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The Face of Change: Social Media's Impact on Beauty Branding

By: Jamison Davis
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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While the explosion of the beauty blogosphere constituted a powerful new channel for brands and afforded consumers unbiased, objective and timely information about the latest trends in beauty, consumers still couldn’t purchase the product immediately—a unique quality of the e-commerce capabilities of the brand-owned sites. However, in time a new generation of Web sites entered the scene, combining the peer-review authenticity of blogs and the e-commerce capabilities of e-retailers—social economics.

Social economics sites are Web sites that give a consumer the ability to review other consumer’s recommendations on products, read reviews and ratings, and then purchase the product directly from the site via links to the product’s landing page on its original site. While the social shopping site provides the description, reviews, rating and links, the brand’s own site or e-retail partners are responsible for the actual fulfillment and shipping of the product.

Examples of social economics sites for beauty include Polyvore, Shop Star Style and Fashmatch, where consumers can read what cosmetics are popular through recommendations from like-minded peers. If they like what they see, consumers can buy their own product instantly. This concept has been further advanced with the development of shopping widgets, fully-functional social shopping applications that can live on any site and dispense reviews, content and commerce.

Point of Recommendation

Social shopping sites and widgets constitute the next evolution of the shopping blog. Combining the authenticity and passion of consumer-generated content and editorial with the added capability for the brand to distribute its own content, such as video or web-based information, these sites offer the product for sale at the moment of recommendation. It’s little wonder among marketers that an important new buzzword eclipsing the traditional “point of purchase” is the new concept of “point of recommendation.” Consumers who blog and create content on the Internet enjoy adding widgets and shopping applications to their sites as a “cosmetic enhancement” to their content.

Shannon Nelson, beauty blogger (including “A Girl’s Gotta Spa” and “Make-up Minute”) and beauty publicist at Pierce Mattie PR, commented on this new generation of social shopping sites as marketing opportunities for blogger and brands alike. “People have short attention spans these days, and social shopping sites say ‘here are the top picks, here’s the price’ and link you directly where to get it. They are great examples of combining interactivity that generate buzz and tell you where to purchase a product with an embedded link. They write about products and link to each one,” says Nelson.