Successful Italian cosmetics company Equilibra was looking at the U.S. as a promising new market to expand revenue. The product to be marketed was an anti-aging serum with an interesting point of difference: an innovative single-application micro-capsule, which promised both purity and efficacy.
Our research showed that European heritage was compelling to American women, but that they were fatigued at the over-promises and under-delivery common to the anti-aging category. Shoppers were vocal about wanting proof as much as claims, yet we also knew that aspirations of youth and beauty were still relevant.
The key growth opportunity for Equilibra was new product development. An opportunity existed for a totally new product, one positioned around reality, to appeal to this category’s demand for the next cutting-edge beauty innovation.
First, we found the balance between aspiration and honesty, capturing the values of pragmatism and efficacy without losing the essence of European glamour. We leveraged the unique product delivery design to achieve true differentiation. Finally, we deployed a trade strategy that engaged a major retailer to support us as a captive brand during the growth phase.
Inspired by the look of the serum beads, we developed the name Perlabella (“beautiful pearls”) to clearly communicate European and directly refer to the pearly look of the product. Working with trade partners, we created merchandising and cosmetic counter units around a simple creative concept—an Italian “fountain of youth,” which carried over into national print in People, More and other publications. We developed sample packs and trial mechanisms with the fervent belief that those who tried the product would understand its true uniqueness. And they did.
After a successful test, Walgreens accepted Perlabella nationally—more than 8,000 stores—as a captive brand, ensuring a successful launch. Ulta, Duane Reade and Kerr Drug stores quickly followed.