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Translated by
Barbara Santamaria
Jan 10, 2020
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6 minutes
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Marketing and beauty, the strategies of a millionaire alliance

Translated by
Barbara Santamaria
Jan 10, 2020

What drives more than 154 million people to follow an account on Instagram? And what kind of value does that create for a company? These are questions with no easy answers, however Coty attempted just that when, at the end of 2019, it offered to pay $600 million for a majority stake in Kylie Cosmetics. A 51% ownership in the company founded by the youngest Kardashian, valued at 1.2 billion euros and with more than 22 million followers, joined by the almost 3 million followers of Kylie Skin and the millions who follow the founder’s personal profile.

The staggering numbers challenge the industry’s understanding of KPIs such as return on investment and media value in a world dominated by Instagram. The study ‘Behind Beauty: Understanding Marketing Investments from Tomorrow’ from Launchmetrics uses the firm’s proprietary algorithm to explore the media impact value generated by 40 luxury and mass market brands in the period from 1 January to 30 September. How do marketing strategies work in this millionaire industry?

Chiara Ferragni's collection for Lancôme - Lancôme

Dior Makeup, the top luxury brand

According to Launchmetrics data, the makeup division of the famous French brand leads the way among luxury makeup brands, after generating a media impact value of $316 million in the first nine months of the year. Followed by Nars with $309 million, Lancôme with $255 million, and Laura Mercier with $201 million, Dior Makeup stood out for its large number of publications, often doubling that of its rivals. The list, which includes big names such as  Estée Lauder and Chanel Beauté, also features independents such as Pat McGrath Labs and Kevyn Aucoin, given their online and offline growth.

When it comes to mass market brands, the numbers are even higher. Huda Beauty, the makeup brand founded by makeup artist Huda Kattan in 2013, placed first in the ranking with a media impact value of $745 million. Rihanna, in the second spot with her Fenty brand, generated $604 million, while Anastasia Beverly Hills and Morphe are listed with $591 million and $512 million, respectively. The online beauty community has helped give mass market products ‘viral’ or ‘cult’ status by directing customer flow across Instagram and YouTube.

A marketing strategy for every brand

Although it strives to adapt to the new digital landscape, Dior Makeup has a rather conservative strategy. And it probably doesn’t need more than than. With an extended customer base, the French brand focuses on retaining existing customers whilst attracting new ones, particularly through online and print media. In parallel, influencers are gaining traction in its strategy and have been seen attending events in exotic countries as part of product launches.

Having a media strategy is particularly important for Nars, which has created online content for Instagram with big names such as Naomi Campbell and Susanne Bartsch. Meanwhile, Lancôme’s marketing investments have barely focused on media. The most important route for the brand is influencers, activating a plethora of digital creators across all social channels, underpinned by the value of its #happinessactivists initiative and a recent collaboration with top influencer Chiara Ferragni.

A post shared by James Charles on his Instagram account generated $1.4 million in media impact value - Instagram: James Charles

Influencer value rises fast among mass market brands. Huda Beauty’s strategic positioning captures tech-savvy consumers and valuable influencers, such as its founder. And the brand has found the perfect formula to keep its followers interested through a selection of video content posted on Youtube, including tutorials and a look into her private life. This has been valued at $62 million.

Anastasia Beverly Hills has a similar strategy, focusing on influencer collaborations for campaigns, product launches, exclusive announcements and roundups, which have gone to produce soaring levels of media impact value. A notable campaign was with beauty all-star James Charles, leading the results with $480 million in media impact value. As for Fenty, influencers are important but play a slightly smaller role than across other brands. It’s worth noting that its media impact value was influenced by 46,779 mentions, helped by the authority Rihanna commands as a pop star.

Tutorials, professional advice, celebrities and new formats

A ranking of the top social media posts shows that, for both luxury and mass market brands, influencers dominate as the most valuable path. Successful formats come in many shapes and sizes, from the classic Youtube and Instagram tutorials that highlight certain aspects of specific products, such as that of Sadaf Beauty for Lancôme and Charlotte Tilbury (worth $1.2 million in media impact value), to the inclusion of promo codes in video captions, a strategy that generated $2.7 million in a collaboration between James Charles and Morphe. Video content in collaboration with celebrity makeup artists are also on the up, such as Tati Westbrook’s collab with Scott Barnes, which racked up a high media impact value of $1.4 million.

Whilst Tatcha leads the ranking of social posts in the luxury market thanks to a Youtube video with Jeffree Star, which generated $3.8 million for the brand, Esteé Lauder turned to the LGBTQ voice of Jovi Adhiguna Hunter to generate awareness in Indonesia by activating a giveaway campaign on Instagram, amassing a high media impact value in the local market and hundreds of social interactions.

Huda Kattan's brand, Huda Beauty, generated a media impact value of $641 million through influencers - Instagram : Huda Beauty

Maybelline Brasil also achieved more than a million comments in its local market with an account takeover from Brasilian influencer Mari Maria, which generated the brand’s highest media impact value. The strategy invites a social media star to cover a particular event via a brand’s profile. Mari Maria was in charge of creating content during New York Fashion Week, which she attended in her role as brand ambassador.

Celebrities continue to be valuable, generating buzz through their own channels and in their roles as brand ambassadors. A post shared by Camila Cabello for L'Oréal totalled $1.1 million in media impact value, while a post from Angèle Van Laeken for Chanel Beauté accounted for $379k. Gigi Hadid, meanwhile, helped spread the word about Pat McGrath when she shared a gallery of videos of photos from the Marc Jacobs show at New York Fashion Week. This earned Pat McGrath’s brand, featured in the post, one of the highest results.

The role of publications

Launchmetrics considered the value of online and offline publications separately. Online,  the top online publication in luxury came from Chanel with a feature in the New York Times valued at $78.5k. Carine Roitfeld, the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, talked about the Chanel’s new perfume, referencing the brand as an inspiration.

The top-earning online publication overall was a Rihanna interview with Jeremy O for the NY Times Magazine. The feature focused on the launch of her beauty brand, and this mention helped deliver $163k in media impact value. Beauty roundups, editorial features and features about ‘how to get the look’ with certain products continue to be relevant across fashion magazines.

Dior has the best performing print ad - Dior

In terms of offline magazines, Dior generated $345k through an advertorial for its Miss Dior perfume with Natalie Portman, featured in Shape USA. This was the highest-earning print feature in the luxury market, demonstrating that print magazines continue to play a role when building brand value. In fact, the study from Launchmetrics shows that print mentions can be more lucrative for long-time established brands, because Baby Boomers are more likely to value print media, whilst the younger generations are firmly online. That is why independent brands chose to invest more in digital strategies.

Charming consumers

Launchmetrics concludes that beauty behemoths need to incorporate digital strategies in order to compete against newer rivals. Authenticity is key to improving content value, maximise impact and build lasting relationships with the consumer. Brands are also urged to invest in omnichannel experiences that drive brand stories across multiple channels, connecting both digital and physical.  

Also, the market intelligence company insists that, given the beauty market’s saturation, consumers are not focused on the product anymore. Instead, beauty brands need to shift their attention to strategies that drive interaction and engagement. So out with the sales pitch, because today, consumers want a brand they can fall in love with. 

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