The beauty industry was valued at a whopping $532bn in 2019; the result of global retail sales consistently rising over the past decade.

Many consumers now discover beauty products on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube, so it’s no surprise that both new and legacy brands are turning increasingly spending on digital media, in order to generate engagement and drive sales. 

Here’s a run-down of some of the best examples of content marketing from cosmetics and beauty brands in recent times.

1. Bleach’s Hair Party

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the beauty industry has found ways to serve consumers who have been unable to maintain their regular routines (such as dyeing their hair, or manicuring nails).

Hair brand Bleach London is one example of a brand that has successfully pivoted to a virtual solution, launching the ‘Bleach Hair Party’ platform. The ‘Hair Party’ essentially acts as a digital salon; live conversations with the brand’s Creative Director (and other guest speakers) enable consumers to buy and apply hair colour correctly.

This focus on informative and education content was part of Bleach London’s strategy prior to the pandemic, too, with ‘how-to’ content on YouTube as well as comprehensive step-by-step guides on its website effectively engaging consumers.

2. Function of Beauty’s Customisation Quizzes

Customised beauty and skincare has grown in popularity in the past few years, enabling brands to deliver products and regimes tailored to individual consumers. Function of Beauty is one such example, with the brand creating custom haircare and skincare for consumers based on an in-depth online consultation (or quiz). While this is part of Function of Beauty’s USP, it also acts as a clever piece of content marketing in its own right, helping to hook in the consumer – and their long-term loyalty.

Function of Beauty also creates other online content related to its commitment to customisation, helping consumers understand how the products work, as well as how to properly care for their hair and skin.

3. L’Oréal’s Virtual Make-Up

Many beauty brands launched virtual tools in 2020, as consumers were unable to visit stores (and try out products in person), and L’Oreal’s ‘Signature Faces’ virtual make up line was arguably one of the most innovative releases.

Consumers are able to choose from 10 different AR filters on live video platforms including Zoom, Google Duo, Snapchat, and Instagram. Essentially, it allows consumers to ‘wear’ make-up online, without actually wearing it in real life.

While filters have become a popular tool for brands on social in recent years, L’Oréal is one of the first brands to turn it into a more concrete and unique online experience; one that also aligns with the recent rise in digital communication.

4. Fenty’s digital launch

No brand has had a bigger impact on beauty in the last few years than Fenty. The company – which is owned by Rihanna – launched in 2017 with a 100% digital campaign, largely geared around Instagram and influencer content.

Built on a ‘beauty for all’ concept, Fenty launched its foundation in 40 different shades, thereby setting the tone for its inclusive, body positive, and diverse marketing. Combining reviews and testimonies for industry professionals, models, and every day fans – its unique Instagram strategy drew in 1.4m followers within just four days.

Fenty continues this approach across digital channels, using YouTube tutorials and live virtual events (often featuring Rihanna) to generate engagement and hype around each new product launch.

5. Glossier’s Body Heroes

Glossier reignited its ‘Body Heroes’ campaign in 2020, this time featuring a number of WNBA players (the US Women’s National Basketball Association) as well as some unknown members of the public. Speaking to Fast Company, Glossier senior VP of marketing Ali Weiss commented: “We had to think about it in this new context (of 2020), and so what we’ve done is create a campaign that highlights the personal narratives of 16 unique body heroes.” 

Glossier ran video content across its social media channels, highlighting the personal narratives of its Body Heroes, focusing on their individual lives and beauty routines. Alongside this, Glossier created ‘skin portraits’, in order to showcase the unique and diverse nature of real beauty. 

The aim of the campaign was to drive awareness of Glossier’s new body products, while also continuing the brand’s wider mission to disrupt perceived beauty standards within the industry, and to instead focus on beauty in a more authentic context.

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6. Benefit’s ‘browmobile’ competition

Despite brows being just one step in a make-up routine – eyebrow products are big business. According to NPD, Benefit Cosmetics had a 50% share of the £20 million brow market in 2016, and that was before the brand launched 13 brand new brow-related products.

One reason behind Benefit’s domination of the space is its shrewd marketing activity, which in 2017 involved the ‘Browmobile’ campaign. Combining experiential elements with digital marketing, it involved an online competition offering users the chance to win a visit from the browmobile. A lucky few would be able to enjoy a personalised brow tutorial, treatments, and a hamper of Benefit goodies.

The online competition page reportedly generated 61,000 unique visitors, plus a tonne of buzz and engagement on social media.

7. NYX #faceawards

L’Oreal-owned NYX has generated an almost cult-like following in the past couple of years, mostly thanks to its clever digital strategy. As well as relying on user-generated activity, its annual Face Awards enables it to capitalise on the wealth of associated video content on social media platforms.

The Face Awards is an online make-up competition for professional make-up artists and beauty vloggers, enabling anyone with a love of make-up and artistry to showcase their skills. The competition culminates in the ‘Artist of the Year’ award, with the finalists and eventual winner being decided by the audience.

Not only does the competition increase general awareness of the NYX brand, but by involving the audience throughout, it gives them something to truly invest in.

8. Huda Beauty’s influencer partnerships

Influencer marketing is a big part of many brand content strategies, but Huda Beauty stands out as a leading example. According to analysis from Launch Metrics, influencers represent the largest share of voice for Huda Beauty, above owned media. In June 2019, influencers accounted for 81% of the total ‘Media Impact Value’ for the brand. 

Huda Beauty’s Instagram feed is populated with influencers, many of whom have millions of followers of their own. One of Huda’s biggest influencers, @sadaf_beauty, for example, has 3.3 million followers, while the brand’s founder – Huda Kattan – has become an influencer in her own right.

According to The Cosmetify Index 2020, Kattan reportedly earns over $3,000 per video and over $160,000 per sponsored Instagram post. Huda Beauty was also named as the most-sought after beauty brand on Instagram on 2020, with the brand reaching a record 48m followers.

9. Aesop’s Taxonomy of Design

Skincare brand Aesop prides itself on creating unique and original retail spaces, with each one deliberately designed to be different.

Aesop’s digital microsite, Taxonomy of Design, aims to reflect this by telling the stories behind its global stores. It offers information on the processes and materials that go into each one, and features interviews with designers and collaborators who have worked on the stores in question.

A beautifully designed site in its own right – it’s pretty easy to get lost browsing around. However, by pointing users back to content on the main Aesop website, it is able to deliver on its original purpose of promoting the core brand.

10. Colourpop’s giveaways

Colourpop is a ‘fast beauty’ brand that has grown in popularity due to its affordable price range and fun approach to digital marketing. Alongside influencer content, giveaways are a core part of its content strategy, particularly on Instagram and Twitter, where the brand aims to engage a young and enthusiastic fanbase. 

According to Vogue Business, Colourpop has seen huge levels of engagement from its giveaway strategy, with a single Instagram post from October 2019 generating 75,000 comments and over 170,000 likes. 

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