Sunday Riley strikes a partnership with United Airlines, embracing captive retail via wholesale.

WHAT HAPPENED: The skincare brand Sunday Riley will be United Airlines’ exclusive beauty amenities supplier beginning in April 2019.

Why it matters

  • Sunday Riley’s partnership aims to raise awareness for the brand, aided by United Airlines’ pervasive global footprint and at least 158 million passengers. A form of captive retail, the range will include a handful of products that passengers will be more apt to try in the airport lounge and on their flight (an included 20% discount will encourage them to seek out the brand after they reach their destination). Aside from a face cream, all of the SKUs Sunday Riley is providing to United are new, allowing the brand to test uncharted categories before deciding in which direction to expand its assortment. The selection is created with the in-flight environment in mind and will comprise the brand’s forthcoming travel subscription box, set to launch in May.

  • Sunday Riley isn’t the first brand to partner with an airline, but it’s one of the youngest (the legacy brand Kiehl’s, for instance, partnered with Delta in 2016). The digitally-native brand wholesales at Sephora, Net-a-Porter and a handful of other retailers, but the United partnership takes it a step further. All of United’s 88,000 employees will receive a 25% discount on the brand for three years. Sunday Riley could use these employees as brand evangelists—a potentially powerful influencer marketing strategy since passengers (who double as potential customers) interact with the airline staff on all legs of their journey. Compared to what may be Away’s foray into cosmetics, Sunday Riley is in a much better position with United Airlines to disseminate its brand than a suitcase and baggage company is to create wellness products.


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