Our guest, Delaney Doria leads Brand and Product Development for a new skincare brand, Luma & Leaf. Delaney explains the creation of the brand – from an initial idea to market launch. We discuss the role of consumer research, ingredient selections, formulating, product naming, and packaging design. Delaney shares challenges COVID-19 presented, the quality assurance and testing procedures required for skincare products, and predicts how retail experiences will evolve.
Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:
Delaney Doria: Skincare is really confusing. The industry is flooded with so many brands and it’s really hard to know as a consumer, where to turn to, especially if you’re new to the world of clean beauty.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising, produced weekly by Bigeye. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of Insights at Bigeye. An audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency, we’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond. Thank you for joining us. In previous episodes of IN CLEAR FOCUS, we’ve looked at the growing interest in health and wellness, discussed the challenges of scaling direct-to-consumer brands, and examined the rise of cannabinoids, especially CBD, as ingredients in a diverse range of product categories. Today’s episode combines all three themes as we learn what goes into the launch of an entirely new skincare brand. The skincare category represents domestic sales somewhere in the region of $37 billion annually with a little over one-half of all adult consumers in the US using some form of skincare product on a daily basis. In the last few years, we’ve seen cannabinoids emerge as a popular ingredient in oils, creams, moisturizers, masks, and cleansers. And at the same time, more manufacturers have been developing products that meet consumers’ demand for “clean beauty”: products that have eliminated ingredients that are known to be carcinogens, hormone disruptors, irritants, and generally harmful to humans’ health. The biggest retailers in this space – Sephora and Ulta – enable shoppers to quickly sort and filter for clean ingredients on their websites. And almost one-quarter of US consumers, 23 percent, only purchase organic skincare products. Our guest today leads the brand and product development for Luma & Leaf, which is on a mission to deliver plant-powered, radiant beauty, without harmful ingredients. Delaney Doria has been with Luma & Leaf since the beginning of 2020, and previously held visual merchandising, e-commerce, and digital marketing roles with companies including Anthropologie, Guess?, FULLBEAUTY Brands, Parachute Home, and InstaNatural. Delaney, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!
Delaney Doria: Thanks for having me!
Adrian Tennant: You’re the Brand and Product Development Manager for Luma & Leaf. What does your role entail?
Delaney Doria: So my role definitely involves wearing many hats on any given day. I can work on campaign messaging, PR initiatives, content creation, influencer management, crafting product stories, and so much more. My main focus is to make sure the brand is well represented at every single touchpoint.
Adrian Tennant: Can you tell us more about the Luma & Leaf brand and the products that are currently available?
Delaney Doria: Sure. So Luma & Leaf leverages the best in clean, plant-powered active ingredients to provide gentle, effective, and uncomplicated solutions that restore skin to its most healthy and luminous state. Our debut line includes a brightening cleanser, a serum, a moisturizer, as well as a clearing serum, and a soothing moisturizer.
Adrian Tennant: Delaney you joined Luma & Leaf back in January 2020. What were the primary challenges facing you 18 months ago?
Delaney Doria: Luma & Leaf was really just an idea when I started, there was definitely an initial concept, but nothing was set in stone. I personally had never worked somewhere that didn’t have set standards or messaging. So in this case, the brand had to be established first. So it was truly working from the ground up, which was a really exciting and new challenge for me.
Adrian Tennant: How did you arrive at the name, Luma & Leaf?
Delaney Doria: We looked at the end results we wanted to achieve with the product, which was illuminated, healthy skin. Then we looked at how we’d maybe get to that end goal, which we knew was thoughtfully formulated botanical blends. So we combined that idea of bright illuminated skin with our plant-powered formulas, hence Luma & Leaf.
Adrian Tennant: Is plant-power a current skincare trend?
Delaney Doria: Definitely. Everyone is really just looking for a less harmful way to treat their skin. Vegan is definitely a big thing in the clean beauty market. So people are looking towards plants. It’s a natural alternative to a lot of these more harsh ingredients.
Adrian Tennant: Luma & Leaf’s brand mission is, and I quote, to “illuminate the skin-obsessed and skin-confused with clean products that make a difference on people and the world.” Now it’s a very inclusive message. How did you approach the development of the brand positioning?
Delaney Doria: We knew we wanted the messaging to be approachable and inclusive. Because skincare is really confusing. The industry is flooded with so many brands and it’s really hard to know as a consumer, where to turn to, especially if you’re new to the world of clean beauty. So we harness this confusion and our confusion, to be honest, into “simple skincare” for all messaging.
Adrian Tennant: Delaney, what’s your definition of clean beauty?
Delaney Doria: So clean beauty means a lot of things. It’s not always what you formulate without, it’s also what you formulate with. So we look to plant-powered solutions, but also sometimes synthetic ingredients that are not harmful. So it’s being able to understand what is okay for the skin and what is not. We look to clean beauty standards of a lot of trusted retailers, like Sephora, Whole Foods, Credo, and even what the EU bans as well. So it’s really aligning with that and not necessarily being all-natural, just finding that base.
Adrian Tennant: Just because something is natural doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not harmful.
Delaney Doria: Exactly.
Adrian Tennant: Right from the beginning, you were keen to take a science-backed approach to product development. How does that work in practice?
Delaney Doria: So definitely doing our research. It means looking at ingredients that are tried and true, innovative, clinically studied ingredients. But also sometimes creating our very own proprietary blends to really maximize those formulas.
Adrian Tennant: Last year, you and I collaborated on several consumer research studies, the results from which informed many of the decisions that you ultimately made about Luma & Leaf’s ingredients, product names, packaging, design, and pricing. Were there any findings arising from those studies that made you reconsider a previous decision, or maybe explore a different avenue?
Delaney Doria: We always found interesting results specifically when asking about product componentry. One example that we ran into was we found the majority of respondents preferred a glass bottle for their cleanser, which honestly we were hoping would be the outcome. But we just weren’t sure how it would survey as cleansers are sometimes used in the shower. And, we just weren’t sure how people would prefer that bottle to look.
Adrian Tennant: Insights from the primary research enabled us to develop buyer profiles – or Personas – for the kinds of customers that Luma & Leaf is designed to serve. In what kinds of ways, have you used those Personas during the brand development process?
Delaney Doria: So definitely use them every day and I still do use them, just knowing their preferences on ingredient stories, even collection colors, really went into each and every decision when developing the brand. We could really tailor the messaging to the audience and the platform, knowing this, which makes for a much more personalized user experience.
Adrian Tennant: Tell us a little bit about the three Personas.
Delaney Doria: We have Ashley, we acquaint her as the social activist. She’s 18 to 24. And she really values socially responsible brands, appreciates eco-friendly initiatives, and enjoys multifunctional products.
Adrian Tennant: Our second persona is Jessica.
Delaney Doria: Yeah. So she is a skincare enthusiast and she is 25 to 34. She’s a “canna-curious” beauty consumer, meaning she has maybe tried cannabis oil products but has not necessarily tried them in skincare. So she is the most curious to try it and the most willing to, because of her previous use. She also values products that simplify her life and appreciates brand responsiveness.
Adrian Tennant: And our third persona is?
Delaney Doria: Heather, who’s the value seeker. She’s 35 to 44 and she values word-of-mouth recommendations. She’s conscious of overall product value and she’s really loyal to brands and our specific products.
Adrian Tennant: Those Personas were developed from a segmentation from the quantitative studies that we undertook with consumers.
Delaney Doria: Yep.
Adrian Tennant: It’s great to understand what consumers are looking for in new skincare products, but it takes a lot to transform an idea into a real product. Delaney, can you explain the process of formulating a skincare product and what testing looks like?
Delaney Doria: Well, you’re right. It definitely takes a lot. But to sum it up the best I can, we start with research. So we determine what product is missing, or maybe what’s trending in the market. We then define the purpose and action of that product. And then we move to the ingredient story and what that might look like. From there, we moved to the sampling process, which first takes place with our formulator, and can go through many rounds to get it just right. And then we take it and repeat it with our co-manufacturer, which then again, needs to get it absolutely right and can take many tries. The sampling process, like I said, can be lengthy as it requires panel testing, which involves testing application, color, set, and feel. And we’ll go through that as many times as we need to until we feel a hundred percent about the product from there, even more testing happens with our manufacturer. It’ll go through rigorous testing like PET, RIPT, and stability before it’s ready for the market. So, stability determines the shelf life of a product. So it will be put in different environmental conditions to test that. PET determines if a product can withstand different types of contamination. So think your finger in the jar or heat, things like that, that can kind of get into the product. And then RIPT is a six-week-long panel that tests the product’s ability to irritate or sensitize the skin. And that’s something we do on all of our products to make sure that the product is in fact sensitive-safe, which is one of our core missions with the product.
Adrian Tennant: Well, I mentioned that you joined Luma & Leaf in January, 2020. In what ways did COVID-19 impact the brand and product development?
Delaney Doria: So I really only had about a month and a half before things were impacted. So definitely saw things impacted every step of the way. We experienced delays in componentry, shipments, and even had to switch vendors so we could move efficiently in development still. Although our launch timeline definitely was impacted, it allowed for more time to make smarter decisions in development.
Adrian Tennant: Even though the product wouldn’t ultimately be available until this spring, you started teasing Luma & Leaf on social last year, offering some really cool branded merchandise. How important is social media in the development of direct-to-consumer brands, would you say?
Delaney Doria: So, definitely important in any context, but of course, more so with direct-to-consumer brands. Not being sold in stores means less visibility for the brand so social media can really be used as a tool to tell your brand story and share the legitimacy of the product. All of that, of course, instills trust in the consumer, who then can confidently shop your product.
Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.
Seth Segura: I’m Seth Segura, VP and Creative Director at Bigeye. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as creative professionals. At Bigeye, we always put audiences first. For every engagement, we commit to really understanding our clients’ prospects and customers. Through our own primary research, we capture valuable data about people’s attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. These insights inform our strategy and guide our creative briefs. Clients see them brought to life in inspiring, imaginative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns. If you’d like to put Bigeye’s audience-focused creative communications to work for your brand, please contact us. Email email@example.com Bigeye. Reaching the Right People, in the Right Place, at the Right Time.
Adrian Tennant: If you’d like to try Luma & Leaf’s clean, plant-powered products, Delaney has arranged a special limited-time offer for IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners. To receive 10 percent off your purchase, enter the code INCLEARFOCUS – that’s all one word – at the checkout at lumaandleaf.com. And in case you missed it, I’ll repeat this info at the end of the episode.
Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Delaney Doria, Brand and Product Development Manager for the new skincare brand Luma & Leaf, which was developed in collaboration with Bigeye’s creative team. Delaney, he has that close working relationship influenced brand development in ways that were unexpected or maybe unanticipated?
Delaney Doria: Definitely. So partnering with the creative team meant I was working with expert designers. So it really allowed us to approach the packaging and website and more in a more thoughtful and informed way. So oftentimes that meant going into a project with one idea and leaving with a million more ideas that could really push it that much further.
Adrian Tennant: Had you ever worked in a place where you had such direct access to the creative team?
Delaney Doria: I’ve never worked that closely with a team like that. All of my teams have been on the smaller side or there were degrees of separation in between. So it’s definitely been a really nice resource to have.
Adrian Tennant: What are some of the differences between directing photoshoots for home goods, for example, versus beauty and skincare products?
Delaney Doria: So definitely a difference. In the home space with Parachute, it was really making the space livable from a visual merchandising perspective – so needed to be presentable at any moment someone came in the store and walked in. For skincare, you really have to make the photo tell the story, especially for direct-to-consumer, because we’re not physically in front of them at this point. So you really have to kind of take a small photo and make every inch of it feel engaging and impactful. Where when you’re in a home space, you have the whole environment that can have, you know, the senses attached to it, smell, all of that. So it’s definitely a different experience and you have to think of different things.
Adrian Tennant: How do you feel about using video?
Delaney Doria: Video’s actually been new to me. I had never done it before in any shoots. So it’s definitely really exciting when you’re able to do that and really engage with the consumer through, you know, use of product or lifestyle footage and B roll and whatnot.
Adrian Tennant: So Delaney, one of the things that I think differentiates Luma & Leaf is the very interesting use of colors and the visual style. Can you tell us something about how those originated?
Delaney Doria: Sure. So the patterns and the colors are definitely my favorite part about the brand. And really that came too, when we were developing the brand story. it was plant-powered, it was bright, it was illuminating. And we wanted to show that on the actual labels and product bottles. So we were inspired by Henry Matisse’s later work of botanicals and more organic and raw illustrations of it. And we took that and really kind of ran with it. And we knew we wanted something bright, playful, and that really inspired us. So on all of our products, they actually feature the ingredients that are within the formulas. They might be a little abstracted in some way, but they’re on there. And we separated our collections by these patterns. So for illuminating, which is our brightening for dull and dehydrated skin line, it’s an orange-based pattern, with brightening ingredients on top of it. Then for clearing, it’s for blemishes and uneven texture, so we have ingredients that can help fight that. Then we also have our soothing collection, so it’s this beautiful purple and it has soothing ingredients illustrated on top of it. So having these really strong patterns really helped define us and define our collections to make it easier for the consumer to shop.
Adrian Tennant: The names of products – which obviously is something we put through consumer testing – were you surprised by how that developed over time?
Delaney Doria: Yeah, we definitely started one way and went a million different ways as we were trying to figure out our voice. We ultimately landed on straightforward names, but still having a little bit of fun with it. So we have our Afterglow Serum because that serum gives you that glow, that afterglow, that you’re looking for. we’ll have a Golden Hour Mist that comes out next year. And that one is just kind of that glow you love from golden hour of being able to kind of feel that and apply that to your face as well.
Adrian Tennant: What has been the most surprising thing about developing Luma and leaf sprang so far?
Delaney Doria: So surprising is definitely how much it takes. Like we kinda talked about earlier, it’s new to kind of work on something from the ground up and not have something to reference back to in terms of like set standards and messaging. So it was really been surprising to learn results from our consumer research that we did and really let them help guide the story.
Adrian Tennant: Well, the Luma & Leaf website launched about a month ago. What kind of response are you seeing from customers?
Delaney Doria: So the response has been really positive. Every day we hear feedback on how beautiful the packaging is, which has been really great. And users have really loved our website and how easy it is to shop.
Adrian Tennant: So one of the adjacent trends to clean beauty has been an interest in sustainable packaging and the recyclability of product containers. I know that’s something you’ve paid very close attention to at Luma & Leaf, right?
Delaney Doria: Definitely. I mean, when we started, we knew we wanted the packaging and the bottles to be beautiful, that you’d want to keep it on your counter, like a piece of art. you know, using these beautiful patterns that we talked about before. So for us, that was using beautiful glass bottles that had very limited text and were intentionally tucked away so you could display them on your counter. That kind of led way to the idea of why toss it when you’re done, if it is so beautiful. So, really taking, you know, this bottle and giving it new life by emptying it out, cleaning it out when it’s done, and using as a bud vase, succulent pot, cotton swab holder, any of those things, and really being able to upcycle your product. Otherwise, you can always recycle, but it really gives your kind of product new life and can be a new art piece on your counter.
Adrian Tennant: Delaney, you have a degree in fashion merchandising. What led you to your current position in brand marketing and product development?
Delaney Doria: So definitely a long story, but what really kicked it all off was in college in Philadelphia, I was doing a display and merchandising internship at Anthropologie, which was actually their first-ever store location. And I really fell in love with curating product stories. That internship ended up lasting a few semesters all through college, and then eventually led to being promoted to a visual merchandiser, which actually took place in Beverly Hills, California. So I moved across country. From there, I took those skills to e-commerce merchandising with Guess Jeans which was also in Los Angeles. And then eventually, back to New York, to FULLBEAUTY Brands. So just hopped back and forth a bit. From there, while in New York, I moved to Parachute Home as the visual manager and at the time they had only two stores and were looking to open shop in New York City. They were a direct-to-consumer brand. They still are. They have many stores, but I was brought on specifically to open their Soho, New York city location from the ground up and really develop an at-home experience for their consumers. From there that all led me to Florida with my previous job as a digital marketing manager for a local skincare brand, where I art-directed photoshoots and managed e-commerce and social channels. And then all of that led me to my current role with Luma & Leaf.
Adrian Tennant: What skills from your previous experiences in visual merchandising and e-commerce have been the most applicable to your role at Luma & Leaf?
Delaney Doria: Definitely being able to understand an audience and being able to tailor a product or brand story to them. being able to build something from the ground up. And being well-versed in e-commerce platforms that can help run a business. All of these collected skills and the many hats I’ve worn have definitely prepared me in developing the brand.
Adrian Tennant: How do you use the Shopify platform prior to Lamborghini?
Delaney Doria: Yes, so I used it at the past two jobs at Parachute setting up a point of sale for their store. And then as well at the skincare company, I was at prior.
Adrian Tennant: Now, as we mentioned, you’ve worked in Philadelphia, New York, and Beverly Hills – very swanky! I’m guessing that you find the pace of life in Orlando just a little different. What, if anything, do you miss about New York or LA?
Delaney Doria: So it’s definitely different and when I lived in New York City, I actually found the hustle and bustle to be so stressful, but lately I’ve definitely been missing it. So really excited that travel has opened up so I can visit again.
Adrian Tennant: Thinking about your experience in direct-to-consumer marketing, e-commerce, and now product development – in the future, how important do you think independent brands’ relationships with brick and mortar retail stores will be?
Delaney Doria: I really love in-person brand experiences, as you can probably tell. So I really hope it doesn’t ever go away. And I do think people always crave seeing products in person, being able to touch and feel it. So what’s important, I guess, is adapting. which could mean creating more engaging and purposeful spaces, or maybe even just aligning with a destination retailer, so you can be easily accessible to your consumer.
Adrian Tennant: Who’s doing a really good job of that right now?
Delaney Doria: Honestly, I’ll tie it back to my roots with Parachute Home. They made almost like a living experience in their stores. So there was a living room, there was a kitchen, and we invited the consumers to come in and stay awhile, which I think is really important, especially with materials like home goods, you want to touch it, you want to feel it, you want to envision it in your space. So that to me is a very, purposeful space.
Adrian Tennant: How do you see retail experiences, especially in beauty and skincare, developing over the next few years?
Delaney Doria: For in-store, I think we’re going to see consumers really rely on retailers like Target, to ease their shopping experience. So being able to get your home goods, your groceries, your clothing, and skincare, all in one stop. I think is going to be really important. I think consumers will expect them to build out their skincare assortments much more so they can actually do so. And to be honest, we’re already really seeing that with the expansion of Target’s clean beauty section, and also their future partnership with Ulta.
Adrian Tennant: Delaney, what’s on the horizon for Luma & Leaf for the rest of 2021 and beyond?
Delaney Doria: So we definitely have a lot in the works. We’ll be launching a pro-aging collection later this year. That will be a mask and a moisturizer and those products are amazing. I really can’t wait for those to launch. And we will also be expanding our clearing, soothing, and illuminating collections next year.
Adrian Tennant: Delaney, if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about Luma & Leaf, where can they find you?
Delaney Doria: So lumaandleaf.com is a great resource for learning more about our products. On here, you’ll also be able to find our blog, The Greenery, where we run through skincare education, tips, and tricks. You can check us out on Instagram @lumaandleaf, where we are building a community that inspires skin-positive conversation. And listeners, you can receive 10 percent off your order with a limited-time promo code INCLEARFOCUS. Happy shopping!
Adrian Tennant: Delaney, thank you very much for that offer and for being our guest this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS!
Delaney Doria: Thanks for having me!
Adrian Tennant: Next time on IN CLEAR FOCUS, we’ll have an interview with Melina Palmer, host of The Brainy Business podcast and author of the new book, What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You. That’s next week on IN CLEAR FOCUS. Thanks to my guest this week, Delaney Doria. You’ll also find a transcript of our conversation on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com under “Insights”. Just click on the button marked “Podcast”. And if you’d like to ask about something you heard, have suggestions for a guest, or a topic you’d like us to cover, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.