When Trinidad Sandoval made a TikTok video to review an eye-tightening product in 2021, she had no idea what was coming. In under four days, the video garnered millions of views and attracted magazine reviewers who called it "movie magic" and "amazing.” That product is the Instant FIRMx Temporary Eye Tightener made by Peter Thomas Roth.
Over the last several months since Trinidad made the video, Peter Thomas Roth has seen a massive spike in orders and sales for its products. Today, Ashley Prosek, Director of Marketing at Peter Thomas Roth, joins us on the podcast to share the before-and-after story of how the company found mainstream attention and success.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
The blueprint for building a viral brand.
Why continuous iteration, improvement, and testing help a brand stand out in the consumer's mind.
The shortcut to growing sales in retail stores.
Two tactics for making any marketing campaign profitable.
Why listening and learning from customers and supply chain partners is crucial.
And so much more!
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Or, click to watch the full video interview here!
Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us today!
Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!
Jon LaClare: Peter Thomas Roth, the largest beauty brand in the US, had one of their 60 products that has been around for over 12 years, grow by 10x this past year. It's now the number one best-selling eye treatment in the country, in part because of a viral video from TikTok. Learn how they got the video to over 41 million views and how they capitalized on that awareness to increase sales in all their marketing channels.
Automated Speaker: Are you looking for new ways to make your sales grow? You tried other podcasts, but they don't seem to know. Harvest the growth potential of your product or service, as we share stories and strategies that'll make your competitors nervous. Now, here's the host of the Harvest Growth Podcast, Jon LaClare.
Jon: Welcome back to the show. I'm super excited to have my good friend and client, Ashley Prosek, on the line with us today for this interview. She's the Director of Marketing at Peter Thomas Roth. For those that might not be familiar with the largest privately owned beauty brand in the USA, we'll talk about the products, get to know the brand and the products as well, as well as some of the success story behind it. She's been really instrumental in a lot of the success of the brand as they've grown over the years and especially in the next batch of growth that has been happening, and continues to go forward from this point forward as well.
Ashley, welcome to the show.
Ashley Prosek: Hi, Jon. Happy to be here today.
Jon: Could you, for the benefit of our audience that some may be less familiar with some of your products or your brand, can you talk about what are some of the best known Peter Thomas Roth products?
Ashley: Sure. That is honestly a really easy and a really hard question to answer all at once because there are so many beloved products. I'm going to start here with what you have right here, is our Instant FIRMx Eye Temporary Eye Tightener. This is a product that's actually been around for around 12 years, and thanks to TikTok we had a huge resurgence due to a viral video about a year and a half ago. This is one of our most famous products, thanks to the longevity and the viral TikTok video, but we also have really great moisturizers. Our Water Drench Cloud Cream is our number one moisturizer and is a beloved product across many, many customers.
We also have our Hydra-Gel Eye Patches and we have them in a couple of different formats depending on what customers are looking for. Great eye patches that go right underneath the eye and they offer great hydration, and then there's different formulations based on whether you're looking for brightening or you're looking for detox or fighting wrinkles. They're just a cult classic across the brand. The brand has over 60 products in our assortment. There's a little bit of something for everyone.
Jon: Peter's name of course is the brand, but he's also still very involved in the day-to-day operations. Can you talk a bit about back to the beginning of the company, how did he get his start, actually selling the very first products?
Ashley: Peter actually had trouble with Acneic skin and he was looking for a solution to his problem, but there really wasn't anything out on the market that would help solve his skin problem. He took matters into his own hands and along with a good friend of his, June Jacobs, he founded Peter Thomas Roth and opened their very own lab. Something that's really interesting and different about Peter Thomas Roth being a fully private company is that, we're also fully integrated starting with research and development with our manufacturing facility all the way through. Peter is involved in the ideation of every product from the very beginning. Really from concept all the way to counter, he is really involved with every step of the way for all of our new product launches.
Jon: We've been working together for a while now and it's been great to work with you directly, but also to see he is very involved in the day-to-day messaging and positioning of the brand and making sure, of course it carries his name, but also his quality imagery that he and you have built up over the past many years. It sells so well because people get it home and they try out their products and they work. It spreads by word of mouth and other, but also because of some of the marketing that's been done.
Let's talk about some of the marketing channels that you guys are currently very successful in. One is retail. You guys are a very big brand in Sephora, Ulta, and some other retailers as well. What's your process for getting new products, because you guys launch a lot of products as well, getting new products onto the shelf and making sure that they sell well?
Ashley: It's really collaboration process. Internally, Peter and the team work on a lot of different concepts, and then we meet with our retailers on a regular basis, we call it getting in the kitchen. We're all bringing in all of our different ideas where we come to them with our product concepts and they say, "Hey, that's a great idea, but if we took that and did this," and really worked together to build upon ideas and concepts and products that we think are going to be big hits with our customers. It's a really collaborative effort, which is really fun to work that way.
Jon: Absolutely. It's not the norm I think. A lot of people, a lot of companies will put products into retail, they are in charge, it's their product, but it's good to understand that the retailers want to have a say in it. You know the product and the science better than they do of course, but when you get them collaborating with you, they feel ownership, they want to see it succeed, and they also have a good understanding of their audience that we as marketers may not have to the same level because it truly is of course their audience.
Ashley: They have a lot of insights into their customers that we do not have. Their feedback is really, really valuable to us. That being said, as a brand, of course we're always opinionated and have our own thought process. It really is a collaboration of balancing brand values and getting the right product for our customers that our retailers feel like will resonate with them.
Jon: Absolutely. You and I would probably call QVC a retailer to some extent. In many ways they're very similar to brick and mortar retailers, but the nice thing is, the marketing is built in, the live selling. You and your company have been very successful on QVC with many products for years. What do you think has really helped you? Obviously having great products is a key, that's a big part of it. What else has helped you to succeed for so long with so many products on QVC?
Ashley: I think the real magic is Peter. Peter does a lot of the live tapings and really being able to hear his passion. I think you've been able to see his passion working together. When viewers are able to see his passion and to hear directly from him, it's really, really powerful. I think the secret is Peter and him sharing his testimonial and his personal stories about the product concept and innovation, and he's got such a magnetic personality that I think people are just naturally drawn to.
Jon: I definitely agree. As you've said, I've met him a few times as well, and of course you know much better than I do, but from the first time you meet is, he does draw you and he knows how to sell, but you know he believes in the product, you know he has put his heart and soul into it just by meeting him. I think it's a good learning, not every entrepreneur is going to feel as comfortable as he does on camera or have maybe a magnetic personality, but I think it's still a good learning for other product marketers to have themselves connected to their brand. Maybe not the name of it, like he has done, it makes sense for him, but not for everybody. It doesn't have to mean that your name has to be your brand name, but having your story, that connection at whatever level, the better you are at it, of course the more it's going to help.
Even just a personal connection, a quick iPhone video on your website is better than nothing, so your consumers, your customers can really get to know you as the owner, whether it's other employees at the company as well, but especially in your regard for Peter within your specific business.
Let's talk about the Instant FIRMx Eye product. As we can see it behind you on your background there. This is the product we'll spend more time on because it's a very recent growth in success. As you mentioned, it's been around for 12 years, but it's really grown even more over the past year plus, past many months in part because of TikTok. Let's, for the benefit of our audience, just if you could describe a little bit of how the product works and what it does, just so they have a full understanding.
Ashley: Sure. The Instant FIRMx Eye Tightener is a quick fix eye treatment that helps tighten, firm, and smooth the look of under-eye bags, fine lines and wrinkles. It is and a truly amazing product. I remember the first time I used it, I was shocked because it really worked and it worked so well. You just dab a small amount of it underneath your eye, and you'll let it sit for about three minutes. Within those three minutes, you will instantly see any bag that you have underneath your eye is gone. It really feels like magic. It feels you are erasing your little lines and wrinkles. Honestly, I think it's a product that people end up loving it so much because the results really are that terrific. We've had several customers they try it and it's brought them to tears. To be able to have a product that moves people that much is really incredible.
Jon: No, absolutely. For our audience that might be listening, you're not going to see this. For our YouTube audience, you can see the video, the before and after, the effect of this, how quick it works. I encourage everybody else, you either go and watch this YouTube video of this interview, or you can search on the website for peterthomasroth.com or Google them, and you can find the TV spot as well that goes through before or after the whole process, or on TikTok.
TikTok, if you put in Peter Thomas Roth on TikTok or Instant FIRMx, you are going to have several videos pop up, one of which has over 41 million views. It's a top five ranked product video on TikTok. Phenomenal success, obviously that's huge in part because the product works so well and you can see it working. The demonstration is awesome. As you'll see in the audience as you guys check it out, that the production value is not huge. These videos are done with iPhones just by real consumers, but because of that, you can see how well the product works. You can't deny it. It's led to a lot of sales as well.
In your mind, how did that TikTok success happen? What caused it to be such a viral success?
Ashley: It was really crazy. Trini, who filmed the viral video that hit 41 million views that you were referring to, she was just an everyday customer who had a problem, went to Sephora, and they sold her this product to try. We as a brand had no contact with her. We had no idea this video was coming. To us it was a, honestly, a bit of a surprise when it happened.
I think what made it so successful is the authenticity. It wasn't a brand trying to sell you on something. It was somebody who had a genuine transformative experience and was just sharing it with her friends. It just caught on and kept going and going and going.
I think when you have something like under-eye bags and it makes you feel you don't look your best, it can impact your confidence or you just don't like seeing what you see in the mirror. Then there's something that can really, that can truly solve your problem. I just think it's something that people were amazed by and they were looking for a solution and this has solved their problem.
Jon: I think you're exactly right. I think that word you use authenticity is probably the biggest thing that drove this. It drove success because it's real and you can't deny it. That's hard to do as marketers. Influencers, regular people, we try to get these videos, but if you can get real consumers to submit on their own, it can drive powerful results for your brand for sure. I know since that point, since she posted that video, you guys have built a relationship with Trini and with some others as well. With Trini specifically, what are your plans to continue to use that momentum and that content, her video, to propel your marketing in the future?
Ashley: As you said, we developed a really strong relationship with her. We text with her, we have calls with her, not just myself but Peter, other Peter Thomas Roth team members are in regular communication with her. We developed a relationship with her where she was continuing and is continuing to make content for us on a regular basis.
We are always sharing our latest innovations with her. We love hearing her point of view and really just, she built up a, she wasn't planning on being a big influencer. She made her video for her friends and family, but now that she has an audience, she's got a lot of people who really love to hear about her thoughts on PTR's newest innovations.
Jon: That's great. I think it's a smart use of that relationship really to cultivate and get to know them and you can build on, and it's going to continue to be authentic. It started off real, doesn't feel like a paid marketing connection and you're hearing her real story with this product and others in the future as well.
As I mentioned, viral videos can be very powerful in driving awareness interest, but it's hard to turn it into sales unless you got results. Unless the product works so well. My audience has heard, of course, my story many times with OxiClean and many others. One of the reasons OxiClean is so successful, similar to Peter Thomas Roth brand products, very different categories, they work. People get them home, they work, they talk to their friends and family. It's the same with Peter Thomas Roth where these products work so well. People share organically, whether it's through Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or whether it's in conversation with friends one-on-one. They share it because these products work so well.
One of the things I love about the campaign is, on top of the authentic videos you have with Trini and others, you also share a clinical study that had a 100% success rate for this particular product, the Instant FIRMx Eye, of a 100% of people saw visible signs of improvement in under three minutes. That's a powerful study to use. Now it's beyond just one video. Now it's a clinical study attached to it, furthering that credibility and it's a great thing for others to include in their marketing efforts, at least a high level. Would you mind sharing how did you commission that study? How did you get it done so that you could use those statistics or that number in your advertising?
Ashley: The Peter Thomas Roth philosophy is all about breakthrough formulas for astonishing results. Every product that we launch, we always wanted to have the highest quality, highest percentage of active ingredients. To go along with that, we do clinical testing for all of our products because we really are a clinical skincare brand. These tests and claims that we can make are really what sets us apart from the competition.
In terms of the testing, we do work with a third party lab to really do all the, to run the test, to do the measurements, and work with a group of women. Our studies go anywhere from 20 to 40 participants. We try to look at including people of different age range, different skin tones, ethnicities, and really make sure that all of our testing is done with an inclusive mindset.
Jon: I think as you're talking about this, a lot of times people think of studies, "I have the result I want for the products that that is done, and I want to prove that it does X or Y or whatever." I think the way you talk about your products is, it's part of the development. You want to prove that it works, that the promises are there. It's not just about marketing, but it's making sure the product performs as you promise and if not, make changes. That's the beauty of having your own lab.
We worked with a lot of big brands over the years and it's fascinating how many of them shy away from these studies because they don't want, they know their products or maybe they assume these products don't work as well as they promise. The minute you do a study and it doesn't work, you can't make that claim anymore. You can be very cautious, even if it's a light claim depending on what marketing channel you're in. A lot of people shy away from it, but I think it's a great, it points to the effectiveness of Peter Thomas Roth products in general, but it's also good encouragement for others. Again, for our audience to think about, try to get some proof behind, make sure your product works and if it doesn't change it. Make sure whatever, if it's a formulation or if it's a plastic product, the design of it, whatever, make sure it works because the better it works, the better your long-term success is going to be.
Ashley: I think there's so much competition out in the industry right now. Many products, so many brands, and I think people want to know what really does work. I think that the clinical studies that we do really tell customers that our products work and separate us out from that competition.
Jon: Absolutely. Ashley, are there any resources that you recommend to our audience that have been helpful for you in your marketing career?
Ashley: There are a ton, but I think the one I'll mention today is one that's probably been the most influential in my career, and that is the Cosmetic Executive Women association. It is an organization that has events regularly in the New York area as well as Los Angeles, and often they do a lot of virtual events now. Wherever you are in the country, you can log onto cew.org to look at their upcoming event schedule, including webinars. It's just been a really great resource for me, whether it be networking with professionals in the cosmetics industry, or learning best practices from other professionals, or getting inspiration from hearing from top-tier members of the community, whether they be brand founders or people who are very high up in retail organizations. It's just always a fun learning experience anytime I go to an event, whether it be in person or virtual.
Jon: I think that's great advice. That specific group may fit for people in the cosmetic or beauty space, for example, but there are associations like that in almost any product category that might be working. Look for whatever specific field you're in, that networking connection, education, you can learn so much from others that have been down the road you're currently going down, and share. You at this point in your career are now giving back because you learned so much and being able to have so much access since you first started.
Well, Ashley, is there anything I didn't ask in this interview that you think could be helpful for our audience?
Ashley: Not that I can think of, but it was such a pleasure getting to speak with you today.
Jon: Likewise. I really appreciate the time, Ashley. Thanks again. I look forward to continued success for Peter Thomas Roth for this product Instant FIRMx Eye. We talked about many others as well. I'll encourage our audience, please go to peterthomasroth.com. It's in the show notes. If you're driving, go back and check the show notes later on. They'll have the URL there. l will include video links as well so you can see Trini's video from TikTok, the TV spot that's running for Instant FIRMx Eye and other videos as well so you can get a good story of everything that's going on at Peter Thomas Roth. Ashley, thanks again for your time.
Ashley: Thank you.
[00:22:20] [END OF AUDIO]