Business Categories Reports Podcasts Events Awards Webinars
Contact My Account About

Product Strategies For Unlocking Sustainable Growth

Published June 18, 2023
Published June 18, 2023
Atelier by Voyant Beauty

There is no turning back—everything moves faster, the stakes are higher, and just as consumers don’t shop for beauty like they did in the past, investors, whether growth or strategic, aren’t investing in or acquiring beauty brands like they did in the past either.

The future remains bright for beauty even as inflation pushes shoppers to pull back on discretionary spending in the category. The resiliency has created an incredibly dynamic and competitive landscape, with the billion-dollar exits of indie beauty darlings to strategic buyers fueling the dreams of entrepreneurs and investors looking to capture their piece of the $571 billion global beauty pie. The consumer's seemingly insatiable desire for newness has created a flywheel for founders with big ambitions, but tightening capital markets and stiff competition have changed the dealmaking game for emerging brands.

Atelier by Voyant Beauty was launched in late 2022 to meet the unique needs of emerging, fast-growth independent beauty brands by taking into consideration early-stage and growth investor inputs to build out a suite of services and an approach that delivers unique innovation and operational value for the brand founder(s) and the investors who are funding them.

Lorne Lucree, Chief Innovation Officer and Head of Atelier by Voyant Beauty, elaborates on current market conditions, saying, “Ask any seasoned beauty investor today, and they are focused on three things: differentiated value propositions, hero products that evidence product efficacy, and the operational capacity to scale profitably. Achieve these, and a compelling Customer Lifetime Value metric will follow.”

Once you secure distribution with a retail partner, newness becomes an important lever to remain relevant and drive growth, but speed to market is irrelevant if the product doesn’t perform, isn’t unique to the brand, and isn’t sticky enough to be consistently repurchased or profitable at scale. The tide has turned from a constant onslaught of newness to a more thoughtful and strategic approach to product launches.

Product Efficacy Trumps Slick Branding

Establishing brand authority and earning consumer trust is crucial to success in an increasingly crowded beauty market. Slick branding and marketing might convert a sale once, but formula performance and efficacy keep customers coming back. The acquisition cost of a customer is no longer the magic metric—it’s the lifetime value of a customer that is critical for investors. To deliver on this, gaining traction, scale, and having longevity all come down to the product.

Consumers are smarter and have more access to information than ever before. It’s one thing to say your product delivers results, it's quite another thing to have the data to prove it. Scientific innovation, claims substantiation, and ingredient transparency become increasingly important as brands compete for credibility and authenticity among the cacophony of marketing noise. If a product doesn’t perform, there will be no clinical or panel testing to support it.

Developing cutting-edge, high-performance formulas requires access that is usually beyond the reach of most emerging brands. Atelier by Voyant Beauty utilizes a network of the most innovative raw-material suppliers to quickly help brands access the latest high-performance technology perfect for their formulation. Sometimes this involves access to technology that hasn’t been launched, enabling a brand to be first to market. Other times it involves enabling a brand to develop custom, owned technology with a raw material supplier to secure a patented, exclusive claim that has the ability to create excitement in the market and boost the valuation of the business.

For final formula efficacy testing, Atelier by Voyant Beauty also offers use of their salon testing facilities in the physical Atelier located in Los Angeles, CA. Here, brands can test their haircare formulations in a real salon setting to refine formulas and work the R&D team on-site.

Atelier by Voyant Beauty also holds real-time innovation as a guiding principle, believing that exciting innovation isn’t communicated through staid twice-a-year themed proactive innovation capsules. They get in the trenches with brands, providing real-time innovation insights, whether its new data resources, talent, or visibility to shows inside and outside the beauty space as they are launching or occuring, and passing along these learnings to brands in real time to decide how they’d like to act on these discoveries.

“We feel the stickiest products that become heroes are the perfect marriage of science and art, and the art is how a brand weaves data into their product concepting and formulation."
By Lorne Lucree, Chief Innovation Officer + Head, Atelier by Voyant Beauty

From Niche Appeal to Turbo-Charged Growth

Atelier by Voyant Beauty knows a high-performing product is just that—high performing. What makes it sticky is the consumer insight(s) that power it.

Lucree elaborates on this, saying, “We feel the stickiest products that become heroes are the perfect marriage of science and art, and the art is how a brand weaves data into their product concepting and formulation. Because of this we have built out the unique capability to power our Brand Partners’ decisions with a suite of data-driven resources to refine their product concept and ensure it is uniquely true to their brand. This could be by assisting in AI-powered benchmark selection and optimization, choosing marketing ingredients with predicted longevity of popularity in the market, or truly understanding their social presence to make more data-driven decisions versus using just intuition.”

“We share an intense curiosity and passion for beauty, wellness, and consumer trends with our Brand Partners, and this ends up becoming the differentiator between being just an outsourced contract manufacturer, and a true innovation thought partner,” Lucree says.

Operational Innovation and the Benefits of Scale

Once a brand gains traction, there is often an inflection point followed by the painful realization that you've outgrown current vendors. Let's face it—changing manufacturing partners can be a nightmare that is exacerbated the larger your business gets. Access to a manufacturing scale that can easily flex with a supplier network and leverage to navigate supply chain disruptions effectively has proven to be a competitive edge. At this stage of growth, the stakes are often higher. Emerging brands share shelf space with big beauty brands while fending off the competition of buzzy new start-ups. Brands want and need to feel like their beauty and skincare contract manufacturing partner understands their business and operates as an extension of their team.

Lucree shares how Atelier by Voyant is different. "We are not an accelerator—that would imply servicing only one facet of growth: speed to market. Our proprietary research identified all the friction points indie brands face during periods of hypergrowth, and our model was built to address all of these, whether they be formulation, manufacturing, or contractual/terms related. This is how we have uniquely positioned ourselves as a formulation and manufacturing growth partner as well as a de facto operating partner to the investors in this space."

While many manufacturers promote their blue-sky innovation capabilities, Atelier by Voyant Beauty focuses on operational innovation and its ability to access the capabilities of the largest beauty manufacturer in North America. Voyant Beauty has over 3 billion units of capacity, 5 million square feet of space across 13 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada, and Europe, 270 filling lines, and 4,000 employees. The scale means that quality processes have been audited by much larger beauty and personal care companies, which will be incredibly valuable with the new MoCRA regulations right around the corner.

Atelier provides a more innovative option for brands with a unique manufacturing scale, ranging from 5K units to 5MM+ units. While other beauty and skincare contract manufacturers can produce 5 million units, it will most likely take them weeks. Voyant can do those types of runs in days, allowing the capacity to scale quickly for frictionless growth.

Avoid the nightmare of having to change contract manufacturing partners in the future. Atelier by Voyant provides access to multiple formulation and filling capabilities under one roof for a streamlined supplier portfolio, resulting in cost improvements and optimization that help support a brand's critical path to profitability. A scaled, high-quality manufacturing partner on your roster can be very attractive to investors during the due-diligence process.