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The Changing Way Consumers Shop Online for Cosmetics

By: Ross Glick and Judy Shulman Brown
Posted: January 20, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

As consumers drive the beauty site experience instead of the brands dictating it, Ross Glick and Judy Shulman Brown take a look at the challenges and rewards in the fusion of social media and shopping online: experience commerce.

Q: As you think of the beauty industry and digital marketing, who was the industry forerunner, and in what ways have they evolved? And thinking about your history in the industry, is there a brand that really stands out as one who took the first step digitally?

Glick: The first company that comes to mind is MAC Cosmetics back in 1999. This was when the various channels of marketing communication were beginning to expand and consumers were spending more time online becoming digitally savvy.

At that time MAC was a true pioneer, embracing digital marketing from a creative point of view. They began asking the important questions: what can we do creatively with these new digital channels to create excitement, evangelize MAC culture and feed the MAC community? Because MAC is very much about community, the community of MAC and the artistry of makeup, not only the community of the professional makeup artist, but also the people who identify with the cosmetics lifestyle and their culture.

MAC intuitively foresaw that digital technology would help their brand connect more deeply with their community and consumers. By creating digital content that pushed the boundaries of digital marketing, MAC began to effortlessly unify the online global community of makeup artists. An example would be MACPro.com—an offline program that migrated to an online password-protected site—whose initial objective was to create loads of non-traditional kinds of content, including trend videos, product knowledge and application videos.