RoC Skincare’s business marketing strategy goes beyond the skin

E-commerce startups are struggling to do without Facebook’s advertising engine. Legacy brands are being disrupted by the evolution of e-commerce.

One company hoping to split the difference is RoC Skincare, a brand spun off from Johnson & Johnson and acquired by private equity firm Griffin in 2018. RoC was first acquired by J&J in 1993.

It was Griffin’s gamble that broke away from J&J’s rather stuffy, brick-and-mortar-focused organization — J&J products are sold in Walmart, Walgreens, Target, and CVS among other high-street chains. – RoC could modernize its marketing to boost e-commerce.

RoC’s first two employees were CEO Fernando Acosta, a former senior marketing manager at Unilever and Avon, and CMO Hillary Hutcheson, a marketing specialist for the No7 Skincare brand, owned by L’Oreal and Walgreens.

In 2019, after RoC was acquired from J&J, it took “the brand and all the brand assets, but they didn’t bring any people, marketing plans, or innovation strategies,” Hutcheson said. .

Freed from the legacy marketing mentality – the J&J version of the product hadn’t even bothered with a site or an Instagram handle – RoC is now redefining itself around younger, savvy customers. (“Skintellectuals,” as Hutcheson puts it).


AdExchanger sat down with Hutcheson to talk about the brand overhaul and its marketing strategy given the clean slate.

AdExchanger: What are your sales channels?

HILLARY HUTCHESON: RoC is a mass market brand. We are in Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Ulta and other stores.

When we bought the brand, RoC didn’t even have a digital presence. We launched Roc.com and enabled direct-to-consumer e-commerce in June 2020.

And then, of course, we have e-commerce with our retail partners. E-commerce has become a big driver for RoC, especially with Amazon.

What is Amazon’s share of overall sales?

It is definitely one of our best retail partners.

But in-store sales are still in the majority?

Yes.

We have a very established business from a brick and mortar perspective, but that has evolved over the past two years. A significant part of our business with our retail partners is now also done online.

Some large retailers have launched online advertising platforms. Do you use any?

Retailer-owned media networks have definitely been a big trend over the past couple of years. And yes, we have experienced some of the greats.

For example, we have carried out quite large programs with the Roundel target group, and we have achieved excellent results. You can deepen the targeting.

What do you mean when you say you can go very far with targeting?

it goes back to our overall targeting strategy.

When we took over the brand, we conducted a massive segmentation analysis to refine our target, which we call the “skintellectual”. She’s a beauty consumer who’s very committed to her category: she uses seven or more skincare products a week in her routine, spends far more than the category average on skincare, and knows the ingredients well. She knows about retinol, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. She visits the dermatologist.

These are some of the specific attributes we are looking for.

And on retailer-owned platforms like a Roundel, we can laser target to talk to that specific consumer: it’s a woman who buys multiple skincare products, including more expensive items or those bearing the mark “hyaluronic acid”

What does your media mix look like after the launch of social and e-commerce?

One of the tactics we use to drive the overall funnel, whether it’s awareness or consideration through to conversion, is linear TV and OTT.

Then we complement that with significant investments in digital, including paid social networks, which is an important topic for us. We’ve seen great success with Instagram and Facebook, which have proven themselves over the past two years despite iOS updates. TikTok as a marketing lever has also worked very well for us in driving awareness and sales and helping us recruit a new set of consumers.

Social networks are good too, because the influencer is a huge for us. We partner with many influencers who are skintellectuals themselves and can talk about the product’s effectiveness and our clinical evidence, which is at the heart of the brand.

Programmatic is at the heart of our media. We are a brand competing in highly saturated markets, against brands with huge budgets – and we don’t have a huge budget. We need to make our money work harder for us. Programmatic is a way to reach targeted consumers more flexibly while controlling costs.

We also run Nielsen media mix model studies on a regular cadence to check ROI and see if we are spending efficiently.

Do you have a programmatic provider?

We use an agency called Empower. They are familiar with the research we have done and our target customers. Before any programmatic campaign launches, they take this information, map it to the campaign, and ensure it matches our targeting profile.

With programmatic, do you send traffic to Roc.com, Amazon.com or another merchant site?

It’s a balance. We are constantly re-evaluating and dividing our spend, as we want to ensure that we support all channels holistically.

We take two main campaign approaches. One is more of a national campaign lens that supports all retailers that carry the brand, including Roc.com, as well as Amazon.

But we are also applying more persistent online channel tactics. At Roc.com, for example, we have an ongoing strategy around Google Search and Facebook’s paid social networks. We have some direct sales on Facebook, but it’s more about trying to drive traffic to our DTC.

Finally, Amazon is the other place where we have an evergreen strategy. But we have to decide whether Amazon’s advertising platform should serve ads that keep people on Amazon or send them to Roc.com. If it’s an Amazon shopper, is that where they’ll actually convert?

Our other retailer advertising platforms link directly to their product pages.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

William L. Hart