Unexpected collaborations in the cosmetic industry and why they’re genius

Unexpected collaborations in the cosmetic industry and why they’re genius

Collaborations have always been part of the beauty industry, but in the past couple of years, seemingly non related companies, individuals and organizations have teamed up to broaden their reach, find new consumers and move into spaces they could not access on their own.

A few of my favorites are reviewed below.

Aveda & Phillip Lim  – Holiday 2021

With sustainability in mind, the collaboration between “clean” beauty brand Aveda (owned by Estée Lauder) and Asian American fashion designer Phillip Lim aimed at all things environmentally friendly.

The luxury cosmetics brand and the global fashion label launched a collection of hair accessories in designer packaging intended to outlast the 2021 holiday season.

The products are cruelty-free and made with 100% organic ingredients. According to the official website of 3.1 Phillip Lim, they used materials such as 100% organic cotton for the hair towel, 100% recycled plastic for the scrunchies and 95% recycled materials for the comb. The haircare products are vegan and made with renewable energy resources.

Founded in Minneapolis in 1978, Aveda was championing environmental responsibility in beauty long before words such as “sustainability” and “eco-friendly’’ were part of our daily lexicon.

Bridgerton & Beekman 1802   March 2022

Josh Kilmer-Purcell, writer, and Brent Ridge, physician, founded Beekman 1802 in 2009, leaving the bustle of New York City behind them, moving to the historic Beekman 1802 farm in rural Sharon Springs, NY.

Bridgerton is the latest Shonda Rhimes Netflix success, a period piece set in London’s Regency era.

They created The Bridgerton High Society Soaps Set:

“The ton is abuzz about the most exciting collection of the season! Transport yourself to a world of high elegance and sensual delights with the Ton’s favorite purveyor of fine goods and toiletries.”

The High Society Goat Milk Soaps (best sellers for Beekman 1802) will wash away the day (and your indiscretions), leaving radiant, moisturized, and perfumed skin.

The packaging is part of the experience, with individual soaps wrapped in Lady Whistledown’s Society Columns and nestled in a keepsake box laced in velvet ribbon, evoking a woman’s corset.

The collection comes to life by scanning the cameo on the box using the Artivive app for an experience that blends art, tech and beauty.

E.L.F & Dunkin’ March 2022

E.L.F. Cosmetics are known to be trendy, innovative and affordable. The brand loves a bit of humor and doesn’t take itself too seriously…a great combination. Founded in 1950, Dunkin’ is known for lots of coffee, probably donuts and speed. With over eleven thousand franchised restaurants globally, they are easy to spot. There are five items on the E.L.F. x Dunkin’ menu:

First is the Dunkin’ Dozen, three four-pan eye shadow palettes with shades inspired by favorite donut flavors.

Second is Glazed for Days Lip Gloss Set, featuring two tubes of gloss, in Dunkin’s instantly recognizable logo colors.

Third is E.L.F.’s hero primer turned into the Donut Forget Putty Primer, but this time smelling like donuts. (You really need to be a donut fan to appreciate this collaboration!)

Number four is Strawberry Frosted With Sprinkles Face Sponge.

And finally, for coffee lovers, Coffee Lip Scrub that exfoliates with sugar and smells just like your “favorite” Dunkin’ brew.

The products are also available as a collection, with a reusable cup and straw-inspired makeup brush set.

La Mer & Maison Carrousel  April 2022

The French confectioner, Maison Carrousel teamed up with the American skincare brand La Mer (part of the Estée Lauder family) to offer a “sweet interlude”.

Crème de la Mer, with its fermentation process and its alleged regenerative power of sea algae, has become a true beauty icon with a cult following.

Maison Carrousel created marshmallows (French guimauves are a far cry from American marshmallows) for the collaboration with exclusive flavors of lime, black tea, raspberry, spirulina and walnuts, many of which are signature ingredients of La Mer’s star cream.

A custom rounded marshmallow shape was created to be reminiscent of the mythical Crème de la Mer jar. A marshmallow tasting bar was designed for the event at Le Bon Marché in Paris from February through April 2022.

While some of these pairings may feel like a stretch, they represent a willingness on the part of the consumer to allow brands today to move beyond what might have been considered brand boundaries a few years ago.  Thoughtful collaborations can enrich a brand story, provide fresh content for social media, reach new consumers and generally expand a brand’s reach.

And then there’s the buzz!  Anyone remember the collaboration in 2020 between Pat McGrath, the makeup artist, and Supreme New York, the street wear brand?  They jointly developed a lipstick, which allegedly sold out in eight seconds.

You can’t beat that level of buzz!

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Before opening The Young Group in 1999, Karen was Vice President of Marketing, Advertising, Product Development and Sales Promotion for Lancôme. Prior to that, she spent seventeen years at Estée Lauder, where she held a variety of executive positions, including Executive Director of Color Cosmetics. Karen is an active board member of Fashion Group International. She is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist. Karen divides her time between New York and Paris, where The Young Group also has an office. Since opening The Young Group, Karen has worked extensively in all categories of the cosmetic industry. She has developed concepts and products for RoC, Bath and Body Works, Neutrogena, e.l.f, Vichy and Oribe. Karen has worked on numerous established brands in the beauty category, including Christian Dior Beauté, Shiseido, Bumble & bumble, Dove and Paula’s Choice. Karen is an adjunct professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology, teaching Product Development in the Master's program in Cosmetic & Fragrance Marketing and Management.

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