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from being in those high-end retail shops full of affluent consumers, but it has thrived in part by going up and down in the market with three distinct product segments. Its original product, now called Clarisonic Classic, retails for $195. But the company has diversified its lineup by adding an entry-level product it calls Clarisonic Mia for $149 (which comes in nine different colors). Then there’s a top-of-the-line Clarisonic Plus for the face and body at $225. The low-priced model, the Mia, is now Clarisonic’s top-selling product, Gallagher says.
The company has done all this in a nondescript light-industrial area of Bellevue’s Factoria neighborhood. Clarisonic does all of its manufacturing locally, and plans to continue to do so, although it has grown so fast that it is “bursting at the seams” and looking for more room to grow on the Eastside, Gallagher says.
Getting to the next level, and making this company a true household name probably be even harder than reaching its first $100 million in sales. Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) is now aggressively pushing a tool it calls Olay Professional Pro-X, which sells for $29.99. My wife ripped out an ad the other day from Real Simple magazine—isn’t she helpful?—in which P&G’s ad touts “a revolution in cleansing” that is “as effective as the system sold by skin professionals for nearly $200.”
When you look at the fine print of the P&G ad, it says “it took a team of dermatologists along with Olay to design this instrument that delivers supersonic cleansing.” The marketers add: “The Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System sets your skin up for supersonic anti-aging moisturization.”
Clarisonic is undoubtedly the company being referenced in that ad. So I made sure to ask Gallagher if his rival is really using sonic wave technology that competes directly with Clarisonic. He had a terse reply.
“It’s a rotating device. Technology was invented back in the 1960s,” he says.
Given the still shaky state of the economy, I’d definitely be on high alert if I was a small company with a $149 device that was being challenged by a $29 tool pushed by a Fortune 500 consumer products power. Then again, Clarisonic is the first mover in the category, has hard-core evangelists on its side, and a management team that has already hit a home run by opening up a new kind of product category with sonic wave technology.
The opportunity is certainly there for Clarisonic to go public, with more than $100 million in revenue and a profitable income statement. But it doesn’t really need the extra cash, Gallagher says. The company, without any VCs pounding the table demanding a return on their money, isn’t in any rush to storm the IPO gates, he says.
“We’re very focused. We’ve very driven. We spend our time working on the business, focused on our customers. With our growth being what it is, we’re enjoying that,” Gallagher says. But it shouldn’t be a big surprise if Clarisonic makes some big business news in the not so distant future. “We are a privately held company, so at some point we have to monetize the investment for our investors,” Gallagher says.
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