over Facebook using augmented reality technology.

St. Tropez said it’s the first self-tan brand to use the bot, which will allow users to “try on” their perfect tan by sharing a selfie with Thea. The bot will be able to demonstrate, via Facebook Messenger, what any given shade will look like on the customer’s skin.

In an interview, Jacqueline Burchell, svp, marketing and product development at St. Tropez’s parent PZ Cussons Beauty, said the company is “thinking broadly” in terms of innovation and stepping up its social media engagement with the aim of educating, informing and entertaining.

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“We realize our customers are on these channels and, working with independent experts, we have recently created a series of Facebook Live chats called Studio Glow that allows us to reach a wider audience, which has garnered great results to date,” said Burchell.

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She was discussing the innovations shortly before St. Tropez scooped a prize for its Gradual Tan Tinted Everyday Body Lotion at the CEW U.K. 2017 Beauty Awards here.

The brand has since added to its Gradual Tan range with the launch of Gradual Tan Plus Sculpt & Glow lotion and Gradual Tan Plus Luminous Veil, both of which are multibenefit products that aim to tone, firm, moisturize and add a glow to skin.

St. Tropez gradual tan plus duo
The St. Tropez gradual tan plus duo. Courtesy Photo

For the Facebook Live chat series, St. Tropez is working with experts including the Australian beauty blogger Natasha “Tash” Oakley, who has more than 2 million followers, and the health and fitness blogger, Stephanie Elswood.

On Thursday, June 29, Hello! Magazine’s U.K. beauty editor, Nadine Baggott tackled common tanning myths as part of the summer-long, six-episode series on Facebook.

The brand said the series has so far exceeded industry benchmarks, reaching more than 3 million users, and growing its follower base 217 percent.

The summer series kicked off with the launch of the Self Tan Express Bronzing Face Sheet Mask, one of its latest innovations that fuses trends in South Korean skin care with self tan.

The mask aims to give an ultra-hydrating dewy glow, even out skin tone and develop a long-lasting golden tan. It launched exclusively at Boots stores, online and at key salons.

According to St. Tropez, one mask sells every two minutes in the U.K., while in the U.S., the sheet mask sold out on in less than 24 hours following its launch earlier this month. In the U.S., it is also sold at Ulta and on QVC.

express sheet mask St. Tropez
The express sheet mask by St. Tropez. Courtesy Photo

The mask, a mix of tanning serum and hyaluronic acid, is applied to dry skin, and can be left on for five, 10 or 15 minutes. After discarding the mask, the user massages the excess serum around the eyes and hairline and into the neck.

There is a patent pending in the U.K. for the mask, which is priced at 15 pounds, or $19, for a pack of two.

Burchell said the Express range is one of St. Tropez’s best-selling franchises and, to wit, the brand has recently added a bronzing mist that will be showcased backstage during London Fashion Week in September.

St. Tropez express mist
The St. Tropez express mist. Courtesy Photo

St. Tropez said it continues to lead the self-tan market, with double-digit growth in the U.S. and globally. St. Tropez said it remains the number-one brand in terms of value.

The brand continues to lead in key European markets, accounting for more than 40 percent of the self-tan market in Sweden. Other key markets for the brand include Norway, Ireland, France, Germany and Australia.