Beauty junkies get their fix

Cake Beauty increases sales by 42% in its second year

For health-and-beauty marketers, the beauty junkie is a coveted demographic, but there comes a time when even the most devoted product addicts become bored with the current retail offerings.

Such was the case with self-professed beauty-product junkies Heather Reier and Rosanne Naudi, so they decided to tap into this insight when they launched Cake Beauty in August 2001. The result is a rich assortment of exotic creams, scrubs and suds that espouse a lifestyle of indulgence and sound more like dessert than body-care products.

Two years after the launch of Cake – with the help of PR, packaging, a targeted retail strategy, and the recent introduction of an online beauty magazine called Sugar – Toronto-based Reier and Naudi have created a global beauty brand, with sales up 42% over their first year. The products are now sold in 72 boutiques and department stores across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., and are also available from nine beauty e-commerce sites, as well as from the company’s own Web site (

The duo developed Cake Beauty literally from scratch in Naudi’s kitchen in Kitchener, Ont., testing out combinations of luxurious ingredients such as shea butter and calendula oils.

To land the brand in upscale retail environments such as Caban and Holt Renfrew in Canada, Reier and Naudi compiled a database of desirable buyers and owners of stores, and sent them boxed product samples with gift cards signed by the founders, along with personalized letters that told the Cake story – positioning it as a high-quality, homegrown Canadian beauty brand that comes with stylish packaging.

‘We really portrayed what the brand was all about and why they needed it in their stores,’ says Reier. ‘We heard from [the stores] that they loved our whole approach – the name, the packages, the boxes of Cake, and the high-quality element.’

The packaging, created by Toronto-based graphic design house Hot Sos, which also worked on Cake’s logo and Web site, is integral to the brand’s marketing strategy, since its target demographic of 25- to 45-year-old beauty junkies care not only about what product they put on their bodies, but also how that product looks sitting on their bathroom shelves.

It consists of a distinctive white-and-pink label with copy inviting the consumer to indulge. For instance, Cake’s Crème de la Crème Supreme Body Mousse – which includes essences of vanilla, Canadian maple and mango butter – reads: ‘Surrender yourself to this addiction-worthy skin food.’

As well, all products carry the ‘Cake Girl’ logo, which is a stylized, ‘woman-on-the-go’ figure. ‘The Cake Girl embodies who we are,’ says Reier. ‘It’s simple, with an element of whimsy and style.’

Meanwhile, PR was key in creating word-of-mouth and media coverage of the Cake Beauty brand. Reier and Naudi do all of their own public relations, with the help of a small staff in Toronto. Press kits were sent out at the initial launch and this continues to be the strategy for the brand.

The Canadian media has been especially good to Cake, as the company receives regular mentions in Flare, Toronto Life, Fashion and The Globe and Mail, which Reier attributes to Cake’s quirky, homegrown business story.

The brand is currently doing an aggressive media blitz to target American fashion and beauty magazines. Reier says it helps that Cake has some high-powered champions in its corner, in the form of celebrities such as Bridget Fonda and Kate Hudson, which helps spur editorial coverage. (Reier and Naudi met with Hudson last summer, arranged through a mutual friend.)

To further create a personality behind the Cake brand, Reier and Naudi (who also call themselves the Cake Girls) recently launched Sugar magazine, which is available from the company’s Web site and is also e-mailed to 8,500 people who have signed up to the Cake online mailing list.

Reier says Sugar was created as a way to communicate with their customers and to give insight into the Girls’ own experiences. The magazine focuses on beauty and lifestyle tips and stories, and currently there is a contest running in which entrants can win Cake goodies.

Explains Reier: ‘The more [consumers] can relate to us and appreciate our story, the more buzz we can generate about the brand and further differentiate from our competitors.’ So far response has been positive; since Sugar launched in mid-July, 10,000 consumers have viewed the magazine.

The Cake Girls appeared on the cover of the first issue of Sugar, which was also part and parcel of weaving themselves into the brand. ‘We try to personify ourselves through [Cake],’ says Reier. ‘We want to convey the message that we get you.’