Clarisonic is upping its intelligence quotient.
This story first appeared in the April 25, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Beginning on May 15, the brand credited with reigniting the beauty tools category and helping spark a device revolution will introduce its smartest implement to date, Smart Profile.
“We are in the world of electronics and that world moves very quickly and demands innovation,” said Carol Hamilton, president, L’Oréal luxury products division. Hamilton said that the Clarisonic brand has shown between 75 and 100 percent growth, year-on-year, since its launch in 2004. “We know there’s competition coming but we are up for that.”
Smart Profile, which will first roll out to 5,000 dermatologist offices next month before hitting retail distribution in early 2015, is the first of Clarisonic’s seven existing iterations to feature the product’s microchip in the brush head rather than the handle (a technology called radio-frequency identification, or RFID) allowing it to better tailor itself to user’s skin needs and track usage. “The chip in the brush head allows us to create all kinds of protocols for different needs,” said Dr. Robb Akridge, cofounder, senior vice president and global general manager of Clarisonic. “For one, we enhanced the turbo button: If you now are cleaning the area around the nose [or another congested spot] the motor picks up 9 percent more and cleans out that area a little bit more.”
Like the first Clarisonic brush, which was launched at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in Philadelphia in 2004, the plan is to begin at professional distribution before retail to first serve consumers via the medical community.
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“We want to give the latest innovation to the professional channel,” said Hamilton.
Other features of the $265 device include a redesigned user interface with a preprogrammed T-Timer (for body and face), extended battery life (36 minutes versus 24 minutes) and a light that signals when to replace the brush head. Each Smart Profile, which is compatible with every brush head including the pedicure brushes, comes with a drying stand as well as a Smart Brush Head and a Turbo Massage Body Brush, and a magnetic USB charger.
“Clarisonic is among the top beauty device brands at QVC,” said Claudia Lucas, the beauty director at QVC. “The brand also offers our most successful replenishment business with its brush head offerings. To make it easy for our customers, we offer an auto delivery plan for these items. Once signed up, the customer does not need to remember to order brush heads as they will automatically arrive every six months while she remains in the plan.”
Four years in the making, Clarisonic’s newest model was inspired by the brand’s recent pollution study, which revealed that particulate matter, a form of air pollution, is made up of tiny particles of solid and liquid matter, that are up to 20 percent smaller than the size of pores. “Inside is more polluted than outside air,” said Akridge, adding that Smart Profile removes makeup 11 times better than hands alone (previous Clarisonic versions only boasted 6 percent more efficiency). “Pollution mixes with the oils on your skin and you never get it off unless you are using sonic technology.”
Although the brand would not talk numbers, industry sources believe the Smart Profile could generate $10 million in first-year retail sales in the U.S.
“Clarisonic has ranked in the top three skin-care brands in every market it’s been launched, which only proves the viability of the category,” said Hamilton, adding that the brand’s retail footprint includes about 5,000 points of distribution and more than 30 countries.
When asked about the future of Clarisonic, Akridge said, “It will be about consumer interaction. I can envision a brush that gives information about how effective a cleanser is.”