Herbivore: A Marketing Communications Case Study

Updated: Sep 23

Written By: Ishani Agarwal


Part 1: Behind the Brand

1. BRAND OVERVIEW


A skincare and bathing beauty brand, Herbivore was founded by wife & husband, Julia Wills and Alexander Kummerow in 2011 in their Seattle kitchen. They focus on the fact that everything we put on our skin gets absorbed into our bodies, so the finest raw natural materials that the earth has to offer is being used to create the products. Almost every ingredient is an “active” ingredient which results in pure, highly concentrated & effective formulas that are a rarity in the skincare & cosmetics world today.


Daily bathing and skincare rituals should be enjoyable, it’s a way to carve out some much needed ‘me time’ in our hectic routines. Herbivore has created a range of products that are there for a specific therapeutic reason. The packaging is thoughtfully designed making the products look aesthetic and minimal at the same time.


2. PRODUCTS

Herbivore has a range of face and body products including Facial Oils & Serums, Body Polish, Face Mist, Moisturizers, Masks and Soaps. They also stock healing crystals and crystal ornaments. Their products are all natural, infused with the most luxurious oils, crystal powder and recently launched CBD oil infused product range.

PART 2: Marketing Communications


3. REASON FOR CHOOSING THIS BRAND


Crystals have always fascinated me for as long as I can recall. The magical pull the crystal has towards you is simply astonishing, and I am not talking about the small crystals you get in gift shops. Big, natural, geodes which are in their most raw form are the most spectacular ones.

Apart from crystals, the beauty industry truly amazes me. With so many beauty, skincare, makeup brands, how one brand is innovating its product range to differentiate from four several other brands trying to sell the same thing is amazing. The packaging is another aspect which truly fascinated me. I am guilty of buying products just because their packaging was so appealing to me.


Therefore, to combine the two of my interests, I found ‘Herbivore’ which is a skincare brand which also uses crystals in its products!


4. MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS


4.1 Website


Herbivore’s website can be reached at: www.herbivorebotanicals.com

The first thing to notice on the website is the Accessibility Menu which is designed keeping in mind the varied type of audience that might come on the page. It is an exceptional feature & just shows how careful the brand is about being caring not just in terms of skin but also in terms of how they communicate to the world.

This shows the various accessibility features available on the website to enhance the website viewing experience according to your own need. Herbivore also has a separate website for their blogs at: www.herbivorebotanicalsblog.com aptly titled as ‘Naturally Speaking with Herbivore Botanicals’.


This is an interesting read for people who would like to gain more insight into what kind of products Herbivore has, how to use the particular products and what’s interesting is that you will also find articles about Crystals, Herbs, Tarot reading, etc. They have combined everything that is related to their brand image into their blog segment. The sections are titled as: The People, The Ritual, The Garden, The Magic, The Herb, The Being


Seems like a holistic approach to get people who are interested in the brand hooked onto the blog segment thereby increasing brand recall value.

The above image shows how they write blogs on various topics but also integrate their own products into the blogs without feeling too forced. Here it’s a blog about ‘Herbivore Products by Astrological Signs’ which is a simple read and works well if someone is just casually going through the website without having an intention to buy the product. However, a blog like this might induce them to reconsider a product for themselves or as a perfect ‘gift’.


4.2 Instagram

Herbivore’s Instagram feed is what some may call visual goals. With 469k followers and approximately 3000 likes on each post, their Instagram game seems to be going strong.


Apart from just likes and views, all of their posts show a good number of interactive comments such as people asking for more details about the product, will it work for their skin type and how best to use their products. The social media team has made it a point to reply to each comment and it clearly answers the various kinds of questions asked by their Instagram family.


A good social media presence, especially Instagram, is heavily dependent on how well people are interacting with your posts; are they willing to see more of your content and are the followers increasing because your feed looks aesthetic and more and more people would like to see what your brand has to offer.


4.3 Packaging


The packaging for Herbivore played a crucial role in making it a best selling skincare brand at Sephora. A myth that Herbivore broke was that skincare comes in ugly packaging. In fact part of their success is attributed to just how ‘Instagrammable’ their packaging is, and despite a few changes their branding has stayed pretty much the same since their initial Etsy days.


“We really wanted to show the natural ingredients in the product. They are so beautiful, so we packaged them in clear glass so everyone can see the colours. We also wanted to keep the label pretty minimal, again so we could really focus on the product. That was the idea behind it,” Julia explains. This pretty packaging paid off because as Alex explains it meant that people wanted to post pictures of their Herbivore products all over social media. “People would start spreading it all over Pinterest. Then Instagram came around and people wanted to put pictures of Herbivore on Instagram. Being an online brand people couldn’t smell or try it, they just had to look at it and decide if they wanted it.”

Their excellent motto when designing a label has always been “when in doubt cut it out” which really gave way to a minimalistic chic packing which makes the products stand out on Instagram and even in stores like SpaceNk in the UK.


4.4 Store Display


During the Carnaby Christmas light up on 7th November 2019, I visited the Liberty London store. It was packed with people & beautiful merchandise all over but while mindlessly strolling through a section looked aesthetically so gorgeous that it made me stop and really look. There it was, surrounded with real crystals from Rose Quartz to Purple Amethyst to Lapiz to Clear Quartz all displayed on a counter and amongst that were Herbivore’s products displayed like gems.


That imagery of marketing communications through visual appeal will stay in my mind for a very long time because not only it looked appealing and luxurious, at one glance it made the passerby understand that product uses crystals & gemstones for its products, hence the price point is also justified.


5. CONCLUSION


Herbivore started as an Etsy brand selling soaps and now has become the most sought after skincare brand in the US, and has started to catch attention in the UK as well. Their simple motto of focusing on the ingredients of the products; keeping the packing minimalistic to let the product speak for itself, has made them stand apart from their competitors.


Their medium of marketing communications mostly remains online through Instagram as their products are definitely ‘Instagrammable’. They are able to encase a lot of user generated content (UGC) as anyone who buys a Herbivore Botanicals product wants to show it off on their social media, thus giving the brand a lot of UGC. According to research, 65% of customers agree UGC is more interesting than content created by brands. Even though the content created by Herbivore is excellent in terms of making you actually own a product by them, they are still using UGC positively especially on Pinterest.


Therefore Herbivore Botanicals has created its strong brand presence in the skincare industry by its genuinely working product line along with other items that they have started selling like crystals, jewelry and stones. Overall their marketing communications strategy has been simple, focused on showcasing the products as it is, by highlighting its ingredients.


“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic” — Seth Godin


Bibliography


1. Herbivore Botanicals. (2019). Herbivore’s story. [online] Available at: https:// help.herbivorebotanicals.com/hc/en-us/articles/360035072252-Herbivore-s-story [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

2. Capon, L. (2018). How we went from selling soaps on Etsy to becoming a best-selling Sephora skincare brand. [online] Cosmopolitan. Available at: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/beauty-hair/ a20950709/herbivore-botanicals-founders-alex-kummerow-julia-wills/.

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