Product display of Everyday Humans suncreens.
Everyday Humans founder Charlotte Chen Pienaar credits having a strong value proposition—and staying focused on it—as a top factor contributing to the growth of her business. — Everyday Humans

Three tips for creating a brand built to grow:

  • Have a strong value proposition and brand promise from day one and stay focused on it.
  • Be open to changing your packaging and messaging to make an online brand work better on store shelves.
  • Create a brand that fills a market need for retailers.

Charlotte Chen Pienaar was exhibiting her startup sunscreen brand, Everyday Humans, at a beauty industry trade show in the summer of 2018 when she was invited to apply for Target Takeoff, the Target brand accelerator program.

Five months later, she was in Minneapolis, learning from Target buyers, marketers and supply chain experts about how to get her brand ready for retail’s big leagues.

“It was during that time that I learned to rebuild the brand from the ground up so that I would be able to win at big box retailers,” Pienaar told CO—.

The accelerator program led to an online trial with Target, and this month, two of Everyday Humans’ top products, Resting Beach Face and Oh My Bod, will launch in more than 700 Target stores.

Pienaar shared with CO— the decisions she made that brought her brand from startup to store shelves at Target, while racking up omnichannel sales around the world.

Start with a strong value proposition for your brand, and use it as an anchor to guide decisions

Pienaar, who is from Hong Kong and runs the company from there, worked in equity capital and investment banking after graduating from New York University. In her late 20s she worked for various startups and discovered that she had a “huge passion for entrepreneurship and specifically for the Gen Z and millennial demographic,” she said.

She saw a need for a planet-friendly sunscreen brand that would work for all skin tones and skin types, and that could convince Gen Z and millennials to wear sun protection every day.

The aim, Pienaar said, was “to make sun protection a non-negotiable step in everybody’s routine, but do it in an inclusive and sustainable manner.”

The brand, led by its star product, Resting Beach Face, an SPF 30 sunscreen hybrid that combines sun protection with added skincare benefits, has been certified as plastic neutral and climate neutral, and uses only recycled plastics in its packaging.

The company is self-funded, with no venture capital investment and has seen its sales grow by 300% since its launch, with sales online and in several retail chains around the world, according to Pienaar.

Pienaar believes a key reason for the brand’s success was “believing in what I wanted to build from day one and not veering very far away from it.”

“Brands can get swept up by chasing trends or the next big shiny object and weaken their product assortment because your original brand value proposition gets diluted,” she said. “It’s very important to have a strong value promise on day one, and anchor on it so you won’t get lost.”

[Read: 5 Consumer Trends Businesses Should Know in 2022]

The company is self-funded, with no venture capital investment and has seen its sales grow by 300% since its launch, with sales online and in several retail chains around the world, according to Pienaar.

Build your brand so that it works both in-store and online — and in global markets, too

Pienaar said she knew from the beginning that she wanted to create a global brand, so she made sure her sunscreen products (sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter drug) secured the necessary government approvals before she launched it — not just from the FDA, but from similar agencies in Europe, the United Kingdom and Asia.

From the Target accelerator program, she learned the importance for direct-to-consumer brands to think ahead to eventual placement on store shelves. Retail shelves need product boxes to be certain dimensions so they don’t topple over and need to be designed for maximum shelf appeal with eye-catching colors, to stand out among dozens of other products.

Also, the boxes must clearly convey the brand message and value proposition. Unlike digital websites, in stores a brand doesn’t have “imagery or copy or influencers talking to you from the shelves,” Pienaar said. Therefore, information about environmental and safety certifications has to be conveyed effectively on the package.

[Read: Creating Customer Loyalty Requires Genuine Employee Fandom and Personalized Marketing, Brand Execs Say]

 Headshot of Charlotte Chen Pienaar, founder of Everyday Humans.
Charlotte Chen Pienaar, founder of Everyday Humans. — Everyday Humans

Fill a market need for retailers

Pienaar believes that Everyday Humans has been able to find its way into Target stores and other online and in-store channels, including J.C. Penney, Ulta Beauty and Sephora’s locations in Asia, because the brand fills a market demand that retailers are looking to fill.

That market need, Pienaar said, was for a sunscreen that addressed the demand for a product that works with multiple skin tones and that aligns with the values of Gen Z and millennial customers.
In creating her brand, Pienaar had Target in mind as a good fit for Everyday Humans.

“They’ve always been a pioneer in leading innovation and supporting minority-owned businesses and they’re really interested in sustainability, and we hit all the marks for them,” she said.

“I think the trajectory of growing our retail footprint in such a small amount of time has shown that we clearly identified and fulfill a market need for a multi-functional and earth friendly sunscreen,” Pienaar said.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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