India is Rare Beauty’s Second Largest First Week Launch After the U.S. – WWD

Rare Beauty launched in 34 countries in less than two years.

“When I say that, it’s hard to believe,” said chief sales officer Kim Magee.

With Sephora as its retail partner (and Space NK in the U.K.), the Southern California brand is now found in 36 countries. First came North America, in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, then Europe at all Sephora locations online, and in brick-and-mortar shops in France, Spain and Germany. The Asia-Pacific area was next, followed by the Middle East, U.K. and Brazil.

“Early on, we decided to take one step at a time,” explained chief executive officer Scott Friedman. “So we focused on North America, in Sephora specifically. But based upon our conversations with their team mainly and the way we work together, we realized that Sephora was the one that could take the learnings and the brand DNA that we’re developing and help us launch globally, particularly once they created the global team in San Francisco to use those best learnings and help North American brands navigate the nuances of their international markets. So once that happened, we were all in and that’s how we decided we were going to launch globally.”

“We would work with [Sephora’s] support global team and the local teams to plan out a launch strategy,” added Magee.

The most recent launch was in India on June 15, a significant market and one with great potential as Rare Beauty’s second-largest first-week launch after the U.S. Demand was already there; prior to launch, India was the brand’s second-largest audience on Instagram after the U.S., said Magee.

When brand founder and star Selena Gomez revealed the Sephora India launch in a playful Instagram video on June 1, it got more than 1 million likes on Rare Beauty’s account (which has 6 million followers). It’s the brand’s number-two most viewed and number-one most liked post on the platform. Doubling the action, that same day Gomez was seen in another video announcement with beauty influencer Mrunal Panchal, which has nearly 12 million views and more than 1.5 million likes and counting on Panchal’s page.

“That was by far our most engaged post we’ve ever had as a company,” said Magee.

In India, echoing other markets, consumers have been who the brand expected: largely an equal amount of Gen Z and Millennial shoppers.

“I know that Sephora speaks about that, how we are bringing that Gen Z client into Sephora and growing that community for them and for us,” said Magee.

Along with the U.S., the most successful markets have been Canada, France and Australia.

“We’re really leaning in and focusing on those, and they’re doing very, very well for us,” said Magee.

The biggest learning as the brand expands globally is forecasting, they echoed. Items — with Soft Pinch Liquid Blush as the hero, followed by Soft Pinch Tinted Lip Oil, Positive Light Liquid Luminizer Highlight, Perfect Strokes Universal Volumizing Mascara and Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick — are selling out faster than expected.

“It’s very difficult to forecast what’s going to happen…We’ve been trying to keep up with demand,” said Magee. “And as we’re getting them back in stock, now we’re starting to slowly see what the true potential is because we have yet to see our baseline. I can tell you our last four weeks have been the biggest weeks we’ve ever had.”

“By a lot,” chimed in Friedman.

“We’re a top brand in every single region online,” added Magee. “Because of some of our out-of-stocks, we over-index by sending the inventory to the dotcom. So that is showing what the potential of the brand is by seeing that we’re the top-performing brand in all regions online.”

Rooted in the brand DNA is Rare Beauty’s mission to impact with its Rare Impact Fund — the brand’s nonprofit affiliate working to expand mental health awareness and services, particularly in underserved communities (with one percent of all Rare Beauty sales going to the fund). As revealed on Thursday, in India, the brand has partnered with organizations Kolkata Sanved and Labhya, which share the mission of “expanding access to mental health resources and education for young people.”

Gomez is the face at the center of the mission, sharing the message and new product launches as the brand grows. Her fans are global, with 427 million on Instagram and 59 million on TikTok, and they’ve been eager to access Rare Beauty goods.

“When we were at the Brazil launch, the influencers and the community, they knew everything about the brand before we were there,” said Friedman.

“They care about the same things,” he added, of global shoppers. “To me, it’s a testament to the brand…That helps us lean into the same content, and it helps us train beauty advisers, also.”

“When Selena is talking about a product, everybody wins, because it’s the whole synchronized message,” said Magee. “It’s a 360 strategy around the world. And that is where Sephora has set us up to be able to do that globally. It’s really powerful.”

“So other than supply chain, it’s much easier when you do everything at the same time,” added Friedman. “There’s different lead times for different markets so it creates some healthy stress on our team.”

Of future plans, he said: “The reality is we still have tremendous room to grow. Within our current Sephora partnership, we are adding space within existing doors and will be part of new door growth in existing markets. But the existing space will allow us to add so many exciting new product collections. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. At some point, we’ll be interested in other possible partners but right now we’re focused on really leaning into what’s working, and it’s working.”

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