Thoughts on the Facial Cleansing Market from our CEO

by Chloe Beveridge

Skønhed • 23 July 2018

A Deep Pore Cleanse is Needed... A post from our CEO, Laurence Newman.

If there is one area I am asked about more than any other, it is the facial cleansing market. As official Clarisonic stockists since their pre L’Oreal days I have some qualification in understanding an area of beauty that ideally requires a high-speed deep pore cleanse itself!

L’Oreal obviously feel the same, and are doing their talking in the law courts - recently launching 18 independent cases against devices they feel are infringing on the 40+ patents they have on their groundbreaking devices.

In Australia they are battling an imitation device called Purasonic. I have one of these identical looking copies sat on my desk. In 2011 they won a reported $11.7m in damages from Nutraluxe (Nutrasonic) so I would suggest they know their international patent law reasonably well.

Of course, their success breeds an inevitable influx of knock-off products, but my own concern as CEO of CURRENTBODY is with the UK consumer and the effect the muddying water is having on them.

With the UK still only making up about 12% of all global cleansing devices sold, it remains the case that Clarisonic - whilst clear pioneer and leader - has some way to go to really educate the UK into why it rightly holds this position. That education remains the key to fully unlocking the door to the similar success it has had in the US and more recently in Asia.

Whilst Purasonic (or Nutrasonic or Anymadeupsonic) likely took a month, and a few thousand $ to copy in Guangzhou after an opportunist trip to the Canton fair in China, Clarisonic took over 3 years and millions of dollars of research. It required a vision that stemmed from the massive success of the Sonicare toothrush, and a team of brilliant scientists.

When L’Oreal - the World’s largest skincare company - bought the Clarisonic creator Pacific Bioscience Laboratories Inc in 2011, they knew that the future of skincare had a cutting edge technological twist and that they had to be part of it. What they were buying was a device with rock solid clinical, safety and efficacy that has sold 10 million units since 2004 - not just through prestigious retailers and luxury spas, but importantly dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons. It was those medical professionals particularly that provided the platform for its acceptance.

What sets the Clarisonic apart from copy products is its patented sonic oscillation technology.

Just a little on how this works: The 300+ micro movements per second are the optimum sonic frequency to deliver brush movement that massages the dirt, oil and make-up from your pores. When these impurities are removed the skin feels softer and smoother and becomes healthier and more radiant.

As for the numerous devices that will keep Clarisonic’s lawyers busy, well they don’t do this.

They are in effect a brush on a stick that rotates. There is a video that demonstrates this difference, if you put the Clarisonic in water you can see small ripples from the oscillation. Put a copy device in and the water is dispersed fairly violently.

I won’t become a salesman and write about 90 day money back security on Clarisonics as opposed to cheap units that break after a few usages, but you get the picture - don’t be fooled.

The conundrum of retail is that having a dedicated expert on stand to explain the above is not commercially viable, at least consistently and in significant numbers. This is leaving the consumer open to be price driven and persuaded by a similar shaped handle.

Online even more so, with not only similar shaped hand pieces but actual Clarisonic copies complete with fake website and logo as you would see a Louis Vuitton bag seller on the beaches of the Costas. With online becoming our preferred choice for information and shopping every week, we are regularly asked on social media to verify a purchase for an unsuspecting consumer who thought they had a bargain.

When the market has the real knowledge that for true sonic cleansing there really are only a couple of considerations, this is less of an issue. I would bet that if I stepped out of my office now onto the affluent Wilmslow high street with a bestselling Clarisonic Mia 2 device, only 2 or 3 in ten passers-by would recognise it.

There lies the issue for me, an influx of imitations before Clarisonic has truly had its UK ‘Hoover’ moment.

For the purpose of balance, there are some devices that can be considered true competition; they have taken on Clarisonic in a different but if you like in a fair way.

Foreo, made of silicon without the need for replacement heads is one such innovative thinking company making serious inroads worldwide. Beauty giants Clinique - whilst it is obvious this is a vibrating brush - have cleverly packaged it alongside their other popular skin care products and daily routine advice.

As for the others that may claim to be doing something slightly different to avoid a patent battle themselves, let’s not try to cover this up - they are copies riding the wave of a cleansing device boom and in some cases they are a risk to put on your face.

Check warranties and money back guarantees. Check trial periods and clinical studies. My guess is that unlike Clarisonic, they won’t have.

So what does the future hold for facial cleansing in the UK?

Well contrary to some reports, I think the outlook is still very bright. Whilst miniaturised devices for hair removal, anti ageing and microdermabrasion are buzzing, facial cleansing is far from saturated.

What is clearly required is more workshops, events, online information, videos, blogs, customer stories, retail point of sale advice and information as well as some further governance on the patents infringed by the piggy backers.

Importantly, it will take some high profile beauty journalists to not be swayed by sponsorship and finally tell the facial cleansing brush story how it actually is for the good of their confused audience. Far too many have hidden behind a bargain price claiming a £39 unit can get you the same results as a £120 device.

Let me tell you - they can’t, and if they do initially, they will likely break before your 90 day Clarisonic trial has expired.

Once again for some balance, Clarisonic isn’t for everyone’s skin and it does have some knockers out there, some of them high profile - that is fine and expected with any skin care product, but if it is a true original sonic facial cleanser that you want, then there really is far less choice than you may think.

As a company that is a pure player in home use beauty devices I see facial cleansing as often the consumer’s first ever foray into this exciting new world of beauty innovation – the skin care device category. It is key to market development that the notoriously sceptical British public is not put off at first base.

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