Two Halves was founded by a mother-daughter duo with a strong background in the beauty industry.
Jo Yong was formerly with the Estée Lauder Companies, where she held key roles in brands such as Estée Lauder, Origins, Bobbi Brown and Tom Ford. Her daughter, Ashely Yong, was also involved in the company before she moved to banking.
The brand debuted exclusively with Singaporean multi-brand beauty retail outlet Novela in October 2019, three months before it launched online on its website.
Ashley Yong told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the pair’s experience in brick-and-mortar retail pushed the decision to focus more on offline channels.
“The market is very crowded because the barrier to entry for beauty is not that high anymore. Anyone can launch a brand online, but how do people choose between all the different brands? I felt that the traditional way of seeing a product and testing was the way to convince people to try a new brand.”
Unfortunately, the new brand was hit by the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent movement restrictions and lockdowns that hindered its plans.
“Retail was shut for about three months because of COVID-19 and because we depended mostly on retail, we did suffer quite a bit,” Yong said.
On top of that, the brand had only launched with one product, Better Balance Soothing Hydration Essence, making a challenge to market the brand.
While it had a moisturiser in development, the pandemic threw yet another spanner in the works.
“Overall, we did have more obstacles in manufacturing the moisturiser. For a long time, everyone said their labs were busy making hand sanitisers and that really stalled the development of the moisturiser,” said Yong.
Even though Singapore has managed to control the virus outbreak and refrained from another lockdown situation, the ramifications of COVID-19 is still felt by the brand.
“When we first started, we wanted the focus to be more on [physical] retail. But with COVID-19, retail stopped for a second. And now, people can’t sample products, we can’t do events. For the brand it’s very hard to build that closeness with the consumer online. COVID-19 has definitely hindered what we planned for the brand,” said Yong.
On the rebound
After a long delay, Two Halves finally launched the Better Balance Nutrients Networking Water Cream in January 2021.
With the start of the new year, the company has also seen business pick up again as the retail landscape started to recover in Singapore and the addition of a second product.
Additionally, the brand has expanded its reach online through beauty e-commerce platforms Beaubit and Sknedit.
“We have continued with [offline] retail but of course we’ve put more effort into the online business. As we progress, I feel like we are learning to live with what’s happening, and that’s what every brand has to learn to do, adapt to situations and see how we can best work on it.”
To keep up with the momentum, Yong said the company was planning to launch a second product this year. “Ideally, we’re trying to have two product launches ever year to keep the brand fresh.”
While Yong declined to reveal details about the new products in development, she confirmed that they build on the existing line-up.
“We’re trying to keep it to the essentials. So, what you definitely won’t see from us is like a glitter face mask – that’s not what we’re trying to do.”
However, she noted that the company was careful not to launch new products frivolously.
“Two Halves is targeted towards people with sensitive skin, and for this group of people, they may not necessarily like to keep trying new products. We are trying to find that balance.”
Moving into the new year, the brand is keeping it simple by focusing on its home market and building more brand awareness among consumers.
“We find that people don’t really know much about the brand itself. The most important part we are focusing on this year is brand awareness. Especially now that we have two products, it will be easier to promote the brand,” said Yong.
As such, expansion into new markets may have to wait, she added. “Initially we wanted to target a global audience as well, but I think now because of the current situation we will focus on Singapore. To be honest, it is a very good market that we should be focusing on first and look into expansion later.”
Yong concluded: “For now, we’ll see how we can work the brand make it grow in terms of brand equity. We want to get the product into more peoples’ hands so once they try it, we can get a lifetime customer. We want to get people to trust the brand so they will keep coming back, that’s the ultimate goal.”