Tria Beauty: an America's Hottest Brands Case Study

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Tria Beauty
A recession might seem like the wrong time to launch a $795 home laser hair-removal gadget, but it's turned out fine for Tria Beauty.

If it was behind on the macroeconomic trend, it was ahead of other players breaking into the U.S. home-laser market.

The privately held brand's sales have met forecasts, logging 50,000 units sold globally by mid-2009. That includes Japan, where Tria got regulatory approval to launch in 2005. It means retail sales are $10 million to $20 million annually.

Orchestrating Tria's U.S. launch has been Drake Stimson, 45, VP-sales and marketing and a veteran of Procter & Gamble Co., where he helped launch another new brand a decade earlier -- Febreze. He joined Tria in 2007.

Mr. Stimson's experience at P&G led him to the belief that "the greatest breakthroughs and biggest innovations in the beauty market are going to come through these energy-based devices. ... The degree of benefit they will bring is significantly greater than any new ingredient or product upgrade in the traditional topical [skin treatment] market."

Tria sells through its own website (, home shopping network QVC and about 70 Nordstrom and Nieman Marcus doors nationwide. Online, search marketing and PR have been key, Mr. Stimson said. But the brand launched magazine advertising earlier this year too, helping to quadruple website traffic to 40,000 unique monthly visitors in September compared to a year ago, according to PR shop Rpr, New York, has led efforts since the U.S. launch began, with ad agency RBG Marketing, Walnut Creek, Calif., recently joining to help on print.

Drake Stimson
Drake Stimson, VP, sales and marketing, Tria Beauty
"A lot of people expected the business to do poorly because of the recession, but really all it's done is amplify the value to the consumer," Mr. Stimson said. "If you go to the dermatologist to get professional hair removal done, it can cost you ... $5,000 to $7,000 to do your full body. Or you could buy this device for $795."

It's a potentially huge market, Mr. Stimson said, with 95% of women shaving and 30% waxing or doing some other form of hair removal, though the key target is women who place particular importance on hair removal. Ultimately, Tria expects FDA approval and a growing market for other areas of skin care, including anti-aging and acne treatment.

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