NBCUniversal and Volition Beauty sign multi-year deal to co-create products

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This article was reported on — and first published by — Digiday sibling Glossy.

Volition, the crowd-sourced beauty brand, has partnered with NBCUniversal Television and Streaming to co-create products with NBCUniversal talent, opening up a new beauty industry opportunity for influencer- and celebrity-backed products.

The deal, announced Monday, is an undisclosed multi-year agreement with no set cadence for product development. The first product, launched on Nov. 12, is a Yaupon Tea Glow-Awakening Moisturizer, co-developed by Maryse Mizanin, a WWE wrestler and star of USA Network’s “Miz & Mrs” reality show. She has 1.3 million Instagram followers. The next, undisclosed product will launch in the second quarter of 2021. Volition, which sells products through retailers like Sephora and Anthropologie, declined to share its revenue or growth figures. But it has raised $9.35 million in outside capital, according to Pitchbook, including from Unilever Ventures.

Under traditional circumstances, beauty brands enlist influencers or celebrities to act as spokespeople or makeup collaborators; more recently, influencers have expanded outside of makeup collaborations. Celebrity-founded beauty brands have also grown in popularity over the last five years. Volition and NBCUniversal’s partnership represents a third methodology for leveraging the fame and influence of people, specifically those who exist somewhere in between an influencer and mainstream celebrity.

“In the past, you had to be a dermatologist or have a certain high profile to launch a brand. What we’re seeing now is that there is an opportunity for different types of people to create products,” said Brandy Hoffman, Volition Beauty co-founder and COO. “What NBCU’s partnership with Volition is, is an evolution of what we’ve been doing, but it allows us to have a larger platform to tell that story.”

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Over the past three years, Volition has received over 4,000 product ideas from individuals submitting them through VolitionBeauty.com. It has a digital and social reach of 550,000 people. Volition first identifies viable submission ideas, before working with chemists to develop concepts and post products for voting campaigns on its website. But on the backend, Volition has built out a proprietary software system called Pyxis (named after the urns used to store cosmetics in Ancient Greece) that analyzes buying patterns, sorts solicited product ideas and recommends whitespace opportunities for both Volition and corporate partnerships.

This is the first time that NBCUniversal has leveraged its roster of talent to be product collaborators in the beauty industry. But NBCUniversal owns a plethora of channels, like E!, USA Network and Bravo, which have jumpstarted the careers of Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Bethenny Frankel of the “Real Housewives” franchise, who have gone on to successful brand ventures. Therefore, ingratiating itself into the entrepreneurial portion of any burgeoning star’s career could prove a windfall for NBCUniversal.

Volition and NBCUniversal declined to detail terms of their deal or Mizanin’s stake in it. Typically, Volition offers co-creators a share of revenue, but Hoffman and Patricia Santos, Volition Beauty CEO, both declined to state the percentage. The New York Times reported in 2019 that some Volition collaborators expected to earn $30,00-$100,000 from their co-creations, depending on the sales performance of the product. The new moisturizer will be DTC-only through Volition’s e-commerce site, before launching on Sephora.com and in Neiman Marcus in January.

Marketing is a joint responsibility between Volition and NBCUniversal, with three episodes of “Miz & Mrs” set to feature Mizanin’s process of co-creation with Volition in December. Over the next two months, Volition will gift the product to its influencer network, manage online marketing and work with retail partners for in-store signage and education.

“This partnership with Volition will not only deepen our engagement with consumers but it will also allow our talent to authentically introduce products to their passionate fanbase,” said Ellen Stone, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming executive vp of cable brand strategy and consumer engagement.

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