Merle Norman is a family owned and operated cosmetic producer founded in 1931 by Merle Nethercutt Norman. Since then, Merle Norman’s vision has expanded to over 1,000 retail locations throughout the US and Canada. Each independently owned location gives their customers a unique and leisurely experience inspiring them to be the best version of themselves, with exceptional products ranging from skincare, to cosmetics along with indulgent Studio offerings.
As the outbreak of COVID-19 began to sweep the country, Merle Norman and their executive and family member, Travis Richards, were determined to adjust their current eCommerce strategy to fit an imminent need, hand sanitizer. In order to get this solution off the ground, there were a few barriers that needed to be overcome, including; the solution itself, a revised technology landscape to fit their new offering, product packaging, branding and finally FDA approval. In addition, it was critical that Merle Norman consider the well-being of their loyal employees throughout the entirety of this process. This included following CDC guidelines and taking all necessary precautions outlined by the US Government. It’s important to note, this wasn’t Merle Norman’s first time assisting in a national crisis. In WWII, the brand manufactured machine gun oil and camouflage sticks for the US Government – being called to duty and helping is in their heritage.
After careful consideration, Merle Norman’s team of chemists determined an ideal solution to fit the needs and requirements of their clientele. The final product, which is distributed in a sprayable container is a 75% isopropyl alcohol and 80% ethanol alcohol-based fragrance-free lightweight liquid and is approved by the World Health Organization. The product is available in a convenient 6 oz and 3.4 oz size.
As long-term partners of BORN Group and Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC), the brand worked closely with the agency to revise their digital landscape to meet this new initiative, under a tight timeline. It was critical that their digital solution not only be scalable to accommodate the amount of intended traffic but flexible enough to make minor adjustments to their product inventory and shipping restrictions, all on the fly. ‘[We] were very impressed with BORN’s integration and our ability to work together seamlessly, the results truly speak for themselves,’ adds Jose Escobar, eCommerce Lead at Merle Norman. The teams worked closely and were ultimately able to create a stack that fit their business needs.
The ‘Helping Hands’ initiative was launched by Merle Norman just 3 weeks after inception. With minimum branding and PR associated with the rollout, Merle Norman hosted a banner across their homepage along with a post to social media. Almost immediately, the brand saw a surge in orders of their new product attracting first-time visitors and loyal fans alike. With this success the brand had to create a limitation of purchases per one single user to prevent hoarding and overselling of the merchandise. All in all, the launch of hand sanitizer for the Merle Norman brand was not only beneficial to their business but to the thousands of franchisees who have been forced to close their doors during this time. ‘The addition of hand sanitizers gave our family of franchisees an opportunity to reach out to their local community and spread the word of our new solution,’ adds Travis Richards. With the production and distribution of hand sanitizer, Merle Norman was able to not only share their protective solution with individuals across the country during this high-risk time, but simultaneously protect their family-owned business and the thousands of franchisees and employees who rely on their business.
Since the launch of Merle Norman’s hand sanitizer, the product has found a new niche in commercial accounts. Merle Norman’s product provides clients with a consistent superior formula in branded packaging all manufactured locally in Merle Normans location in California. Richards adds, ‘These past few weeks have been crazy for us all, the reception of the hand sanitizer, especially in the sprayable format has been epic. Doctors especially are fawning over this product because of its performance and other applications. The spray is more potent than all the others and doesn’t leave snail trails all over everything and it’s used on surfaces where regular mass gels would never be used- it’s exciting, I’ll never go back to a gel personally!’
BORN Group: Connecting creative, content and commerce, BORN Group is an award-winning, global agency that helps brands with digital transformation. BORN is a Tech Mahindra company [www.techmahindra.com]. The group operates in 90 countries employing 131,000 staff speaking 18 languages. The company produces unique brand experiences by connecting ten specialisms that serve as the foundation of the digital economy: creative design, content production, commerce enablement, conversions (visitors to customers), cloud technology, cognition (analytics), cohesion (integrating all the systems), consulting and completeness (connecting brand experiences) across all channels.