Digital Marketing Redux   //   January 23, 2024

Tarte is embarking on a cross-country tour to celebrate its 25th anniversary

Cosmetics company Tarte is taking a cross-country road trip to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Starting this week, Tarte will spend the next year trekking to 25 cities across America in what it calls its “Kindness Tour.” Each stop will include a visit to one of Tarte’s retail partners, a pop-up with free merchandise, a party for influencers and giveaways at a local school. Tarte sells products online, as well as via Sephora, Ulta Beauty and department stores such as Macy’s and Kohl’s. The first stop of the tour takes place in Los Angeles on Wednesday, with Dallas scheduled for the day after.

Tarte founder Maureen Kelly will be on board the Tarte tour bus, along with members of her marketing team and the Tarte Shape Tape concealer mascot. “The tour is a full-funnel strategy for us,” Kelly told Modern Retail. “So, we’re not only driving buzz and sales but hitting the full 360-degree scope of all the people who make our brand a success: the customers, the creators, our amazing retail partners.”

Tarte’s tour comes on the heels of a “really exciting” year for the business, Kelly said. Worldwide sales of Tarte’s Maracuja Juicy Lip Balms doubled year-over-year, with one product sold every six seconds, Kelly said. TikTok Shop has also proved huge for the brand; in a given month, Tarte can do 30% to 50% of online sales on TikTok Shop. According to Kelly, Tarte sold more than 25,000 units of its Maracuja Juicy Shimmer Glass Lip Plump on TikTok Shop in two weeks. Sales are up offline, as well. “We’re seeing a major halo in all our retailers on the same products [as on TikTok Shop],” Kelly said. “And some weeks, it’s a triple-digit comp.”

The Tarte tour is geared towards several audiences. In each city, Tarte plans to thank employees at its retail partners, give fans of the brand goodie bags and gift certificates and throw a themed event for influencers with various-sized followings. (The Los Angeles and Dallas influencer events will have a ’90s theme, complete with photo booths and friendship bracelets.) There is a philanthropic component as well, as Tarte will hand out school supplies and Tarte products at local schools and clear teachers’ Amazon Wish Lists.

Each month of Tarte’s tour will feature one best-selling Tarte product. January’s theme is Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer, which is on sale for $15 instead of $32 this week. Tarte plans to fold the Shape Tape concealer into its pop-ups in Los Angeles and Dallas, as well as its influencer events in each. Future months could highlight Tarte’s lip products or mascara, Kelly said.

While the Tarte team has solidified the first two tour locations, it is crowdsourcing the rest. Next week, Kelly plans to ask her social media followers where the Tarte tour should go in the future and then plan an itinerary accordingly. Tarte is also crowdsourcing which retail partners it should visit, as well as which schools it should stop by. “We’re going to see what the Tartelettes want,” Kelly said. “This whole tour is going to be focused on giving back.”

Most stops on the tour will tie to some sort of product launch, Kelly explained. In this way, Tarte will use the tour to increase sales, as well as highlight where and how to get its products. Tarte will keep fans updated on social media with the goal of driving traffic to the events, Tarte’s website and its retail partners. Additionally, Kelly wants the tour to serve as a celebration of everything the brand has accomplished in 25 years.

Events such as the Tarte tour are a “major part” of the company’s marketing strategy, Kelly said. Last year, Tarte held “Teacher Tuesdays” during which Kelly met “thousands” of teachers and helped clear their wish lists. (Teachers are a big focus of Tarte’s events, as Kelly’s mother and sister are teachers.) Tarte also held a community activation in Australia during the Women’s World Cup and held all-expenses paid influencer events to Dubai and Turks and Caicos, although the latter faced some criticism online.

Today, more fashion and beauty retailers are using in-person events to tap into new markets, show off their products and connect with customers. Cider, a Gen Z-focused fashion brand, held its first pop-up in the United States in November, while shoe retailer Aldo held its first consumer-led pop-up in September. In December, Charlotte Tilbury hosted a pop-up in New York City with complimentary refreshments and gifts, as well as a spin-the-wheel game for free prizes. Last summer, Fenty Beauty hosted events in the U.S. and Canada and offered one-on-one consultations from in-house makeup artists.

“With beauty, because the consumer is so engaged with the category, any time you can create moments that are relatable and more tangible, that’s something that we’ve seen a trend in,” Greg Carlucci, senior director analyst at Gartner, told Modern Retail.

But, Carlucci said, with so many activations, it’s important for brands to stand out. He cited Tarte’s charity aspect of the tour as a great example of something different. “Any way that you can really show, ‘Hey, we’re not just selling products, but we understand you as a consumer’ is critical for driving brand reputation and brand health,” Carlucci said.