D.uring a recent trip to New York City, Matthew Malin was browsing Instagram when he stumbled upon a new celebrity-backed skincare brand. He read the description aloud to his partner in life and business, Andrew Goetz.
“‘Clean, simple, minimalist, gender neutral,'” I told Andrew. “Well, that sounds familiar.” The packaging also looked similar to theirs.
It’s a common exchange the two have had since founding Malin + Goetz 18 years ago, but the conversation has become more frequent over the past five with the explosion of the $ 134 billion global skin care market, a fueled sector. the growing demand for clean products and inclusive beauty.
“Gender-free” is the latest beauty movement, a by-product of unisex fashion. And, of course, it appeals to an important market for Malin + Goetz, Generation Z. In 2019, 56% of Gen Z shopped outside of their gender, according to marketing agency Wunderman Thompson. In a 2020 poll, Vice Media found that 41% of Gen Z identify as neutral on the gender spectrum.
“We started as gender neutral from day one,” says Goetz. “It took a long time for people to understand us, but they caught on.” Co-founders recall launching their brand to bewildered shoppers in department stores.
“At Nordstrom we have always been available in both the men’s and women’s wards. There has never been a navigation on our website that separates men from women, “says Brad Horowitz, CEO of Malin + Goetz.” We don’t scream genderless beauty. That’s who we are. “
The wave of new competition isn’t impacting sales, says Malin, who notes that the spike in Internet searches for “genderless beauty” has only drawn new customers to the brand. “Startups were spending tons on gender-neutral marketing and we benefited from the marketing influx associated with these brands.”
Before the Covid epidemic, the company was growing revenues by approximately 22% year-over-year. In 2021 Malin + Goetz increased 30% to nearly $ 50 million in annual revenue, despite growing competition and the pandemic that shut down retailers and its profitable hotel services business.
“It certainly validates what we did in the beginning,” says Goetz, a former executive at a Swiss design manufacturer. “The whole industry was based on very baroque, highly decorated packaging, with multiple steps, multiple protocols. We did the opposite with regards to formulas and packaging ”.
Calvin Klein was the first to popularize unisex fragrances with the debut of CK One in 1994. Malin + Goetz pioneered the concept in natural skincare when it launched a decade later with earthy, “non-floral” notes like leather. , sage and eucalyptus. It now sells body care products, hair products, deodorants, candles, fragrances and more. “Malin & Goetz has led the way with a curated body care system that is modern, minimal and universal,” says Leslie Ghize, EVP at Doneger Tobe. “Like Virgil Abloh, Kanye West and Heron Preston in fashion, they have come close to building their brand in a way that makes sense to them and have gone against industry norms.”
“We had no money 18 years ago, so we had to be creative in a highly competitive industry,” said Malin, former sales executive at Kiehl’s, Prada beauty and Helmut Lang Parfums. “The only way to do that was to fill a void.”
They opened a shop in Chelsea, then made their way into luxury department stores including Saks and Nordstrom. But it was their hotel services program that played a key role in building brand recognition. It started when a travel reporter introduced Malin + Goetz products to owners of a new minimalist boutique hotel in Mexico City, which originally offered Hermès toiletries.
“He told them the toiletries did not match the natural look of their hotel. They needed a fresher brand and sent them to us, “said Goetz. After just one year in business, Malin + Goetz had to quickly build a service program.
Horowitz says the unisex nature of their perfumes was ideal for hotels that cater to guests of all genders. “The service channel soon pushed us into the genderless space and after 17 years, [genderless] is in the center “. Horowitz continues: “The services were important [Malin and Goetz] ever since it was a young brand that was trying to scale and put its products in people’s hands “.
“We had to figure out how to get into more hotels,” says Goetz. “Not necessarily the most expensive, but the right design-focused hotels.”
In 2007 they entered both the Soho and the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Ten years ago, their services expanded globally thanks to their partnership with Ennismore, a London-based hospitality company that owns 90 chic hotels, restaurants and co-working sites, from SLS in South Beach to Gleneagles in Scotland.
“It’s great brand awareness because [customers] he would have already had a moment with us at the hotel, ”says Malin. “Whether they are traveling for business or pleasure, their guard is off when they check in and it’s a time to relax.” To date, more than 600 hotels, spas, fitness centers and restaurants around the world offer Malin + Goetz.
Hotel partnerships also inform the brick and mortar strategy. Instead of opening hundreds of stores, Malin + Goetz has taken a less is more approach with only 14 pharmacies within walking distance of hotels. They plan to open five more by the end of the year with an emphasis on overseas. Since 2018, the company has opened new distribution points in Berlin, Singapore, Taiwan, Milan, France and soon Shanghai and Xi’an in June.
“We want exposure in more markets, but we don’t need to be everywhere, just in the right places,” says Malin. “This is how we grow without losing what is special.”