Beauty Brands and Retailers in Danger of Falling Short of Consumer Expectations


The rules of marketing have been swept away in a few short years, as ordinary women, not print media or even celebrities, are influencing the way we shop for beauty.

If you want any proof of a beauty blogger’s influence, look no further than Zoella’s 9 million YouTube subscribers. Each week her YouTube channel has 6.8 million views. The majority are teenage girls and young women aged 13-24.

Now look at the circulation of InStyle magazine which struggles to reach 150,000.

Nowadays, the first place the selfie generation, aged 10 and over, go for beauty inspiration and tips is Instagram or YouTube. Their older sisters might still buy magazines and take heed of the beauty editor’s top picks, but this younger generation are learning about the latest make-up techniques (strobing, contouring, in case you ask…) from their bedrooms.

Multinationals Put their Faith in Bloggers

Such is the influence of beauty bloggers/vloggers that the multinationals are rushing to sign these up and coming trendsetters.

  • Estee Lauder has just signed Korean style blogger Irene Kim as its new global beauty ambassador. She ticks all the right boxes – hails from Korea, the hotbed of beauty trends; she’s a rising YouTube star and has close to 700,000 followers on Instagram

  • L’Oreal Paris has appointed Kristina Bazan, whose style blog Kayture boasts more than 2 million views monthly and she has 2 million followers on Instagram. Her role is to co-create exclusive content with L’Oreal Paris, covering make-up events and participating in the new digital era of make-up.

In a recent edition of WWD, a leading US fashion and beauty website, Yann Joffredo, Vice President of global cosmetics, L’Oreal Paris, talking about Bazan’s appointment, said: “For us, it’s a major step in our communications strategy. It’s a new era.”

Testament to this is L’Oreal Paris’ huge presence on Facebook where it has 25 million followers.

The Fastest Growth Area is Mobile Beauty

Google has identified mobile beauty as a key reason for the change in consumer behaviour.

At the recent Pegasus Healthy Beauty Forum, Catherine Forrest, Google Mobile specialist, revealed:

  • There are one billion beauty searches worldwide every quarter: 100m in the UK; 370m in the US

  • Mobile searches overtook desktop in August 2013

  • Women search online for beauty throughout the day

  • 15% of women in the UK learn about new skincare products and techniques from YouTube

  • Video usage on mobile is growing fast – over 50% of women are watching at least weekly; 25% watch daily

Sephora Taps into the Empowered Beauty Consumer

Catherine singled out Sephora for its work in rethinking their in-store and mobile experience for the empowered consumer.Sephora creates “help-me-choose” moments and offer much more than just a shop-front for products. They include:

  • Beauty Insider, a club offering beauty rewards and benefits, including VIP shopping events

  • Beauty classes, where an in-store instructor helps consumers learn everything from skincare basics to the latest make-up trends

  • The Sephora Glossy is an ezine offering beauty news, inspiration, beauty tips and videos and professional expert advice

  • Daily obsession, recommendations posted by Sephora personnel

  • Mobile offers change daily

  • Free samples with every order

The Way Forward

I don’t see much evidence amongst UK retailers in terms of engagement with beauty consumers.

The major beauty retailer sites, including Boots and Debenhams, focus on products and offers, but there is little if anything to make consumers want to keep coming back. Where are the videos, articles and expert tips?

Feelunique does it much better and are the closest to Sephora in creating a far more empowered consumer experience. But what they lack is physical shops where consumers can go to interact with products.

It seems to me there is a gap in the UK market that no one is properly addressing.

In the absence of Sephora, I wonder who will step up to the mark?

I’d really like to know what you think about these changes happening in beauty today. Please do share your views in the comments section below.

Image: Thomas Leuthard