Thursday, April 17, 2014

Beauty Brands and Social Media

The beauty industry is often overlooked when we think about the ways in which the internet has progressed, how social media has grown and how brands have adapted.
For an industry that has been built on recommendation through word of mouth, it was relatively slow on the uptake of social media.
A recent article in Marketing Week stated that consumers spend less time watching TV, and more time on digital media. Though it is excellent news for agencies that specialise in online strategies, it’s bad news for those who use traditional ATL methods.
Previous research revealed 69% of personal care websites are not updated regularly and that 12% of websites host out of date promotions. Brands have since wised up, investing more money in digital-led campaigns to not only improve their social media presence, but to achieve a higher ROI in areas that TV failed to deliver.

Benefit Cosmetics

Benefit ranks #6 in the Top 150 UK Beauty Brands list, which is no surprise considering its strong online presence. It  reaches over 1.4 million fans (753k on Facebook, 113k fans on Twitter, and 553k on Instagram). If you’re familiar with Benefit’s packaging, then you won’t feel out of place on its Facebook page; the same retro-inspired femininity oozes in its high-quality images.
 Benefit social media posts
(Above left: Magazine advertisement. Above right: Online asset)
In terms of encouraging engagement to build a loyal community, Benefit has perfected this. It has taken the distinct tone of voice used on its packaging, and have adapted this for online assets, resulting in cheeky, friendly and shareable content that is guaranteed to attract the same 18-30 demographic online that the company targets in store. What I personally like about Benefit, is that it is consistent in how it replies to fans; whether it is responding to queries, complaints or praises, its replies are bold yet affectionate.
Inspirational Benefit Cosmetics social media post


Chanel is arguably more famous for its fashion pieces and perfume than make-up, a point that is supported by its absence from the top 150 UK Beauty Brands list. Its competitors – Clarins (#70), Clinique (#30) and Lancome (#32) – steam ahead. As one of the world’s most famous high-end brands, its social strategy intrigues me. Of all the brands analysed, Chanel is by far the biggest with a community of 11 million loyal fans. While the ‘less is more’ approach is popular among fashionistas, this is not a strategy that is widely used for make-up brands, which is refreshing.
Chanel facebook post
Each post is minimalistic, the essence of grace and femininity, with focus on the imagery.  This, of course, leaves little room to express personality or encourage conversations among fans, though it can be argued that Chanel’s target is to ‘be’ rather than ‘do’. After scrolling through three month’s worth of content, it became obvious to me that Chanel is reliant on bold statements – I’ve not seen a single call to action on a post. This begs the question; do they need to build loyal relationships or can a make-up brand this popular strive on popularity alone? When you put engagement to one side, you’re left with the second most valuable metric, which is reach. Chanel’s usage of social media, however minimal, has certainly allowed it to reach more users worldwide, despite not exchanging words with their fans.


My first foray with make-up was with Avon, and I, like so many others, remember buying from an Avon rep. Of all the brands I’ve looked at, Avon strikes me as the most intriguing. Avon is the perfect example of fishing where the fish are. As a company that has built its entire business on personal relationships, how did it adapt to social media? By replicating the same social interactions from a face-to-face environment, and building this online.
February’s Fashion and Beauty report from Socialbakers has listed Avon as one of the Top 3 fastest growing Facebook pages in the UK. My personal highlight is that Avon stick to its roots. Sure, it has recognised that it needs to be using the same online space as its consumers, but it has done so without shying from using the same tactics that attributed to its original success – the Avon reps.
The only thing that saddens me about Avon is, while the company’s assets are high quality, they aren’t branded. These images are getting hundreds of shares but without proof that the make-up in question is theirs. As they are competing against brands like L’Oreal, Rimmel and Revlon – brands that can be purchased without the help of a rep – it is essential that Avon builds its social media footprint.
Avon social media image
Just like the overwhelming beauty counters at a department store, social media can be a great place for consumers to interact with beauty brands. Likewise, it is essential for brands to understand their strategy, whether it be running a 360 degree, through the line campaign that works in conjunction with its advertising and marketing in the style of Benefit, or using social media as a platform to push content, like Chanel.