Ernest Supplies, a natural men’s skin-care brand founded in 2013, is launching an exclusive diffusion line to offer clean beauty to male customers at accessible prices.
The brand, which sells products like shaving sets and eye creams, retails at luxury department stores including Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York and Harvey Nichols. The new diffusion line, called Ernest by Ernest Supplies, includes five new products, including a moisturizer, a face wash and a facial scrub, for around $10 compared to its core brand offerings, which retail for around $28. The line launched at 42 select Target stores and Target.com on Feb. 5.
“We have tried to make it more accessible, designing packaging to help [customers] understand, putting it where they shop and innovating our formulas to make them more price-appropriate,” said Ernest Supplies founder John Cafarelli.
In fashion, diffusion lines are popular and allow for high-end brands to reach a mainstream customer, and they’re catching on in beauty. In May 2018, Dior launched a slightly less expensive diffusion makeup line called Dior Backstage (for example, $40 for foundation compared to $52 for the core brand), and Rodial launched Nip and Fab in the U.S. in July 2011. There have also been some diffusion brands in natural beauty: British organic beauty brand Ila launched Ilapothecary in November 2017, and clean beauty brand Captain Blankenship, which also retails at Target, debuted Sailor by Captain Blankenship, a gender-neutral line in January 2018.
“Captain Blankenship has a lifestyle feeling to it, so Sailor is more focused on being staple grooming products,” said Jana Blankenship, founder and CEO of Captain Blankenship. “Clean beauty is growing from basic products like serums to [more adventurous] butt masks, so now the industry is looking for any gaps like men’s and unisex.”
The motivation behind both Sailor and Ernest by Ernest Supplies was to allow customers the ability to afford the brand’s products, and Ernest Supplies, in particular, wants to meet the younger customers through the line. Currently, 60 percent of Ernest Supplies customers are between 25 and 35 years old, but the brand hopes that it will reach more 25-year-olds, who are developing their grooming routine as adults and still shop at mass retail stores.
“We may have been early in some ways [on natural skin care], because things have come together in terms of wellness and self-care,” said Cafarelli. “This [diffusion line] opportunity is a second bite at the apple with our message to an audience that is much broader.”
In addition to making the product more wallet-friendly, the brand also redesigned its packaging to instruct this new consumer on how to use the products. The brand found that younger customers gravitate to the pouch product design, while older customers gravitated to the bottles, so it opted to keep the pouch but feature more information. For example, it placed ingredients (like caffeine and fruit enzymes) and product purpose (a “youthful appearance”) front and center.
“When you’re at Neiman Marcus, you have a well-trained salesperson who can educate you, but we needed to speak to our customers in a straightforward way,” said Cafarelli.
Going forward, the brand is looking through its current roster of 150 unpaid influencers to deepen its relationship with five influencers. Its focus is on long-term growth and deeper education, Cafarelli said. Although there is no definitive timeline for this campaign, the idea is to work with micro-influencers (with followings of 10,000 to 15,000) to detail for their respective audiences why they should care for their face, how certain products work and why ingredients are important.
“We thought there was a huge opportunity to shift the narrative from aesthetics to more about a health and wellness routine. People are honing in on the benefits of living a wellness lifestyle, and we want to [lean into] that,” said Cafarelli.