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Heritage Beauty Needs to Go Social

Contact Author Hannah Symons, Associate Beauty and Personal Care Analyst, Euromonitor
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Heritage beauty brands need to balance playfulness and functionality in their marketing messages.

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With a wealth of expert beauty knowledge transferred to the fingertips of the masses by a host of bloggers over recent years, consumers are increasingly likely to experiment with color cosmetics. The sense of familiarity and trust attached to blogger reviews is leading audiences to feel they are taking less of a risk when purchasing outside their comfort zone.

Heritage cosmetics brands, which have historically relied on their longevity and reputation as repeat-purchase clinchers, need not consider themselves exempt from targeted digital marketing tactics, such as user-generated content and the more transient social platforms.

Blogger Dominance

In Euromonitor’s 2015 Online Beauty Survey, almost 20% of consumers said that beauty blogs/expert reviews ranked as a top five influencer in their decision when they last purchased color cosmetics. The highest response rate regarding beauty bloggers as a purchase influencer was in the 15–29 age group, where more than a quarter of the demographic deemed blog reviews an influencing factor.

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This was the age group that was least likely to cite previous personal experience as a motivation behind their purchase choice. The 15–29 cohort also represented those who claimed to most commonly purchase new color cosmetics to change their makeup style and to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, and who were least likely to purchase to replace a product which had run out.

Playfulness Vs. Functionality

The shift in purchasing mentality highlighted in the survey suggests that bloggers are leading their audiences to prioritize variety over a set beauty routine. Beauty bloggers appear to be cultivating a mindset whereby color cosmetics are seen as more playful and less functional. Legacy brands, which have traditionally relied upon repeat customers, might need to consider becoming less complacent and dependent on reputation.

Heritage Brands Missing Out

Targeted and authentic experiences, as delivered by bloggers, are emerging as priorities to maintain the interest of the increasingly fickle millennial consumers. This is something heritage brands are not fully potentializing.

Chanel’s presence on YouTube stems primarily from its official channel featuring generic celebrity advertorials and tutorials by catwalk models. Similarly, Elizabeth Arden’s presence on the platform is mostly built upon in-house narratives and less upon authentic blogger conversation.

Interestingly, however, away from YouTube but still within the realms of social media, this is all about to change for Elizabeth Arden with the recently announced launch of its “Liz Arden” digital campaign. The initiative uses a fictional character, Liz, to create a fresh and more personable voice, bringing its customers closer to the true essence of the brand.

Advantages of Digital Native Brands Nevertheless, the exposure of heritage brands is eclipsed by the space that younger names like NYX and Anastasia Beverly Hills occupy in beauty conversations on digital media. These newer brands utilize, and integrate with, the audience themselves as a marketing means.

Maria Hatzistefanis, founder of the luxury cosmetics brand Rodial, recently spoke of the importance of authenticity online at the WWD Digital Forum in London, with which Euromonitor International was partnered.

The Rodial brand is now a cult favorite amongst beauty junkies, and its founder believes this can in large part be attributed to the fact that it learned early that “our force has to be our own voice, it cannot be forced, promotional or boring.”

Heritage Print Goes Social

In the media part of the industry, Condé Nast is showing there is space for heritage beauty in the social world. The media conglomerate recently announced the launch of its first beauty network centred on social media.

#TheLookIs is aimed at engaging the millennial beauty cohort through digestible and targeted content in the form of short videos and trend round-ups, alongside some pieces co-created with brands themselves.

Without losing any of its authoritative voice and exclusivity, the content will be curated by the group’s esteemed beauty editors, with September’s launch led by Vogue’s beauty director, Celia Ellenberg.

Taking cues from Condé Nast by acquiring a fresh digital voice rooted in tradition, cosmetics brands held in similar high regard could avoid the negative effects of not having the key millennial generation, which lacks the brand loyalty of the baby boomers before it, on board.

As millennials grow older and become a more significant consumer group armed with the knowledge, confidence and finances to disrupt their predecessors’ buying patterns, embracing digital in all its guises seems necessary for the prestige brands that have spent years resting on their laurels.

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