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Beauty for all budgets

Shelley Sullivan, CEO and founder ModelCo and MCoBeauty

Australian cosmetics brands ModelCo and luxe-for-less sister brand MCoBeauty have recently undergone a digital transformation and are now focusing more on direct-to-consumer (D2C) through their online channels. Previously, both brands lived on one site to allow consumers to shop across both, but according to founder Shelley Sullivan, there has now been “a conscious uncoupling”.

Both ModelCo and MCoBeauty are sold in retail stores across the country and according to Sullivan, there are no plans to become “digital-first”, as customers still enjoy the tactile nature of shopping in-store.

“We’re very much bricks-and-mortar. People want to touch and feel products,” she told Inside FMCG. “When you’re a new brand like MCoBeauty, some people will take a risk if it’s at a good price point, so we have a lot of first-time customers shopping the product. We also sell in grocery stores in hang-sell packaging, so there’s not a lot of testing. But ModelCo has a more premium price point and consumers still want that tactile touchpoint, but continue to buy their favourites with us online.”

Like many D2C brands now, both ModelCo and MCoBeauty also sell most of their product range via Instagram. As Sullivan said, “Social media is at the forefront of everything.”

“[D2C has] higher margins and more revenue and secondly, it allows us to custom our comms to customers and personalise our messages,” she said.

Next year, the sites’ CRM system will be redeveloped, a loyalty program will be put in place and Sullivan’s team will have the chance to learn more about their customers and segment the customer base to better serve them.

Creating accessible brands

Widely known as one of Australia’s most successful businesswomen, Sullivan launched ModelCo almost 20 years ago, when she was inspired as a former modelling agent to share the secrets of her models’ beauty regimes. Sullivan created the Turbo Lashwand Eyelash Curler and Tan Airbrush in a Can and since then, the cruelty-free cosmetics brand has continued to focus on offering customers innovative beauty products. The brand has also collaborated with high-profile fashion and beauty icons such as Karl Lagerfeld and Elle Macpherson.

Sullivan launched MCoBeauty earlier this year at Woolworths stores across the country, with a focus on the “luxe-for-less” trend-based beauty products under $30 each.


“We wanted to build our customer into the brand from the beginning and identify four consumer profiles that catered to the everyday beauty consumer. The MCoBeauty brand speaks to anyone between Gen Z and Gen X with its on-trend offering, affordability and accessibility at the forefront,” Sullivan explained.

“Upon launch, each of our consumer profiles were targeted through people of influence who authentically engaged with MCoBeauty bringing the luxe-for-less, affordable and cruelty-free message to the forefront. The success is a true reflection of influencer marketing and the power that the digital world has on consumers.”

The beauty landscape has evolved dramatically since Sullivan first entered the industry, especially with the slew of D2C brands that have recently entered the fray. In fact, Sullivan launched the Innovative Brands Group earlier this year as an incubator business to help build emerging brands. Both MCoBeauty and ModelCo are also part of the umbrella business.

“We’re looking to distribute and help small brands and indie brands. As a businesswoman and mentor, I want to steer people in the right direction. It’s so cluttered out there, and retailers will eat you alive. There are a number of brands around that could do it better and faster, so that’s what we’re looking to bring into the stable,” said Sullivan.

“When I first went in, there were the Estée Lauders, the Chanels and the most innovative thing was Mac. Now you can shop at Sephora, where there are 500 different brands – and every influencer thinks they can build a brand. The landscape is cluttered both on the mass end, but more so the premium end. Customers don’t want to just buy beauty products, they want to buy from brands that stand for something.”

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