America's second largest retailer, Target, approached Maesa in 2016 with a clear ambition: to capture a share of the fastgrowing premium hair care category with their own exclusive offering.
They had launched exclusive brands before, but hair care is the most competitive and commoditised beauty category of all. They needed something exceptional.
To establish credibility in the premium hair category, Maesa partnered with celebrity stylist Kristin Ess. Known for her 'perfectly imperfect' hair aesthetic and her work for Lucy Hale, Lauren Conrad and Jenna Dewan, she is also a leading stylist on Instagram where half a million followers obsess over her professional tips, product knowledge and engaging personal style. In addition, her distinctive hair photography technique was big on Pinterest.
In January 2017, Kristin Ess Hair launched across 1,900 Target stores and immediately disrupted the category. Here was an in-demand stylist offering a dazzling product line that promised salon quality performance at an accessible price. The beauty media raved.
Kristin's 20 years' experience, striking aesthetic and discerning taste permeated every aspect of the brand - from the striking custom packaging to the formulas that matched her reputation.
Target launched 15 SKUs across four segments: cleansing & conditioning, wet styling, dry styling and finishing and restore at $10 and $14 price points. The line was easy to navigate, offering everything consumers needed to recreate Ess's signature styles. The cutting-edge formulas featured Zip-Up Technology: a proprietary strengthening complex that 'zipped-up' split ends.
Permanent shelf merchandising elevated in-store presence, while online video tutorials educated and inspired consumers. The 'social first' approach used influencers and online media to spread the word, with curated product sets sent out on launch days to create immediate buzz.
Press interviews, exclusive media content and editor events have maintained the exposure and 2017 ended with a first Holiday Gift program. Six specially curated gift sets were presented on a branded end cap providing valuable exposure during peak trading time and featured in numerous media gift guides.
Kristin Ess Hair exceeded all expectations. As one of Target's most successful beauty launches of recent years, it sold five times the original forecast. The launch coverage was unprecedented in hair care and the buzz soon generated sales and glowing reviews.
Many consumers have traded up from mass brands, increasing the category's value, while the exclusive offers have revitalised Target's beauty aisle. As a socially-powered brand, it has resonated strongly with online shoppers, outperforming Target's e-commerce benchmarks.
Within a year, the brand won awards from People Magazine and Refinery29 and its fans have become true advocates, sharing photographs and testimonials on social media to create authentic brand awareness.
Eleven new products will launch in 2018 - doubling shelf presence and adding such innovations as Signature Hair Water, Rose Gold Temporary Tint and the unique Sea Salt Air Dry Spray.
Now a major player in hair care, Kristin Ess Hair has strong brand equity, a growing consumer base and a partnership with one of the world's most forward-thinking retailers. The growth potential knows no limits.