When Junko Gomi joined legacy skincare and body care brand H2O+ in 2017 as their CEO, she knew she wanted to rejuvenate the brand by first revisiting its origins, to find out more about why Cindy Melk, a young entrepreneur and designer, founded the brand in 1989. “Back then, every cream was white and opaque,” explained Gomi. “Cindy wanted to deliver something more innovative so she created the ‘blue gel’ moisturizer. She was really the first one to do a water gel.”
For the past four years, Gomi has made it her priority to ensure H2O’s bestsellers like Hydration Oasis Refreshing Gel Moisturizer (AKA the blue gel) had a successful transition to a clean formulation. “Our blue gel relaunch was extremely successful, transitioning existing customers to the new clean formula and acquiring new customers as well.”
H2O+ products are now being formulated by a Japanese lab that has more than 90 years of experience making clean products. “The difficulty with clean beauty is there is no clear definition. So, by H2O+ choosing to work with a lab with an impressive legacy of making beautiful products we are confident we are delivering amazingly efficacious and ‘clean’ products. We believe in science and we are always challenging ourselves to innovate.”
One of the ways the brand innovates is by making products in candy-colored hues with playful textures, while managing to keep the formulations clean. “We believe in bringing exciting products to market. We want to be bold in delivering the consumer an exciting experience every time they pick up an H2O+ product,” said Gomi.
That “exciting experiencing” also translates to where consumers experience H2O+ products, which is why the brand partnered with Disney in 2006 to be the official amenity for all Disney resorts, Disney’s first ever “in-room” alliance partner.
Gomi pulled H2O+ from all its retail partners in 2018 to rebuild the brand. Currently, H2O+ is sold through its website and Amazon, but now that the brand is fully revamped, they are approaching high-end department stores and specialty beauty retailers, according to Gomi. They also partnered with HelloAva in 2020, a skincare consultation site where H2O+ products can be purchased as well.
Gomi’s strategy includes staying focused on the brand’s target audience and trying not to be everything to everyone. “It’s not about going after everyone. It’s impossible to get everyone to be our customer. We are all about nurturing our target customer, because we know there is a market for our customer base.” Gomi said the brand’s target customer is a woman in her late 30s, juggling work and kids, leading a busy life. “We are there to fit into our customer’s lifestyle. We try and keep it very simple.”
According to Gomi, the brand’s mission is delivering clean without compromise. “At H2O+ we are committed to delivering clean water-based skincare without compromising on the efficacy and heightened sensorial experience (vibrant clean color palettes, comfortable textures, and light fresh scent). Gokan-ni-Hibiku, loosely translated into the echoing of 5 senses, is what we aim for with every product we develop,” Gomi concluded.
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