Bubble’s Shai Eisenman on creating the Gen-Z beauty brand of the moment

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Bubble Skincare has been one of the most talked-about Gen-Z-focused beauty brands since launching in November 2020.

“My passion was always about creating brands that could emotionally connect to consumers,” said founder and CEO Shai Eisenman on the latest episode of the Glossy Beauty podcast. Eisenman began her entrepreneurial journey at just 21 years old.

Out of the gate, Bubble launched its affordable skin-care products with fun packaging through its own direct-to-consumer website, but in June 2021, it went big, launching in 3,900 Walmart stores. While Walmart was seemingly an unusual beauty retailer to partner with, Eisenman said that 42% of U.S. teens shop at Walmart once or twice a month for skin-care products. Since its debut, Bubble has seen week-over-week sales growth in Walmart, and Bubble has been a key pillar of the retailer’s larger beauty strategy.

Since the very beginning, Bubble has engaged with Gen Z; the company’s first focus groups were comprised of teens who provided feedback on the brand’s initial product lineup and formulations, as well as branding and marketing strategies. Eisenman engaged friends and family members’ teens in exchange for Sephora gift cards. Looking ahead, Bubble is focused on further customizing its product offerings to satisfy customers’ wants and needs. Additionally, the company is launching over-the-counter products which will enable it to steal more market share from heritage skin-care brands like Clearasil and Neutrogena.

​​Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Who is Gen Z?

“Gen Zers are the exact opposite [of millennials]. They’re all about affordability and great quality while delivering value. For them, it’s not about the image as much as it is about substance. You would never see a Gen Zer’s Instagram with all these perfect moments. It’s going to have photo dumps and show weird moments of them doing weird stuff. The average Gen Zer would probably have five Instagram accounts, so it’s very different behavior [than millennials]. They’re more authentic, inclusive and real than millennials.

The way they look at the world is also different. They are more educated about skin care because of Tik Tok and Instagram. It’s interesting because these pieces of content that they consume are making them so smart and educated, but at the same time, they lack the emotional and real-life experience and maturity to evaluate that. A lot of their behavior is the result of understanding so much, but not experiencing it themselves.”

Being selective about the right partner

“After our launch, we found ourselves at an interesting point. It was shocking to us because we launched DTC only and we assumed that nobody would hear about the brand in the first 12-24 months. Then suddenly, on day two, one of the largest retailers is reaching out to us. Then, on day four, a second huge retailer reached out to us. We had six different options within two weeks from launch.

We conducted research with 1,500 teens on an independent research platform because we wanted it to not be connected to Bubble. We wanted to understand where consumers in the age group were buying skincare. The results were crazy. Only 20% of [teens] shop for skin care online, 80% shop in stores, 58% shop in big-box retailers, and 42% physically go to Walmart one or two times a month. After seeing this data, [we said] Walmart is the right partner for us.”

A thoughtful product pipeline

“What is interesting about our products is that no SKU has more than 15% market share. It’s amazing to see that all of the SKUs are performing very well. We are all about a message of simplifying your routine. It’s all about either treating a certain concern that you have with your skin or it’s about specific skin types. For example, we know that some people can’t use a gel cleanser because it’s too drying for them. One of the things that we’re working on is a milky cleanser. We’re going to be releasing our first over-the-counter [acne] product soon. We have a lot of exciting over-the-counter products in the works and have a huge roadmap until 2024 with a lot of exciting clinical products.”

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