15 Cosmetic Marketing Tips From Iconic Beauty Brands

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It’s no secret that the beauty industry is a force to be reckoned with. The global beauty industry recently became a $532 billion business, well on track to exceed $800 billion by 2025. With the rise of influencer-owned brands, video tutorials and brand trips, the beauty business is constantly finding new, creative ways to market and sell itself.

Keeping that in mind, it’s not a surprise that some of the biggest names in beauty have taught us a thing or two about what successful cosmetic marketing looks like. Branding is all about building a fan base of loyal customers, having an instantly recognizable product and ensuring clear, consistent messaging.

From cult-favorite products to eye-catching packaging, these five brands have been able to teach all businesses a thing or two about successful, strategic marketing. Check out the infographic to see these tips at a glance, or keep reading to see how these powerhouse cosmetic brands cemented themselves as leaders in their industry.

Anastasia Beverly Hills

Founded in 2000 as a company offering solely eyebrow products, this makeup empire run by Anastasia Soare and daughter Claudia surpassed $375 million in sales in 2019.

Marketing lesson: Engage with micro-influencers

As many makeup brands know, sending products to influencers in exchange for reviews is a fantastic alternative to organic, word-of-mouth growth. By sponsoring their posts and stories, brands have easy access to an influencer’s large, loyal audience.

What ABH does differently is engage with micro-influencers, who generally have a following of 5,000 to 100,000 people. Often left off of beauty brand PR box lists, these influencers still have a heavy following,  with 90% of Instagram posts in March 2018 coming from these accounts. Not only is ABH investing in them early and forging positive relationships, they’re capitalizing on a whole new sect of beauty fans that other companies have ignored.

Marketing lesson: Stay true to signature products

Anastasia Beverly Hills is most well-known for their eyebrow pomade and pencils (that is what the company was founded for, after all!). Despite their growth into over 480 new products, including foundation, eyeshadow, lipsticks and highlighter, the brand recognizes their roots and stays true to their signature eyebrow products.

Though many companies have similar offerings to ABH’s, their eyebrow pomade is regularly regarded as one of the best in the business — because they continue to promote and expand the line. Recognizing what you were first known for and honoring those traditions is a sure-fire way to ensure you appeal to both old and new fans.

Marketing lesson: Take advantage of user-generated content

The beauty industry hit a major boom thanks to YouTube and Instagram tutorials, which made red carpet and runway accessible for public recreation. ABH customers often tag the brand in looks they have created with their products using the hashtag “#anastasiabeverlyhills,” which has been used in over 22 million posts on Instagram.

Anastasia Beverly Hills has been very smart with their usage of this user-generated content they have constant and immediate access to. By reposting customer’s looks on social media, they not only give the customer exposure, but engage in what is essentially free advertising. This makes the brand and product much more authentic and accessible, and shows potential customers what is possible with their products.

Fenty Beauty

Launched in September 2017 by global superstar Rihanna, this brand instantly made waves in the beauty community — and taught us all a thing or two along the way.

Marketing lesson: Connect to real people

Fenty had a cult following from the moment it hit stores, and not just because Rihanna was the mastermind behind the brand. The launch of its inaugural product, the Pro Filt’r foundation, included 40 different shades (and has since expanded to 50). With undertones and shades for everybody, especially people of color, every beauty lover regardless of skin tone was able to pick up a bottle — which paid off big time, considering the brand garnered $100 million in sales in its first few weeks.

After this launch, Fenty has stuck to its guns as being the leader in the industry when it comes to shade range and diversity, even causing other brands to expand their shade ranges. To this day, Fenty walks the walk and talks the talk by continually delivering diverse, inclusive shades of face makeup that anyone can wear.

Marketing lesson: Superior products lead to superior sales

With Rihanna’s name on the packaging, it would have been easy to create sub-par products knowing that her name alone would do half of their sales. However, Rihanna was specifically inspired by the gap she saw for high-quality products at an affordable price point that could perform well across a variety of skin tones, shade ranges and skin types.

Due to this strategy, many of the products Fenty Beauty has released since its launch have garnered a cult following with sales records to match. Some of its best sellers, including the Gloss Bomb, have helped catapult Fenty to the top of beauty industry fame.

Marketing lesson: Use social media like your customers

Social media has long been a way for people and companies across the world to connect and share their thoughts, opinions and praises. Fenty Beauty has taken this a step further by pioneering a real, thoughtful connection to their customers through social media — most of which are active in the 9.3 million Instagram followers of the brand.

Fenty goes beyond posting beautifully curated shots of their products by forging connections to their consumers through posting relevant memes on their Twitter, sharing low-fi videos of Rihanna using the products or engaging in conversations with influencers who love and promote their best-sellers. Through meeting their customers in their online space, Fenty positioned itself as a culturally relevant account that often feels like a friend rather than a multi-billion dollar brand.

L’Oreal

Started in 1909, this French cosmetics company has grown into a powerhouse in the beauty industry, ranking as the number one cosmetic group in the world. With product offerings spanning cosmetics, haircare, skincare and body products, this brand knows a thing or two about cosmetic marketing.

Marketing lesson: Be Inspired by universalization

Identified as one of their key branding goals in 2016, L’Oreal looks to offer beauty products that can be used no matter what shade you are or part of the world you are in. This means having a high standard and range of products for not only your main market, but any other part of the world products are sold.

Adopting this strategy means that L’Oreal is inspired by products from around the world. Promising this as a key branding metric ensures their products are both  top-notch and creative, and are inspiring and diverse from all others on the market.

Marketing lesson: Introduce unique service offerings outside of products

Considering that L’Oreal is 111 years old, one might wonder how they’ve kept their fingers on the pulse of an industry that has gone through hundreds of shifts. They’ve achieved this by being strategic and unique in both the products and services they offer.

It was through this strategy that L’Oreal was the first brand to launch a virtual makeup tester app on smartphones. This allowed prospective customers to virtually test makeup looks, with over 300 L’Oreal products available in the app. Not only did this bring their products to an entirely new customer base, customers were able to see how a certain shade or color will look on them before making a purchase, which cuts down on returns.

Marketing lesson: Meet your customers where they are

For the most part, cosmetic marketing is geared toward women or people who wear makeup every day. L’Oreal has shown how to meet your customers where they are, especially if they are not in your general market, through creative marketing for men.

In 2013, L’Oreal’s skincare brand Kiehl’s launched a moisturizer for men. To spread the word, appeal to their target demographic and come to their customers (instead of the other way around), L’Oreal partnered with Marvel Comics to release a branded Captain America comic simultaneously with the launch of their men’s moisturizer. Set in a Kiehl’s store, the issue features the product but doesn’t flaunt it — a strategy used to pique audience interest instead of bombarding them with advertisements.

MAC Cosmetics

Started in 1984 by a makeup artist and salon owner who were frustrated by the lack of makeup that photographed well, this beauty brand revolutionized the cosmetics industry forever.

Marketing lesson: Invest in your employees

MAC is a unique cosmetics company in that it focuses first on makeup artists, not the everyday makeup wearer, often identifying the makeup artist as their first line of customers. The company has made makeup artists the very core of their brand by employing over 17,000 of them as sales associates. They even offer training to the artists they employ, with over 12 levels of certification needed to become a MAC makeup artist.

This investment pays off for the brand, as these artists are then employed by MAC to bring makeup artistry to the everyday consumer. By having employees who are well-versed and expertly trained in using the products, the enthusiasm they feel for the products translates onto the sales floor.

Marketing lesson: Keep your customers coming back

With how stiff the competition within the beauty industry has become, MAC and other brands have had to be creative in how they keep up with trends and customer’s loyalty. MAC developed a way to keep customers interested by constantly coming up with new, innovative collections.

The brand launches almost 50 collaborations a year, from products conceptualized by smaller influencers to huge collections with household names like Barbie, Hello Kitty and Disney. This constant introduction of new products and collaborations keep customers coming back for more, despite all of the options out there.

Marketing lesson: Pique interest with unique packaging

Due to the sheer number of cosmetics competitors on the market, everything about a new product has to be engaging and eye-catching: starting with the outside. MAC consistently launches intricate, beautiful packaging on all its products that excites the consumer before they even know what’s inside.

By investing in high-quality packaging, you give your product a luxury feel before the customer even knows what the product is. Engaging both fans of the products and fans of the packaging (such as collectors) ensures positive sales numbers.

NARS Cosmetics

Established in 1994 with a simple line of lipsticks, this cosmetics company has become a household name due to its luxury products at budget-friendly prices.

Marketing lesson: Expand on your best product

When many people think of NARS, they think of their best-selling, universally adored Orgasm blush. Since its launch as one of NARS’ original products in 1999, this product brought the brand to the forefront of the beauty industry — in fact, one blush is reportedly sold every minute.

NARS smartly realized there was a market available for other Orgasm products and expanded it into a full collection of lipsticks, highlighters and powders using the signature color of the original blush. This decision allowed fans of the original product to expand their collection, while introducing the color and products to an entirely new audience.

Marketing lesson: Have immediately recognizable packaging

To create a cohesive and recognizable brand identity, NARS opted to always have the same packaging on each product. Founder François Nars wanted customers to always be able to identify NARS products from others, just by the packaging,

By always opting for the same sleek, black and white packaging from their original launch, the brand cultivated a unique identity that customers are familiar with and can look for. This cohesive branding spills over into the identity of NARS itself, which strives to be modern, cutting-edge and sophisticated.

Marketing lesson: Embrace imperfections in advertising

Since its launch, Nars has had the same vision for his brand: reveal instead of conceal. He looks to embrace, highlight and celebrate the natural beauty of customers, rather than cover it up.

That is evident from the brand’s advertisements, which Nars himself is still heavily involved in as artistic director and in-house photographer. He looks to cast diverse models that possess “not-typical beauty” in his brand’s ads that have “something off, in the best way” to show that his products celebrate all beauty.

There’s a lot that these beauty brands can teach about marketing for cosmetics, perfumes and other beauty staples. From how to appeal to different markets to how to stay  ahead of trends, the biggest names in the beauty industry have done it all. Which marketing lesson from these powerhouse beauty brands will stick with and inspire you?

Sources: Forbes (1, 2, 3) | Jilt | Octoly | CNBC | Beauty Packaging | Allure | Irish Times | The TrendSpotter | Business of Fashion | Statista | Brand Directory | L’Oreal Finance | Referral Candy

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