With a new look and a fleet of product and treatment launches, Australian Bodycare has undergone a complete rebrand during a time when many other professional product suppliers battened down the hatches and put their NPD on hold. For operations director Fiona Peerless, who took over the company’s UK division two years ago, the process has been challenging but, in some ways, quite timely.
“Taking over a brand and doing a relaunch while dealing with a pandemic and also Brexit has certainly been a lot,” she admits. “We’ve run a lot of video sessions to support salons with free refresher training during lockdown so we’ve explained the changes too, and people have really enjoyed getting together. Being able to show them something new and help get them excited about therapy again has been nice as well as it’s been such a tough time for everyone in the industry.”
The natural antiseptic and antibacterial properties of tea tree oil, which Australian Bodycare products are centred around, have also been in higher demand during the pandemic. “It feels like we’ve been banging the same drum for a long time about tea tree oil and its properties but people are very interested in it at the moment,” explains Peerless. “In the first lockdown, we couldn’t keep up production of our wash in line with demand. Our antiseptic wipes shot up too because the tea tree oil in them stays active on the skin. Then, when salons began to reopen, our Hy-Wax hygienic waxing system began to be at the front of people’s minds.”
Change of pace
Peerless led a management buyout of Australian Bodycare UK and distributor KLM in March 2019, having worked for the company for close to 20 years, beginning as an offi ce junior and working her way up through marketing, logistics and operations roles.
Since she took the reins, a key focus has been on repositioning the brand by developing new products and treatment protocols and modernising its image in the professional market.
“I think we’d lost our identity, to be completely honest. Some people thought of us as just a tea tree oil brand, some didn’t even know we had skincare or body products, while other people who had used our facial products didn’t always know we had waxing, so the rebrand was really done to bring it all together under one umbrella.”
Of course, implementing such major changes during the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t come without its challenges. The rebrand was meant to hit the market all in one go last year but, instead, a longer phased approach was taken to allow sell through of existing stock after coronavirus lockdown periods.
I think our industry is going to come out better from the pandemic than most because people are desperate for meaningful contact
The rebrand has seen the packaging change from the classic blue to a modern white look with ingredient illustrations, in a move that Peerless hopes will also help broaden its appeal among younger therapists. “I think we got complacent and assumed people knew about us because we’re Australian Bodycare and we’ve been around forever,” she says. “We can’t forget that the newer therapists need to learn about us.”
As well as a new look, the relaunch brought a series of treatment protocols. “Before the management buyout, we didn’t have protocols for a lot of our treatments. We just thought, ‘well everyone knows how to use our products in a facial, they don’t need the protocol written down’, but we’ve gone back to basics now and made it a lot more structured,” says Peerless. Product sizes have also increased to make them more accessible and profitable for pros.
New ranges to launch as part of the rebrand include hair treatment products for irritable scalp, hair loss and head lice; products for intimate hygiene; nail cure products for ingrown nails and fungal infections; hand and foot products; and men’s before- and after-shaving products.
“There’s been a lot of work done on building solutions to problems people face daily,” says Peerless. “Tea tree oil lends itself very well to all those things, and they are diverse but will fit into a treatment within the salon very easily.”
Existing products have also been reformulated to be vegan-friendly in response to changes in consumer buying habits, and the brand has goals this year to make its packaging more sustainable too.
“We changed our wipes last year to be biodegradable and we’re looking at different materials for our bottles,” says Peerless. “The beauty industry as a whole is quite late to the party when it comes to sustainability but it is an in-depth process,” she continues.
“I think it will be a big focus for the salon market this year with more awareness on how product disposables and PPE are impacting on the environment.”
Health and hygiene
Hygiene and safety is also set to be a top priority for salon clients this year and, in response, the brand is working on the launch of an accredited course for its Hy-Wax system.
“Hygiene in salons has always been important but now you almost have to show clients that you’re doing it so they know. That’s where the Hy-Wax course will come in, just really encouraging people to move across from the spatula to the individual applicators,” she says.
However, Peerless is aware that for many salons, hygiene has always been impeccable and suggests the ongoing Covid-19 lockdowns reflect a lack of understanding. “A lot of people were doing these online courses before reopening and when going through things like PPE, we were thinking ‘this seems too easy, are we missing something?’ because it was all normal practice for us,” she says. “It is difficult when the industry has been working so hard and so safely to be shut down again.”
Despite the inescapable challenges of the last year, however, Peerless is optimisitic about the future of the salon market and suggests that while the pandemic has accelerated existing problems for industries that were already in decline, it’s impact on beauty will be more temporary. “The high street was already struggling before the pandemic, but the areas that weren’t struggling were those where you have contact with people and a trusted person to give a personalised service,” she says.
“Things might change in that more people may go to salons in groups to make it more of a social experience, especially if we can’t travel just yet, but I think our industry is going to come out better from the pandemic than most because people are desperate for meaningful contact.” PB
1989 Danish-born Steen Jorsal comes across tea tree oil on a visit to Australia and decides to create products within the professional market
1992 Australian Bodycare is brought to the UK by fellow Dane Steen Jensen, and sold into salons as a professional brand
2000 Fiona Peerless begins working for Australian Bodycare UK as an offi ce junior and works her way up over the next 20 years
2002 Ken and Maggie Lamacraft (KLM) purchase Australian Bodycare UK
2012 Australian Bodycare launches its Hy-Wax system with hygienic application
2015 Peerless is made operations manager
2019 Peerless leads a management buyout of KLM, taking the reins as operations director for Australian Bodycare and spa brand Phytomer
2020 Begins roll out of Australian Bodycare rebrand, new products and treatment protocols