If in 2013, when Drew Barrymore was talking about Flower Beauty all over the place, you told me that it would be a runaway hit and bestselling product line, I might have believed you, but I might have shrugged. There is something about Drew that makes her easy to underestimate even though she’s proven time and again that she can get sh-t done. What is that? The E.T. effect?
Drew spoke with her father-in-law, Arie Kopelman, at the Financo CEO forum this week and talked about her beauty brand’s roots and where it’s going –Australia, China, South America. It was launched exclusively with Walmart but now she’s ready for e-commerce and to try her hand at the international market.
Looking at where the beauty/celebrity lifestyle market is, Flower was ahead of its time (two years in lifestyle is forever): Gwyneth launched hers just this month and Jessica Alba’s Honest Beauty launched in fall 2015. I mention these three together not because they are women (as Gwyneth would like to assert) but because they’ve all diversified: books, fashion, home décor, beauty, baby products, food, wine, sunglasses. That Drew was launching Flower a few years ago seems like an accomplishment in hindsight.
In terms of lifestyle products, makeup is a complex and highly prestigious project to take on. Think of the avalanche of time and money that would go into allergy testing, package design, securing factories, distribution, marketing etc. Gwyneth’s partnership with Juice Beauty makes complete sense – getting organic certification is costly and time consuming, so she’s leveraging an established company that can do the heavy lifting. Honest Beauty relies on Jessica Alba and her mommy mafia connections for marketing, which is why she never stops hustling on social media. Flower Beauty has always been about Drew’s Drewness combined with a simple idea: to be useful and cheap.
She promised affordable and it is unimpeachably affordable, with foundation (typically a more expensive item) coming in at around $14 (and that’s Canadian –knock about 30% off in the US). She wanted accessibility for all types of women, and what is more accessible than Walmart? It’s not exactly Bergdorf’s. She knows that. Being at Walmart screams inexpensive and commonplace, so she’s trading prestige for pragmatism.
Lots of options at good price points --- it’s not sexy, but it’s damn smart. Traditional retail (which is hurting) is where Drew had a baptism-by-fire that the other lines won’t, and it matters. If Honest Beauty or Juice Beauty can’t move a product, there is no fear of getting chucked. They can run out of money, sure, but they could do it quietly. Having your product yanked from 4,000 Walmart stores would be a story. It was a risk that took more than money and more than time – it’s her name, her reputation, on the line. And the risk paid off.
For all of her success, Drew is more in line with Jessica Simpson than Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s succeeding in lifestyle by not telling women how to live their lives. She’s one of us, not above us (in branding at least). If she can nurture it into a billion dollar business and, this is key here, not lose the cache and access that Gwyneth enjoys, Drew will be the first one to bridge the gap between unabashedly making bank and having an open invitation to present at the Oscars. I think they call that “having it all.”