Beauty & Cosmetics in the Social Media Revolution

Social media has dramatically transformed the relationship between brands and their customers, and the cosmetics industry is no different. Today’s consumers expect brands to have an online presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and this is likely to be consumers’ first interaction with your brand, before they ever see your own landing page. 

For beauty and cosmetics companies, this presents some significant challenges, but this new, informal and direct interaction with consumers also opens up a whole new world of exciting marketing opportunities for an industry that is inherently personal. 

A Wide Reach

Thanks to the explosion of social media and digital marketing, it is easier than ever to get marketing messages out there and to start building a loyal following. Not only that, but effective use of social media can be a uniquely cost-effective approach to marketing, giving you instant access to a wide – even global – audience, while offering the opportunity to target your specific consumer base. Alongside traditional marketing approaches, print ads, billboards and TV advertising, there really is no comparison.

Setting up a few social profiles, though, is just the starting point. This form of marketing is only effective for brands that are active and consistent in their online approach. This means regular and relevant posts and interactions, responding promptly to consumers, and creating a consistent online brand persona across all media channels. High quality content is also essential, otherwise you risk undermining the authority of your brand from the start.

An Opportunity to be Creative

With so many cosmetics brands starting to explore these new marketing possibilities, the challenge is to find a way to be unique and to stand out from the crowd. The trend towards brand storytelling – creating a whole narrative around your brand that resonates with your customers – is a particularly effective tool for beauty and cosmetics marketing, as this can be such a personal and emotive industry for consumers.

The rise of social and multi-media platforms also opens up plenty of new, creative ways to present and demo beauty products. Tutorial videos and online demos are a great way to reach your target audience, connect with them in a very direct way, and show your products in action.

A Sense of Community

One of the greatest advantages of marketing through social media is that it’s just that – social! People like to be part of a group, and to share in something. By appealing to a certain demographic and growing a loyal customer base, it is easy to create a sense of community online. This is particularly important when it comes to marketing beauty products as people can become quite emotionally invested in the quest for the right products for them, and this can depend on endless variations in skin type, colouring, lifestyle, and personal preference.

As a consumer, it can be hard to know whether a product is right for you, whether it will suit you or work well, without trying it out, and that’s where consumer-to-consumer feedback and reviews come in. People generally find it easier to trust their fellow consumers, but creating a space for this to happen helps brands to build a sense of trust and integrity.

The great news is that those brands that put the effort into cultivating a strong online following tend to find that their customers will start to do a lot of their marketing for them. Reviews and comments, Likes, sharing and blogging are some of the most powerful tools available to today’s marketers, and this word-of-mouth approach is perfectly suited to the personal and social nature of the beauty and cosmetics industry. More and more, people are posting photos of them buying, using or wearing the products they love, and using platforms such as Instagram and YouTube to share video reviews or make-up tutorials.

In Conversation with Consumers

The immediacy of social media platforms in bridging the gap between cosmetics brands and consumers is ideal for gathering instant and direct feedback, and a real-time understanding of what your customers want. Engaging with an online community that is focused around cosmetics and beauty will help brands to identify and pre-empt upcoming trends and stay ahead of the game, rather than being reactive and always trying to catch up with the latest developments.

Social Media Influencers

One of the best moves a cosmetics brand can make is to utilize social media personalities or influencers, such as beauty bloggers with a strong following. You can “piggy back” on the following and the trust they have built up by collaborating with them and encouraging them to feature or review your products. It is important to choose the most relevant personalities, though, and not just anyone with a strong following.

Staying Ahead

New platforms are always emerging and trends are ever-changing, but it is important to make best use of the platforms that are most appropriate to your target audience and that work for what you are trying to achieve. For example, Twitter might be highly effective for connecting with potential customers and generating an initial following, but Facebook is more suited to creating a space for followers to share views, comments and reviews and generate a sense of community. Perhaps the greatest challenge for beauty and cosmetics marketers is keeping up with this fast-paced digital landscape!


Beauty and Cosmetics…and Health

Cosmetics and beauty products are about looking and feeling your best, but these days, it’s not enough for a product to be good quality, effective or long-lasting; it must also be “healthy”.

In recent years, there has been a rising trend in the focus on wellness of body and mind. Many of us are becoming more concerned about healthy eating and healthy living, and taking better care of our bodies, and this heightened awareness has spread to the beauty and cosmetics industry, too. Health is now a key driver of our purchasing habits when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products. We care about what goes into these products, and how it gets there.

Social media has played a big part in this, with popular bloggers leading the way in clean eating and organic beauty. This desire for wellness extends to environmental and ethical factors too, all of which influence consumers’ decision-making.

But there is no absolute consensus as to what “healthy”, “natural” or “organic” actually mean when it comes to cosmetics. Plant extracts, oils and botanicals have become increasingly popular as organic alternatives to potentially harmful chemicals; for example, as natural preservatives in place of parabens. But it is not necessarily the case that a product must be completely free of chemicals to be labelled “organic”.

Unlike organic foods, skincare and beauty products do not currently fall under clear and strict legislation, so a product that calls itself “organic” may still contain synthetic ingredients and potentially harmful chemicals, often used for their preservative qualities or fragrance. These might include parabens, mineral oils and silicones.

So how do producers adapt to this trend, navigate the market, and ride the wellness wave?

To be considered truly “green”, producers face certain challenges on all fronts: finding available, affordable and effective natural alternatives to chemical ingredients; ensuring all ingredients are ethically sourced; adapting production methods to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, and; experimenting with more eco-friendly packaging.

Today’s consumers expect brands to go the extra mile, even if it costs them. The good news for producers is that evidence from the organic food industry suggests that consumers are willing to pay more for a product that is organic and ethical.

In fact, the “organic” label is a strong selling point, and if producers can adapt quickly there is a fertile market, ready and waiting. Green, clean living and environmental awareness have never been more fashionable, and cosmetics and beauty brands have the opportunity to capitalize on this trend while it is front and centre in the minds of consumers.

Many brands are already finding their niche within this growing market for organic products, whether that means a focus on the gentle, sensitive nature of the botanicals, or on the scientifically proven benefits of these natural ingredients. The challenge for cosmetic producers is to find a unique selling point within this trend, and to position products as premium, organic options, without pricing themselves out of the market.

The persuasive power of certification should not be under-estimated either. Consumers often feel reassured by some kind of symbol or logo, such as the Soil Association (which guarantees that the ingredients and farming processes meet certain organic standards), or Fairtrade (ethical sourcing of ingredients).

It is highly likely that restrictions and regulations will soon catch up with this booming industry so that producers will only be able to claim the “organic” label if their ingredients and production processes meet certain criteria, so it makes sense to get ahead of the game and take this seriously from the outset.

Crucially, producers of cosmetic and beauty products must stay at the cutting edge of the conversation on the role of organic products within the wellness movement. Engagement with their target market on social media is the simplest and most direct way of doing this, to understand what’s important to today’s consumers and to pre-empt opportunities before they arise.