The Walgreens Boots Alliance has big plans to build brand awareness for No7 in the U.S. market.
It starts with skin care. No7, the skin-care and cosmetics line that is exclusive to Boots pharmacies in the U.K., is unleashing this week a new serum and digital ad campaign in the U.S. market. The product, Lift and Luminate Triple Action serum, which was along with the campaign was introduced in the U.K. last year, is No7’s biggest launch here for this year. The campaign, called Ready for More, is fronted by the 53-year-old ballerina Alessandra Ferri, who came out of retirement in 2013 to continue dancing professionally.
“She’s the encapsulation of what we think this product is,” said Fred Arbel, category director for skin care for Walgreens Boots Alliance in the Americas. “It’s her ability to say, ‘There is more ahead of me than past me,’ is something that really resonates with our age target [for this launch].”
“They obviously saw a woman who was willing to not buy into the social belief that you have to give up your life because you’re not 35,” said Ferri. “Of course we all want to look our best at any age, but it’s fine to live in the present of who you are in the moment.”
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Ferri’s approach is a laissez-faire attitude toward antiaging, and it’s one that No7 has adopted with its new brand direction strategy, called Ready. Ready is meant to be more of a mind-set that inspires product development and marketing — it is the idea that beauty is more about empowering women to feel their best rather than looking physically attractive.
The Ready for More campaign featuring Ferri launched online in the U.S. on Jan. 11.
The Lift and Luminate serum is an antiaging product targeted at women around the age of 45, who are ready to start adding more powerful antiaging products into their routines. Its formulation, composed of a Matrixyl 3000 Plus, a proprietary antiwrinkle peptide technology; hyaluronic acid; hibiscus extract and Vitamin C, is backed by three clinical claims that tout reduction of wrinkles, improved elasticity and a more even tone.
No7 scientists conducted three clinical trials — a first for the brand, according to Dr. Mike Bell, the skin-care scientific adviser for Boots in the U.K. Previously, the Lift and Luminate serum existed as a pair of two products for day and night, and it focused on one clinical benefit. “A mass consumer is concerned about not using too many products — it’s a cost thing,” said Bell. “They need to understand what they’re getting for their money.”
After a soft launch in December with Walgreens.com, the serum, priced at $33.99, will enter more than 1,800 Target doors starting Jan.15, plus all Ulta doors, as well as target.com and ulta.com, in Feburary. It is already in 1,800 Walgreens doors. Industry sources estimate the serum could do $2 million to $3 million in U.S. retail sales within its first year on shelves.
Launching the Lift and Luminate serum is part of a larger challenge for the Walgreens Boots Alliance, which aims to further ingrain itself in the minds of U.S. customers.
“This is our biggest skin-care launch within our hero franchises of serums, and it’s going to lead the way for more news to come,” said Lyle Tick, managing director for U.S. retail for the Walgreens Boots Alliance.
“We’re just beginning the story of the brand here,” said Arbel, who noted that the strategy here is to push serums, a category No7 is known well for in the U.K. “The serum category is what we want to own in the U.S. We still think there’s a huge potential — only 30 percent of antiaging consumers use serum on a regular basis.”
“Consumers don’t quite understand the role of a serum,” said Bell. “There’s an education piece for us to do as well…increasing a digital platform so we can explain ingredients, how it works [and] the proof behind the serums.
As mass skin-care launches become more sophisticated — think Target’s introduction of Peach & Lily, Neutrogena’s LED Light Therapy Acne Mask and Garnier’s SkinActive Micellar Water — Tick thinks No7 is positioned to satisfy a consumer need for more masstige skin-care products. “In the U.K. in boots, we’ve shown the success of that [masstige] model,” said Tick. “What we could see potentially is skin care leaning that way in the U.S. Brands like No7 bring an efficacy that you might expect in the prestige category and make it accessible to folks [at mass].”
Makeup is the next challenge for No7 in the U.S. “We have a two-winged plane in the U.K.,” said Tick. “Particularly here, we’re known for skin care. We’re focusing on building the [makeup] business aggressively [here].”
Plans start with rolling the cosmetics line out in February to 1,000 Ulta doors, up from the 300 they are in. This month, No7 is rolling out its Virtual Match Made App, which allows customers to shade-match in-store, without the help of a beauty adviser.