Origins embraces cannabis with an exclusive Sephora launch

Origins is marking its entrance into cannabis culture with a new “Hello, Calm” mask launching exclusively online at Sephora on Tuesday.

For Origins, it represents the first brand in the Estée Lauder Companies portfolio to create a cannabis product and is also the first premium brand to do so. Other brands at Sephora that market the usage of cannabis ingredients include Milk Makeup, High Beauty and Fresh. Origins’ new Hello, Calm mask – which was created in collaboration with Sephora — features non-intoxicating cannabis sativa seed oil, derived from the seeds of the hemp plant, rather than the ubiquitous CBD oil, which is produced from the flowers, leaves and stalks of hemp plants. Cannabis sativa oil has more research behind it than CBD does to support anti-inflammation claims related to acne, eczema and rosacea. After launching online on both Sephora and Origins, the mask will become available in stores on Oct. 5.

As cannabis culture has entered the mainstream, and public policy has significantly begun relaxing laws around recreational and medicinal usage, beauty brands have steadily been introducing cannabis ingredients into their portfolio.

Discussion around a cannabis ingredient had been floated around for years at Origins due to its supposed efficacy around anti-inflammation, according to Julie Van Ongevalle, the brand’s svp and global general manager. But it was not viable until recently because of the stigmatized culture around cannabis as well as Origins’ own strict product-development specifications around using natural ingredients.

“We didn’t do it before because it had negative connotations, but as more people start to understand the benefits of it — even in medicine — it’s become more acceptable,” Van Ongevalle said. “We didn’t want to shock our customers.”

Like many legacy beauty brands, Origins has been making an effort to modernize products and better communicate with customers, and it has resulted in a younger-skewing customer. At Sephora, the average Origins customer is 29 years old, while across North America as a whole, she is 37 years old, Van Ongevalle said, adding that the brand is still trying to appeal to new and current customers of all ages.

Cannabis beauty is big business, according to research firm Brightfield Group, which stated in an industry report that the rapidly growing (and more popular) CBD market hit $170 million in 2017 and is projected to reach $1 billion within the next three years.

Because cannabis sativa oil and the Hello, Calm mask are a new ingredient and new product, respectively, Origins relied on the Sephora Community to drum up interest. The Sephora Community lives as a Reddit-like internet forum on Sephora’s website to which each Beauty Insider has access. Origins selected 50 highly engaged members to receive and review the mask. Overall, the thread received over 550 replies, 42 user-generated photos that live on the message board and over 7,600 views from the community.

“The community play is very important. Whenever possible, we try to engage and develop specific programs or pre-seeding or mailings to the Sephora community,” an Origins spokeswoman said, adding that one pre-seeding activation for Hello, Calm that the company did was an “Amsterdam-style” pop-up coffee shop (complete with brownies and green lollipops) at WWD Style Dimension in early September.

But despite a cheeky wink to cannabis culture, Ongevalle said the brand wants to focus on the”nourishing” and “calming” benefits of the ingredient rather than the culture surrounding it. The brand is working with a mix of macro- and micro-influencers, including Kay-Lani Martinez (@viva_glam_kay) and Yesenia Hipolito (@yeshipolita), to help educate their followers, in addition to relying on its own social channels to inform people about the distinct properties of the ingredient.


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