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Industry Voices: Marketing in Uncertain Times with Peace Out Skincare

The terms “skinfluencer” and “maskne” are probably unfamiliar to most people, but they are key words in the lexicon of the rapidly converging worlds of social video and pandemic-related skin care. We recently spoke with Junior Pence, CMO and creative director of Peace Out Skincare, about its marketing efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, including the viral TikTok video that propelled the company to new levels of success.

Peace Out Skincare is best known for its Acne Dot patches and, more recently, through a viral TikTok video that was viewed more than 12 million times and led to sales of 15,000 units of pore strips in a single day. Tell us about that TikTok video.

It was really incredible. One of the TikTok “skinfluencers” we’d been working with, Hyram (@skincarebyhyram), posted a video using our pore strip, and all of a sudden our Shopify went crazy. This product that had always been a success for us was now just blowing up, and at first we didn’t know where the demand was coming from. Then we started getting texts that Hyram had posted the video, so we got very excited about it. It’s amazing how TikTok really is the next generation for beauty and skin care.

How has social video stacked up against the other advertising channels that you use?

Social video, especially formats like TikTok and IGTV, has been really important in driving our brand during the pandemic. The Gen Z consumer is just so active on those platforms: They ask questions and really want to know about our product, which translates directly into sales.

Peace Out Skincare launched in 2017 as a Sephora-exclusive brand, and then it expanded to a D2C ecommerce strategy last summer. At eMarketer, we’re forecasting a 35% jump inUS ecommerce sales for the health, personal care, and beauty category in 2020. Does that forecast align with your expectations?

That lines up with the expectations we had for 2020 that we didn’t think we’d be able to accomplish. But with the new trend of wellness and with people looking for products that they can’t pick up in-person at a retail store like Sephora, we’re seeing a lot of D2C sales right now. It’s almost like the toilet paper effect, where people are buying in bulk, and they’re creating routines out of using our products.

At the start of the pandemic, beauty companies had to quickly change the ways they marketed their products to consumers. How did that play out for you?

What we learned through the pandemic was that people have become very particular. They were looking for a specific product that treated a specific need. So, we immediately changed our advertising. Instead of focusing on lifestyle messaging, we started emphasizing product imagery, benefits, results, and ingredients.

Do you think the trend of at-home wellness will continue post-pandemic?

I feel that people are becoming accustomed to creating their own at-home routines, from shopping online to building out a skin care program for themselves. I think, too, with maskne [a portmanteau of“mask” and “acne”] and other skin issues from wearing masks, people are looking for solutions to new, specific things. And it’s not just beauty-related. People who’ve never had acne before are now starting to get all this irritation, and our products can really help them. We help first responders with their maskne, and we’re constantly talking to consumers about it, too.

The pandemic has been the most disruptive event to the retail sector in the past decade. What have you taken away from this experience that can shape future success?

We didn’t know how things were going to go, and I don’t think anybody really did. Our team really came together and showed how strong we can be when everyone gets aligned and puts in the work. We saw an entirely new clientele come to us. We’re a prestige brand, and we sell exclusively with Sephora, but we saw people from all over the US and other parts of the world seek out our brand.

To read our collection of Industry Insights: CPGs Speak Out, download the PDF here.