Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, known in the global market for their mineral-based products, is only just beginning to reap the rewards following the brand’s repackaging and repositioning that was initiated last year.
Steering the company in this new direction is Ahava North America CEO Elana Drell Szyfer, a beauty industry veteran with a new set of strategies to bring an overall cohesiveness to the brand.
Since Drell Szyfer’s joining Ahava, the company has seen double-digit increases in every key account for 2011, and has greatly expanded its distribution.
“Truthfully, the brand is on fire,” said Drell Szyfer. “I am happy to say that the repackaging and repositioning is working. Ahava is now in all doors at Ulta, Lord & Taylor and CVS’s Beauty 360, 30 Nordstrom stores and four Blue Mercury stores, as well as macys.com.”
According to Drell Syzfer, she is thankful to HSN for helping to restore the consumer’s confidence after the brand experienced its game-changing makeover.
“Sometimes repackaging can be difficult, and HSN was the story-telling vehicle for us to launch the new look and explain the changes we had made as a brand,” said Drell Szyfer. “At first, sales softened due to consumer confusion, but it didn’t take long for consumers to see that the new packaging is modern, and better conveys the positioning of the brand.”
For three years, Ahava has been collaborating with HSN to provide consumers with exclusivity and value.
HSN host Bobbi Ray Carter with Ahava’s
Elana Drell Szyfer during a live show.
“HSN customers appreciate the chance to discover something first,” said Drell Szyfer. “They have been a great partner for us, and give us the ability to explain definitions of product terms (Ahava’s osmoter, for example) and display pictures of key ingredients to ‘bring the Dead Sea to them.’ There is a lot to say about this brand, and a story to tell, which can’t always be conveyed on a store shelf.”
Taking advantage of the multitude of shopping channels available for consumers today, Drell Szyfer has prioritized her distribution strategies moving forward.
“It is common wisdom today that there is a synergy between media channels, and I see it not as conflicting, but as an additive,” said Drell Szyfer. “We usually see a spike in sales in brick and mortar after doing a TV segment, and a social media campaign via the Web tends to drive consumers to brick and mortar stores. Today, the consumer shops everywhere.”
One of Ahava’s key strategies is a big investment in sampling, which Drell Szyfer believes will increase the brand’s awareness in both the retail and consumer communities.
“There is a certain ‘buzz’ associated with sampling, and new companies like Birchbox, who we’ve really enjoyed working with,” said Drell Szyfer. “Popular YouTube personalities, with thousands of followers, will open their [Birch]boxes and sample the Ahava product inside using a video demonstration. Almost instantly, thousands of new consumers are aware of the brand.”
The brand’s newest product introductions, which recently debuted on HSN, include an exclusive range of Mineral Botanic Velvet Body Lotions and Extreme Firming Eye Cream—part of a new pro-youth face franchise called Extreme.
According to Drell Szyfer, plans for the future include a heavy boost in advertising, as well as new
“Growing the U.S. market is the number one priority for the brand right now,” said Drell Szyfer. “We are putting a massive focus on public relations, and hope this well help introduce the consumer to our expanding ‘face’ category. We also just signed on a creative agency called Air Paris to help us continue to evolve the story-telling of the brand and enhance our marketing capabilities.”
With the heightened success of “beauty dot-coms,” Drell Syzfer sees enormous potential in the digital space, including the “buzz” that social media brings.
“Today, 17% of our business is on ‘beauty dot-coms,’ and we hope for it to be 30% by the end of the year,” said Drell Syzfer. “These sites encourage sampling, which is a big part of our strategy because once you try Ahava, you love it. I believe it is a cult brand—we just need to unleash the cult a little.”
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