Clarisonic Skin Cleanser Cracks $40M in Sales on Kudos From Oprah and YouTube Beauty Queen

9/8/09Follow @xconomy

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it’s stretched longer distances. If Clarisonic could use sound waves within a short radius instead, gently jostling the skin with a brush rotating about 300 movements per second, the device could pop loose all the usual bacteria, oils, dirt, and dead skin cells that accumulate on the skin.

This action opens up pores, which improves the absorption of lotions into the skin, like sunscreen or moisturizer. Because this is a cosmetic device, not a medical device making claims that it can treat a condition like acne, it never needed to win approval from the FDA to enter the marketplace. Customers pay for it out of their pockets, so there’s also no need to hassle with insurance reimbursement.

Clarisonic has clearly put considerable thought into how to market the product — appealing to vanity while suggesting it has more substantial health benefits, without crossing the line and ticking off the FDA. “It’s a health-care product that delivers beauty,” is how McClain, the marketing director, put it.

I’ve never tested it myself, partly because I’m a guy. But one of my trusted former colleagues from The Seattle Times, Pam Sitt, once wrote, “My skin felt smooth as a baby’s bottom when I was done.”

The product didn’t cost a fortune to develop. Clarisonic got about $650,000 in seed funding during its first three years, mostly from Giuliani’s own pocket, according to this story in The Seattle Times when the company first surfaced in public in 2004. Since then, Clarisonic raised $10.5 million in April 2007 from San Francisco-based Rosewood Capital and angel investors. Giuliani wouldn’t say how much capital has been invested to date, or who the angels are, other than that a lot of them were the same people who made big returns on the sale of Sonicare, which had 600 employees and $175 million in reported revenues when it was sold in 2000.

“A lot of people who invested [in Clarisonic] were playing with the house’s money,” Giuliani says.

Clarisonic has added two new products to its lineup this year: one higher-end … Next Page »

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  • http://www.myspace.com/elenaz Elena Z

    oprah is 100% responsible and their marketing team,
    anyone else mentioned just jump on a band wagon as an opportunist

    The marketing budget was already done, anyone who adopted it is simply impressionable and actually wrong as the better product has already been identified

  • hmm

    i didn’t buy the clarisonic because of oprah, it was people like michelle who recommended it. oh and michelle came up with the electric toothbrush cleansing method way before clarisonic became a household staple. i dont think people like michelle is a band wagon opportunist. she is beyond a beauty guru.

  • Cornbiscut

    Michelle Phan is annoying and I watch her videos to find out what exactly not to buy.

  • Zella

    Not totally related but …

    Michelle’s cool but I don’t think she’s that great of a make up artist. She’s only up there because she’s been online for so long and a lot of people knows her. if she just started, her videos won’t be as popular as they are now.

    It’s great to see her grow though… I remember when she first started her make up videos and she was still using her fingers or those little wands that comes in packaging to apply all her shadows.

  • lina

    Michelle is a great artist. She’s working on the Michael Kors makeup for fashion week. The videos where she’s using those little wands were there to help basic people who had basic tools. Hence, Basic smoney eye video. Using fingers? Makeup artists uses fingers all the time, it warms up the foundation. She has come a long way, and not she’s finally getting creditials. I disagree, her videos are getting more and more popular. She’s the only guru on youtube that puts out more effort in editing. They’re like mini movies.

  • Pingback: What enabled Clarisonic to go Big Time surpassing $100M in Sales in the Beauty Market? « Wesley Brandon on Strategy