e.l.f.’s Chipotle Collaboration and New CBD Line Fend Off Pandemic Blues

Cosmetics brand taps into two major trends expected to continue after Covid-19

e.l.f.
e.l.f.'s Chipotle-inspired makeup kit sold out in 4 minutes (though supply was limited). e.l.f. Cosmetics
Headshot of Richard Collings

Key insights:

A new Chipotle-inspired prom makeup kit by e.l.f. Cosmetics is the result of an unusual but clever mashup with the fast-casual chain, and sold out in mere minutes Thursday, CMO Kory Marchisotto told Adweek.

The cosmetics and skincare company also launched a line of full-spectrum CBD skincare products this week to appeal to shoppers’ heightened desire for skincare and wellness products during the pandemic, she added.

The collaboration and the new offerings are the latest examples of how brands are coming up with inventive ways to boost business in a difficult time.

“E.l.f. and Chipotle go together because our values align,” said Marchisotto, adding that such efforts also fulfill the company’s desire to put a smile on people’s faces during a difficult time.

The mission of e.l.f. is to make beauty accessible to every eye, lip and face, while Chipotle’s aim is to make better food accessible to everyone, she noted.

“Like Chipotle’s commitment to responsibly sourced food, e.l.f. prides itself on 100% vegan products, and the parallels certainly don’t end there. Both brands are quick-thinking, agile disruptors who can move fast on ideas that resonate with the Gen Z audience,” said Tressie Lieberman, vp of digital and off-premise marketing at Chipotle.

While brand mashups are not new, they will likely gain traction as consumers seek unique products and experiences that stand out from the crowd.

The offering is part of a broader collaboration between the cosmetics brand and Chipotle, which is hosting a virtual prom afterparty Friday evening following Teen Vogue’s virtual prom event.

The kit includes a silver pouch that resembles a wrapped burrito, while the makeup includes a primer-infused brush as a stand-in for guac, a lip exfoliator called Brown Sugar in lieu of brown rice, and a putty primer matte in place of sour cream.

In addition to the partnership, e.l.f. is recalibrating its product lineup to include more skincare and health and wellness products, as demand for those items has spiked during the pandemic.

In particular, the company launched a line of full-spectrum CBD products, which have trace amounts of THC, including a facial oil, an eye cream, a body cream and a moisturizer.

The CBD line caters to consumers’ need for a moment of calm and self-care, especially in this anxiety-ridden moment for the world, Marchisotto said. “What we see now is a blurring between wellness and beauty,” she said.

It’s also part of e.l.f.’s culture of testing and learning. “We have a high risk tolerance,” she said. It comes from the original founders’ desire to sell a premium product for $1 over the internet some 16 years ago, and against the odds, succeeding. “They made the impossible possible,” Marchisotto said.

Like with TikTok, which e.l.f. has had a presence on since the platform’s early days, the cosmetics company doesn’t overthink—it tests and repeats what’s successful, Marchisotto explained.

For example, the beauty brand issued a hashtag challenge featuring an original song on TikTok to test the platform and measure customer engagement, which as of May 10 resulted in the creation of 3.5 million videos and generated 5.2 billion views.

In another example, the full-spectrum CBD line builds on the successful introduction of cannabis sativa-infused products late last year such as Happy Hydration Cream, Calm Balm lip balm and Puff Puff Primer.

Being first to market with innovative products is one of the things e.l.f. prides itself on, Marchisotto said. “One of things e.l.f. does brilliantly is we build on demands we hear, sentiment we hear.”

Editor’s note: This article was updated to reflect the latest numbers for e.l.f.’s TikTok hashtag challenge, which resulted in the creation of 3.5 million videos and 5.2 billion views.


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@RichCollings richard.collings@adweek.com Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.
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