How This “Abnormal Beauty Company” Is Busting The Luxury Beauty Myth
One of the things that people will notice after years of usage of a variety of beauty and skincare products is that big brands do not always deliver the results they promise. Sometimes, the promises they make are impossible to deliver. You cannot expect a product to brighten your complexion or smooth those inevitable wrinkles that come with age. Most of these “effects” that using a cream or gel or mask or scrub is supposed to give you have no scientific basis.
The beauty industry today is a case study in the Veblen effect. Customers automatically equate quality with price. They do not care about the ingredients or even if they are proven to help with their perceived “problem”. What matters is that the product is costly. Therefore, it must have some revolutionary formula to do what it and its advertising models with a full face of makeup, chiseled by cosmetic surgery, guided by personal trainers, dieticians, and beauty experts, swear it would. They probably do no more than a drugstore mass-market product that often sells the same or more, at a much lower price.
When Canadian-Iranian computer engineer Brandon Truaxe was working on the software for a beauty company, he was pretty much flabbergasted at how these companies loot its customers. The disparity between the cumulative cost price of the ingredients and manufacturing price of the product, and the market price that the companies mark them at, was glaring and outrageous. He decided to do something about it and DECIEM was born in Toronto. He branded it as “The Abnormal Beauty Company”, meaning to do away with all the excess that has been normalized in the sector. He did not want the current beauty industry to hold his brand hostage, so he did not hire a single person from the industry for his company.
His goal was to bring exactly what the customers needed and wanted but without the unnecessary “fluff”, as he describes. He knew that people would not stop wanting to look better, prettier, or younger. So, he wanted to give them a more sustainable way to do it, both in terms of beauty itself and their wallets too. Instead of a quick fix, he promises actual results by telling customers what the ingredients do and leaving it up to the people to decide which they need. Instead of ostentatious packaging, branding, and marketing, he keeps the whole do at a minimum, and the prices too. Kind of the opposite of what every other beauty brand does. And that is what sets DECIEM apart. Truly abnormal, don’t you think?
Brandon Truaxe saw first-hand why the beauty companies were so successful in duping customers. They used literal catalogs for the ingredients and promised a fancy result. Obviously, no customer is going to research each ingredient and verify its justification for being in the bottle. They would rather just trust the tagline goal and go for it. If the price was high, it was automatically assumed that the product was worth something. Truaxe and co-CEO Nicola Kilner turned this entire tactic on its head. Instead of playing flashy, they went for generic, taking advantage of the same strategy by which medicines are encouraged to be sold and bought. They highlighted the active ingredient, explained its benefits, and let the customer choose the product on that basis. The focus, at all points, is on the ingredient and its scientific action, not some high-and-mighty radical change in appearances.
Truaxe knew that he could give his customers exactly what the luxury brands do. By focussing on long-term beauty and holistic health, he could bring high-end products to the people at not even one-tenth of the price. By keeping research and development under his control, he could use easily available raw materials and not raise the price by mixing in other chemicals that were simply useless and often even harmful. He ardently believes that beauty and luxury do not have to be out of the reach of most people - everyone has a right to good things.
The most popular brand under the DECIEM umbrella is Ordinary, and for good reason. It strips a beauty product down to its basic active ingredient. It simply explains what the ingredient is supposed to do. For example, instead of saying a product removes wrinkles, he literally explains that it relaxes the face muscles just like Botox does, thus reducing wrinkles. Simple, authentic, and effective. In fact, this is what separates DECIEM from others. Instead of equating quality with beauty, he equates it with functionality. And once a customer knows what function a product serves at the base level, it becomes easy for them to make the right choice instead of being trapped by flashy signs.
Besides functional beauty, transparency is a big buzzword in DECIEM. The focal principle of Truaxe is to remove all the screens that the beauty market has set up between the manufacturer and the customer. DECIEM wants to put the control back in the hand of the customer. By maintaining transparency and authenticity, DECIEM is disrupting the entire skincare industry. People are realizing what they were paying for - a lot of unnecessary extras, grand marketing, and the lining of the pockets of the billionaire owners. This means most products at DECIEM are around 10 dollars, which is something of a miracle after the history of beauty products north of a few hundred dollars. Its costliest is $200, which is usually the standard or the cheapest for most brands.
And apparently, this strategy is massively successful too. DECIEM started in 2013 with just one product and an almost non-existent staff of three. In a year, it swelled to four independent skincare lines with a total of 30 products. Today they have ten product lines and hundreds of employees. In the first year itself, there was a revenue of $50 million. In the first three years, they sold 2 million pieces. Then everything changed when Ordinary launched. That year itself, 8 million units were sold. The 27 products under it attracted long waiting lists. Just their foundation itself resulted in an Internet-breaking 75 thousand long waiting list. Its revenue is in a few hundred million today. The demand got to the point that the company had to be acquired by Estee Lauder just to meet them.
DECIEM works the way traditional medicine does - give only what you need, charge exactly what that cost. There is no playing on the sentimentality of the customers or the obsession for unattainable results. For one, DECIEM does away with marketing glitz. They rely heavily on social media and word-of-mouth to spread the news. In fact, Truaxe considers advertising as a method of notifying users of a new product or change and not of convincing them that they will metaphorically die if they do not use it. He does not believe in grand storefronts. All products are sold either online or through their own stores, departmental stores, or selected retailers. Even the packaging is unpresuming, in clinical bottles or simple tubes. The entire marketing revolves around educating the customer regarding what they will get out of the product, not to go get the product. Salespersons are not even given any targets to fulfill.
This shift of focus away from the marketing has allowed Truaxe to spend more on actual R&D. As a result, he can keep creating more products and better products. This pulls more customers and DECIEM is able to maximize sales to achieve similar bottom-lines as the major beauty brands, even though their profit margin stays low at all times. This is epitomized by Ordinary, which sells generic products at low price points. It encourages people to try out their products more, even experiment with what works for them and what does not. Once they know, they can shift to one of the higher-priced, more finished products like NIOD, all of which are based off of the same technology and research. This is clever too since it keeps business within the brand.
The lack of conventional marketing also keeps the R&D team free from the influence of the marketing team. Big companies often get trapped in a vicious circle of marketers forcing trends and demands on the chemists, which keeps them from creating something of real worth. Costly, often ineffective products fill the market, proving a disaster for brand loyalty. So marketers again push projected demands on chemists and nothing comes out of it. By breaking this cycle, DECIEM reinjects quality into the market.
Sky-touching progress. Prestigious awards like “Innovation in Beauty”. DECIEM is doing something right in doing it all backward. The thing about DECIEM is that its foundation is not built on fads or trends. It is sustainable in the sense that people are obviously digging. Today, people trust a brand more when they can clearly see what is happening behind the scenes. In the age of knowledge, you cannot blame the newer generations for wanting to know how things actually work instead of believing dogmas. Being of the current generation, Truaxe understands what “Eat the rich” means and implementing it in every part of DECIEM. Needless to say, it is here to stay.
Strategic Intern- NeenOpal Analytics @Omkar Shindekar
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