Herbitual is an emerging skincare brand that is on a mission to provide relief, nourishment, and peace to anyone suffering in their own skin. The brand specializes in developing products that aid dry, sensitive, or eczema prone skin, and has seen a lot of early success with its influencer program — specifically when it comes to influencer product seeding.
In the article below, Peter White, founder and CEO of Herbitual discusses how he has built a skincare brand that maintains and promotes authenticity through its influencer program.
How Herbitual Drives Authenticity and Sales with its Influencer Program
Built a brand with focus and authenticity at its heart
Peter had struggled personally with chronic eczema for many years, and eventually turned to traditional Chinese medicine to help heal and manage his dry, sensitive skin. This experience led him to discover a formula that he licensed and spent two years developing into Herbitual’s hero product, Atopic Skin Defense. While the brand just has its hero product for sale at the moment, Peter plans to develop a whole suite of products.
“There’s a template for how most skincare brands run their social media and influencer marketing campaigns – geared towards appealing to the widest demographic. I knew I wanted to take a different approach with Herbitual. The goal isn’t to prescribe a lifestyle to anyone, but instead to offer a unique product that can really help with difficult skin conditions, while speaking to the consumer in an authentic voice rooted in shared experience. My mission was to have this authentic voice ring true through every touch point and to elevate the category through creative content that’s inspiring as well as informative.” — Peter White, CEO and founder of Herbitual
At its core, Herbitual is about authenticity, honesty, and community. The brand is unique in that it combines beautiful branding and imagery with candid messaging — a community where folks can share openly about their experiences with chronic skin issues, and the products that help. This theme of honesty and authenticity has actually been on the rise with influencers and their audiences! In fact, when analyzing data from 62,950 influencers, Traackr found that there has been a 5% increase in influencers talking about eczema in the past year, with a 50% increase in engagements and 135% increase in video views.
Based on this mission and point of view, Peter, with the help of influencer marketing expert, Giovanna Rienzi, decided that Herbitual’s branding and influencer marketing strategies would stem from these core principles:
- Authentic and matter-of-fact
- Educational, useful, and non prescriptive
- Slow and selective growth
Found top influencers and avoided FOMO (fear of missing out)
“When defining our influencer marketing strategy, it was really important to us to be hyper focused. Before we did anything, we started by thinking through each of the use cases that our product could apply to. We asked ourselves: what pain points do we address? What kinds of lifestyles or situations could lead to those pain points? Once we went through this exercise, we had a clearer idea of what types of influencers would make great, authentic partners for our brand.” — Giovanna Rienzi, influencer marketing consultant
Due to budget restrictions, Peter and Giovanna decided to base Herbitual’s influencer program solely on influencer product seeding (aka gifting) campaigns. This is not an uncommon strategy for a fledgling brand, as traditional paid campaigns can be extremely cost prohibitive.
The good news — when done right, influencer product seeding campaigns have proven to be impactful in driving both sales and awareness. In fact, Traackr’s State of Influencer Product Seeding report found that 92% of marketers at least somewhat agree that influencer product seeding has successfully driven awareness for their business. And, 76% of marketers at least somewhat agree that influencer product seeding has successfully driven sales for their business.
That being said, it can be tricky to pull off truly impactful influencer product seeding campaigns. So what’s Herbitual’s secret to success? Peter and Giovanna have made an art out of avoiding “partnership fomo”, and have instead focused on finding unique influencers that are hyper-aligned to their brand.
When discussing their influencer program strategy, Peter decided that it would be important to be very protective about who they send their product to. The idea was that seeding product to anyone and everyone would water down their ROI (return on investment). Not only would those mass sends be difficult to manage for their small team, but it increased the likelihood of wasted product, and wasted time/money on influencers who ultimately wouldn’t find the product useful.
Instead, they wanted to find influencers that were actually passionate about their brand and product – either from personal experience or because it’s part of their profession. To achieve this, they used Traackr to find top influencers that were interesting, unique, and had a real need for the product. Here’s how they went about it:
- Narrowed their list of potential influencers with specialized keywords. By looking for folks who have talked about chronic skin conditions (e.g. eczema) before. They prioritized substance over aesthetic, and found that there were often a lot of inbound requests from influencers that would offer to take pretty photos, but ultimately weren’t the right fit. Know when to say no!
- Thought outside of the box. For example, they gifted products to artists and people who make pottery. These folks experience a lot of dryness and irritation from working with their hands – a perfect use case for Herbitual’s hero product. The hidden upside? A lot of these folks don’t often get gifted skincare so they were excited and more likely to post!
Tip: Curious to know more? Here’s a deep dive on how Traackr can help you find top influencers for your influencer program.
Developed an influencer program that invites engagement and product exploration
“At the end of the day, you need to accept that you don’t have the full picture when it comes to your own products. In fact, in the best of scenarios you will continually discover new uses for your products over time through your customers. We decided to make this type of product discovery and exploration a key goal for our influencer program too. After all, it’s a fantastic way to get quick feedback and build relationships!” — Peter White, CEO and founder of Herbitual
Because Peter and Giovanna were okay with starting small, staying focused, and building their influencer program slowly, they were able to divert some of their saved time towards engaging with partners and building strong relationships.
For example, when reaching out to influencers, Peter and Giovanna craft personalized messages. Even though the Atopic Skin Defense product was initially developed for folks with eczema and chronic skin conditions, they are careful not to diagnose or prescribe its use to anyone. Instead, they show folks how they could use the product if they are interested and encourage them to experiment with the product in different ways.
After the product is sent out, they make sure to follow up with each influencer. These follow ups aren’t the usual “please post about us”, but instead are invites for feedback. They ask: did you like it? Did it help you? How did you use it? Was there anything surprising or challenging? Did you use it in a different way than we said it had been used before? Not only has this helped them discover new use cases for their product (for example, someone used it to treat poison ivy!), they feel it is a way to invest in long-term organic relationships.
“Organic relationship building is about trust and communication, not about getting a quick win. It’s important to stay away from anything that may feel transactional. While it might take longer to see these types of relationships ‘pay off’, this is ultimately how you build a true community and how Peter wanted to build his business.” — Giovanna Rienzi, influencer marketing consultant
Herbitual’s influencer program results so far
So far, 76% of Herbitual’s DTC (direct-to-consumer) site traffic comes from mobile devices, primarily from linkable Instagram Stories and traffic from in-feed posts. And, it’s not just traffic. Roughly 50% of Herbitual’s sales so far have come from social media. The brand can even tie sales back to specific influencers — a favorable review from a LA-based esthetician’s IG Story drove 70% of monthly sales (within 24 hours), and, in March of 2023, half of total sales could be attributed to a social media review posted by a Hollywood actress.
Herbitual’s success story aligns with the broader trend of influencers driving both awareness and sales. In fact, recent findings from a survey that Traackr conducted found that 70% of US consumers are more likely to buy a product from a brand if they work with an influencer they know and trust. Brands that are looking to tap into the power of influencer partners should take a page from Peter and Giovanna’s playbook. Keep your influencer program hyper-focused, personalized, engaging, and embrace a strategy that prioritizes quality (over quantity) and slow but steady growth!
If you want to stay up to date on the amazing work that Peter and Giovanna are doing with Herbitual, follow the brand on TikTok or Instagram at @myherbitual!