Why beauty brands are in need of a serious makeover

Mark Ralphs

1 February 2019

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The cosmetics industry has been forced to adapt to a world in which customers are turning their backs on the channels beauty brands have relied upon in the past to build up a loyal following.

Millennials are famous for ignoring or actively blocking intrusive advertising – whether it’s a television ad or a pop-up online. Print media sales have plummeted – more and more people are drawn to ad-free platforms like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and YouTube over traditional television watching, and adoption of ad-blockers continues to rise.

Intrusive advertising, ugh as if

So, if you’re a beauty brand, how exactly do you go about capturing the attention of this increasingly elusive audience? It’s simple; you play the ratings game.

In the past, launching a new beauty brand would have required massive initial investment into research, development and marketing; but today beauty brands can go from garage to global in the blink of the eye – without the support of traditional advertising. These brands are using the power of social media to find and engage with their audience.

For cosmetics companies looking to connect with ad-adverse audiences, there are already a huge amount of existing, exploitable resources in the form of social media and forums like MakeupAlley and Beautypedia.

Social Media; a beauty brand’s bestie

Instagram is a beauty brand’s dream come true, and many are already making the most of the platform’s visual nature. MAC Cosmetics, for example, has accumulated over 20 million followers on Instagram alone. In 2017, beauty-related material on YouTube generated nearly 90 billion views; the majority of this material being comprised of vlogs, tutorials, reviews and haul videos, rather than content produced by beauty brands themselves. Beauty brands can, on average, achieve returns of £8.81 for every £1 spent on influencer-led collaborations.

Ratings and review aggregator websites also present a fantastic opportunity for brands looking to increase their impact and monitor brand perception – and some brands are taking consumer feedback a step further. Glossier, for example, set up a Slack channel for their most engaged customers, in order to provide them with a space to share feedback and ideas about their products. British beauty brand, The Hero Project, actively engages with consumers and potential consumers throughout the product development process via social media – their products are built on the recommendations and ideas of their audience.

Brands that come to you

We all understand that accurate audience targeting requires a vast collection of network data behind it – but even targeted ads are often ignored in much the same way as generic banner ads. Beauty brands need to go one step further for advertising like this to be effective. It can’t just be specific to the user who views it, it has to address a real need or demand in a timely and compelling way.

Lifestyle magazine Refinery29, for example, features sponsored beauty products within 25-30 second ‘Short Cuts’ video tutorials on Facebook. These fast paced, colourful and minimalistic spots showcase products in a way that is totally non-intrusive, actively engaging and entertaining for those who sought their content out.

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The beauty industry before and after

The future looks bright for beauty brands, but marketers must work closely with their audiences and the people responsible for the design and development of their products in order to ensure consistency between what they’re promising and what they’re delivering. The truth is that the real drive behind the success of some of the world’s biggest beauty brands of today is simple communication.