Seventeen years ago. Way before Facebook was born and Wi-Fi became a household staple. Before beauty vloggers ruled YouTube and cyberspace became a favorable place to shop for anything. Before professional and high-efficacy skin care lines became accessible to just about anyone with problematic skin, Dermstore was already laying the groundwork for success.
The year was 1999. Board-certified dermatologist Craig Kraffert wanted to create a trusted, dermatologist-backed online store where everyone could have access to professional-grade skin care products and unbiased dermatology and beauty information. He wanted a place where he could recommend products and answer questions normally addressed only within the confines of a dermatologist’s office. He wanted optimal skin health to be more achievable to everyone. Seventeen years later, Dermstore is still doing what it does best—curating, educating and constantly seeking innovative and effective products that deliver real, clinically tested and visible results.
Running the second largest skin care and beauty e-commerce site in the United States—which carries more than 20,000 skin care, hair care and cosmetic products—is no easy feat. Just how challenging is it to play in an oversaturated, highly competitive industry? We sat down with Dermstore’s chief marketing officer, Cathy Beaupain, for answers.
Seventeen years. That’s a long time, especially for a company that solely exists online. How do you think Dermstore got this far?
Cathy Beaupain: Dermstore was started by a dermatologist with the goal of making hard-to-find but highly effective products readily available to our guests. We continue to deliver on this mission. But over the past 17 years we’ve also developed insights and a sharp understanding of a woman’s needs and desires—especially when it comes to taking care of themselves—and which beauty products really deliver on their promises. And our guests have come to know this: We have organically become a destination where our guests can trust our offerings and our community.
How do you define Dermstore’s DNA? What is its competitive set and how have those changed over the years?
Our DNA hasn’t changed over the years. It has always been about helping women feel confident through achieving their goals with their complexion. Aside from building a convenient and reliable space where women can have access to clinically proven and professional-strength beauty products, we also offer a breadth of credible information to educate them and make sure they make the right decisions for their skin.
“Dermstore’s DNA is all about helping women feel confident through achieving their complexion goals. We do this by making hard-to-find but highly effective beauty products readily available to them.” —Cathy Beaupain, CMO
Dermstore carries more than 500 brands now and about 20,000 SKUs. Do you see Dermstore as the next big online skin care retailer? Is that the goal?
Carrying over 500 brands of credible skin care and good-for-you makeup is about offering convenience and value to our guests. Our goal is not to offer the largest selection, but a credible, worthy assortment of brands and products that perform. As long as we stay focused on delivering value to our guests, we will continue to grow.
What are the biggest challenges in growing the Dermstore business? How do you approach these?
The biggest challenge for Dermstore is to continue to be where our guests are. New technology has changed the way we discover, explore and share our experiences, especially in skin care and beauty. Dermstore is challenged to constantly evolve our technology and our guest experiences to deliver content and a shopping experience that is memorable. Being part of Target Corporation allows us to think about our long-term guest experience and make appropriate investments that drive sustainable growth.
With organic beauty products and holistic living gaining ground, do you see this as a threat to the clinical and professional skin care line? How is Dermstore responding to this shift?
It’s great to see growth in niche products and natural lines; it shows that our guests have very different needs and expect products to not only deliver visible results, but also to be good for their overall health. This is where Dermstore plays a unique role of being product experts and helping our guests discover new products that just are not big enough to be carried in mainstream stores. I see these guests as being new to skin care and finally able to find products that fit their lifestyle preferences. With that, I see professional skin care lines continuing to do well. Overall, awareness of skin care is growing with the aging Gen X and baby boomer generations, and there’s greater awareness of the benefits of early skin care among millennials.
Some argue that shopping for beauty products is experiential and that stores with a physical, brick-and-mortar presence have much more appeal to shoppers. What is your view?
There is truth to our guests desiring to touch, smell and feel products. I don’t think digital innovations will displace this desire. However, I do believe that digital innovations can create new experiences that will provoke interests and further educate our guests to try something new. When you couple this with five-star customer service and free shipping, it gives Dermstore a competitive edge, especially when you have customers who put a premium on results and convenience.