Clinique "3 Step": Classic Product Bundling

To the beauty industry, Clinique will be remembered as an ambassador of the skin care regimen, dressed in a clean white lab coat.

To retailers, Clinique will be remembered as a brilliant product bundler. In 1968, Clinique, then a nascent beauty products brand, introduced its now famous “3 Step Skin Care System.”

Today, the Estée-Lauder owned cosmetics giant carries dozens of best-selling beauty products worldwide, but it continues to sell its 3 Step Skin Care System. Among its legion of fans, it’s referred to simply as “3 Step.” This bundle is now available in various sizes and for different skin types. But at its core, it is simply a bundle of products for anyone who wants great skin.

The 3 Step consists of three products that, together, cover the skincare basics: facial cleanser, clarifying lotion, and moisturizing lotion. You can buy each product alone or you can buy the set. The genius of Clinique’s iconic bundle is that it does not promote three products to three pockets of customers. Instead, Clinique banked on an assumption—everyone wants beautiful skin—and offered a curated, comprehensive solution that gained them three sales for the price of promoting one.

For the past four decades, Clinique’s 3 Step has made a strong case for the merchandising opportunity that product bundles provide. Bundles also offer more than just marketing functionality for brands:

  • Bundles are promotional vehicles. Offer component products at a lower unit price, and increase your number of units sold in return.
  • Bundles are an easy way to move slow-selling items, thus clearing inventory and making room for new products
  • Bundles inherently provide up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. Introduce your coffee bean lovers to a French Press by bundling them together.

Curated bundles can be a positive part of your customers’ experience if your bundles save them the time it takes to research and bundle on their own. Bundles can also result in customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

There are myriad ways to incorporate the product bundle into your business. Less important than which particular way you choose to bundle is that you choose to bundle at all. At the very least, any and all bundles will provide higher average order value (AOV).

And if you do it right, your product bundle will become much more than just a big ticket item and much more than just a combination of your products. It will embody your brand and mission and impress upon customers uniquely.