How Can Beauty Brands Adapt to the Digital World?

In the beauty and CPG sector, the physical, in-store interaction has always been the most important moment for retailers. But in recent years, the digital landscape has offered equally important touchpoints. In a crowded and highly competitive sector, standing out means expanding your brand’s digital presence in order to get closer to the consumer, moving beyond that single point of in-person interaction to trace the journey the customer takes to get there. We are living in an environment where brands are omnipresent, and need to reach the customer at as many moments as possible. Here are a four ways beauty CPG brands can stand out in the digital world:

Invest in Apps

No one is doing this better than L’Oreal. The L’Oreal MakeUp Genius app blends tech and beauty seamlessly. The app allows users to virtually try on products before buying. Having test-driven this app myself, I am amazed at the realistic quality of the virtual makeover—the user experience combined with the customer’s interaction with the product is nothing short of genius.

Benefit Cosmetics has recently developed the Brow Genie App. Best known for its eyebrow waxing and shaping services, Benefit Brow Bars, the brand’s virtual brow-shaping app popularizes the brand’s products while also capitalizing on the growing eyebrow maintenance trend. Apps are even spurring the creation of new beauty brands like Glamsquad, Beautified, and Priv—Uber-like, on-demand apps that connect the customer with hair stylists and make up artists that come directly to them.

Branded Content and User Generated Content (UGC)

Branded content is the perfect medium for beauty brands. With the rise of YouTube celebrities like Michelle Phan and Kandee Johnson known for their make-up tutorials, it is very easy for beauty brands to share videos and photos featuring creators using their products. Sephora makes its own how-to videos for creating different looks, all using Sephora makeup.

Many beauty brands are tapping into User Generated Content (UGC). By arming their customers with hashtags, beauty brands can pull related posts and feature them on their websites. Revlon and Maybelline are using UGC to perfection. By featuring UGC on their websites, beauty brands are able to both spotlight and inspire their customers. UGC is a great way to activate and engage current and prospective customers by encouraging them to interact with the brand.

Social Media

The majority of UGC comes from social media, and to be successful, beauty brands need a solid social media presence. Popular channels include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. These channels allow the brand to interact directly with the customer, and can also be a way to earn trust. Nyx has a strong social media presence, retweeting its customers’ photos and reviews as well as posting behind-the-scenes Snapchat videos. They’re using all platforms to their fullest potential. Competitions and giveaways are another way to get individuals involved with the brand, while also giving them something in return.

Social media is a make-or-break landscape for beauty brands; it is a space where customers post honest reviews and visuals of themselves interacting with the product. There isn’t any room for false advertising, so transparency and authenticity are key.

Strategic Partnerships

Sponsorships and partnerships are important in expanding a beauty brand’s digital presence, because they increase the brand’s reach. Refinery29 is a great example. The brand partners with CoverGirl to publish relevant and on-trend makeup tutorials like “6 Beauty Looks That Need To Be On The Red Carpet”. When beauty brands partner with digital media brands, they can tap into a new audience—one that is likely to be receptive to the product. Partnerships are also a way to break into editorial content. Into The Gloss, another example, partnered with Sephora on a fall makeup trends editorial that both serves as content and advertising.

In an interesting move, L’Oreal also sponsored a series of entertaining videos with NHL players. In the videos, the narrator asks the NHL player a series of “either/or” questions, then quickly follows with, “Do you know what exfoliating means?” This campaign allowed L’Oreal to reach a new audience by forging a strategic partnership.

In order for beauty brands to better connect with their customers, a smart and nimble digital presence is absolutely necessary. Investing in apps, UGC, social media, and strategic partnerships are just some of the ways beauty brands can begin to expand their digital presences. And as they become more digitally-savvy and understand the best ways to engage with people, they can then adapt their digital presence to better suit the people they want to reach.


Associate, Global Communications