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Born Again: H20+

The brand has undergone changes in the past year to hone its commitment on marine science skin care.

One of the few independent players left in skin care, H2O+ has undergone many changes in the past year to hone its commitment on marine science skin care.

“We completed a one-year project telling us who our customer is and what the brand means to them,” said Bill Colli, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “We are also closing stores, building a retail network and establishing flagships in key markets. We just re-launched our Web site and plan to grow internationally.”

Most importantly, is the brand’s goal to delve deeper into marine science skin care (as opposed to sea-derived skin care, their former tagline) to target their core customer.

“We had to step up and own this platform,” said Elizabeth Maul, director of global marketing. She said their research showed the average H2O+ customer is about 31 years old and that new customers are even younger, between 18 and 30 years old. The brand, which generates about $100 million globally, is working on new packaging for March 2012, as well as a new logo. Most recently, two H2O+ lines, Sea Pure and AquaFirm, have been approved to bear the Natural Products Association seal, also proving the firm’s commitment to natural ingredients. “We are working with raw material suppliers that can make [our ingredients] natural,” said Anna Kaplan, the firm’s new senior product development manager.

H2O+, which has entry-level prestige price points with $34 items, has also taken its U.S. store count from 75 down to eight flagships in key urban markets to serve as marketing and advertising vehicles for consumers. In addition to Colli and Kaplan, Deborah Lydic, formerly of Oxygen Development, is now director of R&D, and Bryan Butler, formerly of Estée Lauder, is now chief financial officer. This year H2O+ distribution expanded to include Duane Reade’s Look Boutique and CVS’s Beauty 360 doors, supplementing its retail partnership with Ulta, and will enter Russia, Germany, South Korea and Brazil by mid-2011. The firm is also working on a luxury line for the fourth quarter of 2011 using “coveted ingredients from the ocean” with prices in the $250 to $300 range, one that looks to bring them into new channels.

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