Now, Bubble gets tagged on TikTok more than 4,000 times per day and has a long waitlist for its ambassador program, Eisenman said. Many of those ambassadors are young enough to need permission from their parents to join the Bubble program, adding an extra approval step to the Bubble team’s plate.
As a result, Bubble has grown its social media staffers from a team of about four people to roughly 20 people.
Eisenman said the marketing channels the brand spends the most time and money on vary from month to month and product to product. “If we are currently in regular months that don’t have any launches, sometimes it’s on paid ads, sometimes it’s on influencers,” she said. “Sometimes it’s more on the retail side, ensuring that we have a beautiful experience in store. We are currently evolving and focusing a lot on the education team and field team, which is obviously a significant marketing investment as well.”
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What the experts say
Targeting Gen Z shoppers in the affordable skincare aisle has put Bubble on the map. Plus, 2020 in some ways was a really great time to launch a skincare brand and get started on TikTok, according to experts in the space.
The Cetaphils and CeraVes of the world, which operate in the same space and price range as Bubble, were ripe for disruption in 2020. Unlike Bubble, with its bright colors and fun, bold fonts, these brands are not “particularly innovative or cool or trendy,” Sky Canaves, senior analyst, retail & e-commerce at Insider Intelligence, said of Bubble’s older competitors. She added that the cooler, trendier brands in the skincare space typically tend to exceed Bubble’s price point.
The $20 and below price range appeals to Gen Z “especially the younger Gen Z teen segments,” she added. While many of them would love to spend hundreds of dollars on high-end beauty and skincare products they can't quite afford that yet, Canaves noted—so they’re looking for the best value for their babysitting money.
“Affordability is also really important to that consumer demographic,” Emma Chozick, head of community and curation at brand discovery platform Thingtesting, said of Gen Z in an interview. “Especially since it's a younger demographic, they're not buying like Lancer skincare, they're not going to like Nordstrom and buying Caudalie.”
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“That's part of what’s given rise to the huge dupe trend on TikTok, for example, and also ties into the de-influencing trend where creators review and discuss products that beauty shoppers really shouldn't be spending their money on,” Canaves said.
Chozick also noted that Gen Z likes shopping in-store. “They like accessibility. They like ease of purchase,” Chozick said.
Canaves seemed particularly impressed with Bubble. “They’re selling out some of their top products, and their products are going viral,” she said, adding that “they reportedly have a very strong product pipeline going into next year.”
Plus, it just happens to be a great time to be a skincare brand. “Skincare is a subcategory of cosmetics and beauty, which is a subcategory of health and personal care, and in 2023 it will be the fastest-growing of all of the retail categories and subcategories that we track,” Canaves said.
During the height of the pandemic, Canaves continued, “interest in skincare and taking care of yourself” increased. “That's really reached younger consumers through the impact of social channels. They're just a lot better educated and more sophisticated in their knowledge of products and the ingredients that go into them. … There's consumer demand.”
While Bubble might have the upper hand on TikTok, it has a long way to go in terms of beating out legacy brands such as CeraVe in market share. Canaves cited a recent WWD report which noted that unnamed “industry sources” expect Bubble’s sales to reach $85 million in 2023, “with those sales predominantly in the U.S.,” per Canaves.
For comparison, while L'Oréal, CeraVe’s parent company, doesn’t break out the brand’s sales, “it did note that it reached the $1 billion mark back in 2021, and sales have continued to grow at a rapid pace since then, so global annual sales should be more than $1.5 billion by now. The U.S. is the brand’s biggest market, accounting for 60% of its sales, per the latest earnings call. We forecast U.S. retail sales for skincare to reach $21.59 billion this year,” Canaves continued.