Pinrose was an early player in the fragrance space online — and like all the direct-to-consumer brands that have come before it, has realized that a retail presence is essential to scaling up.
But even more powerful, Pinrose cofounders Erika Shumate and Christine Luby soon learned, is an in-store experience that welds key elements of the dotcom experience they built at pinrose.com. This largely includes personalization via an online quiz used to determine a customer’s fragrance personality so the brand can best suggest scents they will like.
A pilot program with Sephora last spring revealed that 10 stores with iPads containing a version of this quiz yielded more sales — twice as many as the doors without corresponding Pinrose iPads.
“What we found was the number of quizzes taken always correlated to more sales….We’re trying to…really innovate in helping the customer find the fragrance that she will like,” Shumate said.
In 2014, Pinrose was among the first to introduce a fragrance brand that lived solely online, joining Commodity Goods which came a year prior. Shumate and Luby’s point of differentiation was clear: they wanted to target Millennials with kitschy names, an online quiz and a $55 price tag — not compete in the increasingly crowded artisanal fragrance space.
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The eau de parfums, which have names like “Garden Gangster,” “Pillowtalk Poet” and “Cuddle Punk,” initially launched at pinrose.com, and within a year were picked up by Nordstrom. It was an ambitious partnership for a one-year-old e-commerce brand, with the retailer immediately putting Pinrose in every single one of its doors. Today, Pinrose still has a presence at Nordstrom, but Shumate and Luby realized that more meaningful sales were coming from Sephora, which they entered in 2016.
The brand is now sold at 50 Sephora doors and will roll out to another 150 to 180 in September. The brand just entered Sephora in Canada and is looking at retail opportunities in Europe and Korea for later this year. The brand is on track to do $5 million in sales this year, including increased distribution.
“Our site is always going to be the main brand hub for Pinrose. The average time on site is 10 minutes…[with] people coming to learn about the world of Pinrose and engage with the brand,” Shumate said. “When we look at 2017 in terms of growth, our key focus is to grow with Sephora. It’s where our customer is.”
But to scale in retail meant Pinrose had to quickly learn the nuances involved with selling a brand online and in-store.
This started with packaging, according to Luby. She said adapting the brand for brick and mortar meant creating more visually driven product, because in store, the bottle is the selling point. Previously, a more “utilitarian” bottle (comparable to fragrances of the drugstore variety) came in beautiful secondary packaging to give the consumer an elevated “unboxing” experience when they received their package in the mail.
Starting next month, all Pinrose scents carried at Sephora will come in brightly colored, faceted glass bottles – perfectly timed to the rollout of two new scents exclusive to the retailer. Sun Saint and Lil’ Dipper will hit Sephora.com on April 4 and stores on April 28. Fragrances are also increasing from 30-ml. to 50-ml. sizes and will see a $10 price bump to $65.