Clinique Puts a Trendy Twist on a Beloved Product: Personalization

With Clinique iD, the beauty brand experiments with letting people customize its best-selling Dramatically Different moisturizer line

Clinique's new line of customizable Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotions debuted last month.
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Clinique launched its signature product, Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, way back in 1968, and it’s been one of the brand’s biggest sellers ever since. A version of it—there’s also a Dramatically Different gel for those with oilier skin and a jelly, which claims to help protect skin against pollution—is purchased somewhere in the world every 3.6 seconds.

With the exception of a formula tweak in 2013 to add greater protection for the skin’s barrier and the introduction of the gel and jelly, the Dramatically Different line has stayed mostly the same in its 50-year existence. That is, until the end of last year, when Clinique announced a major change to the line: the debut of  Clinique iD, which allows customers can personalize their Dramatically Different moisturizer by selecting a base and an added cartridge to address their skin concerns. There are 15 different possible combinations of base and cartridge, with three bases and five cartridges to choose from.

Clinique iD’s introduction to the marketplace signals legacy brands’ growing embrace of personalization, as challenger brands like Belle Bar, Prose and Function of Beauty have been offering customizable hair and skincare for over a year. But the change came with some challenges.

“The idea was to find a solution to keep it exactly the same, because it’s a love mark for millions of people across the world, but at the same time to change it to be able to surprise and delight a new generation of women,” said Julien Moignard, Clinique’s svp of global marketing.

The brand is banking on that surprise and delight coming primarily in the form of five brightly colored cartridges, each one meant to address a different skincare concern. The options are wide-ranging: The green one soothes irritated skin, orange is for calming tired skin, blue for refining and retexturing pores, white to even skin tone, and purple to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. For the bases, customers can choose between the three Dramatically Different products they’re likely already familiar with: the jelly, the gel or the time-tested favorite, the lotion. The product in the base and the cartridge don’t mix until they’re pumped out into your hand.

“Clinique iD shares the same values as any other product at Clinique,” said Moignard. “It’s problem solving, engaging, easy to use and affordable. The main difference is the execution of these requirements. We pushed the limits to the maximum and challenged ourselves one more time, to reinvent ourselves and disrupt again a category that didn’t change much for years.”

Janet Pardo, svp of product development for Clinique, adds that customization is in the brand’s DNA. “In 1968, when the brand was conceived, it was conceived around a notion of taking a doctor’s approach to skincare,” she said. “And when you go to the doctor, they don’t give you the same thing they’ll give me. It’s all very customized and appropriate for what’s happening to you.”

To kick off Clinique iD, the brand released a campaign featuring the theme song from Mission Impossible—a nod to the fact that finding the perfect skincare regimen can feel like an “impossible” task. And like that long-running movie franchise, Moignard said, Clinique is a brand that continues to please people who have loved it for years while attracting new fans.

“Mission Impossible has been there forever, but every time there is a new movie released, they are able to continue to entertain people who already love the saga, but also to catch new people that will love it too,” he said. “It’s also our purpose with Clinique iD. We can talk to existing consumers that are already using the moisturizers for decades but also talk to new people that will start their journey with the brand thanks to Clinique iD.”

@dianapearl_ Diana is the brand marketing editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.