Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2013

Living Proof: Are We a Technology Company or a Beauty Company?

by Willy Shih

Abstract

Jon Flint came up with the idea of a science-based beauty company while talking with his hairdresser about the problems with typical hair and skin care products. Together with a small team that included Professor Robert Langer of MIT, he committed to assemble a team of scientists from outside the beauty industry to challenge the conventional wisdom. Their company, Living Proof, wanted to offer women "proof in a bottle" rather than "hope in a bottle."

As the firm came to market with its first products, it focused on explaining its science to consumers. It found it increasingly necessary to direct more of its resources towards marketing, including a major investment in Jennifer Aniston as its celebrity spokesperson. Were they becoming less of a biotech company and more like a traditional beauty company? How did they reconcile the desire for continued high spending on R&D with the need to ramp up marketing?

Keywords: Hair care; personal care; science-based; commercialization; R&D; marketing; Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management; Innovation Leadership; Innovation Strategy; Technological Innovation; Marketing; Marketing Strategy; Product Marketing; Product Positioning; Science-Based Business; Business Strategy; Commercialization; Corporate Strategy; Technology Platform; Expansion; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; United States; Boston; Cambridge;

Citation:

Shih, Willy. "Living Proof: Are We a Technology Company or a Beauty Company?" Harvard Business School Case 614-013, September 2013.