How The Makeup & Beauty Industry Can Attract More Customers With Innovative Advertising As Mask Mandates Decline - Digital Media Solutions

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Masks are off, and makeup is back. As a result of mask mandates decreasing and in-store shopping increasing, the beauty and personal care industry is poised for a resurgence. Larissa Jensen, Vice President and Beauty Industry Advisor at The NPD Group, told Business Insider that the recent CDC announcements related to the lessening of some mask requirements are a game changer for the beauty market. Jensen said, “I really do believe this, that as this mask mandate lifts, we’re going to see some big momentum coming out of the makeup category in 2021 into 2022.”
According to Statista, revenue in the beauty and personal care market is expected to grow 4.77% from 2021 to 2025. Major beauty retailers started to experience surges in both online and in-store sales even before some of the latest pandemic-related announcements. Prior to mask mandates loosening, beauty brands were leaning into the power of social media and ecommerce to drive sales. Fast forward to today, and major beauty brands, including e.l.f. Beauty, Ulta Beauty, Hourglass Cosmetics and Olive & June, are leveraging multi-channel digital advertising strategies to connect with consumers reprioritizing their beauty and personal care needs.
In May, e.l.f. Beauty reported, “For the three months ended March 31, 2021, compared to the three months ended March 31, 2020: Net sales increased 24% to $92.7 million.” According to e.l.f. Beauty, its sales growth was “primarily driven” by the brand’s ecommerce strength. “We currently expect net sales growth of 8-10% in fiscal 2022 — at the top end of our long-term economic model,” said Mandy Fields, Chief Financial Officer for e.l.f. Beauty. While the e.l.f. Beauty brand is highly recognizable on the shelves of retailers like Target and Walmart, e.l.f relies on its social media reach and a holistic approach to digital marketing and advertising for brand building, personalized engagement and conversions.
Brigitte Barron, Director of CRM and Customer Growth at e.l.f. Beauty, said, “A new consumer might come across e.l.f. while browsing on social media, and they find a video about our best-selling Poreless Putty Primer. They likely already know about our brands… So they head to e.l.f. Cosmetics.com or our mobile app and then explore more about the brand and hopefully start to build a basket of products in addition to that Putty Primer.” Social media advertising, both paid and organic, can be a highly effective strategy for beauty brands, driving consumers to ecommerce platforms, increasing engagement and sales. 
Beauty retailer Ulta also saw sales soar. In its first quarter of fiscal 2021 earnings, Ulta reported net sales increased 65.2% to $1.9 billion, crediting its growth to consumer confidence, a growing desire for “newness,” “government stimulus payments and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.” Ulta believes social media plays a major part in reaching younger consumers and elevating trends. “Engagement with social media platforms, like TikTok, are bringing new life to the color cosmetic category, engaging younger audiences, driving trends and reinvigorating trial and usage,” said Dave Kimbell, CEO at Ulta Beauty.
Later this summer, Ulta “shop-in-shops” will debut across Target stores as part of the strategic partnership announced by the brands last fall. Target and Ulta are both hoping to leverage their remarkable digital growth, supported by a variety of pick-up and delivery options and loyalty programs. “Ulta Beauty at Target reflects further evolution in our omnichannel strategy, rooted in unlocking the potential of our physical and digital footprints, creating more seamless shopping opportunities for our loyal guests and continuing to lead the beauty industry,” said Mary Dillon, Executive Chair of Ulta Beauty. 
For many shoppers, particularly younger consumers, the ethics of a brand are as important to them as the products it sells. Several years ago, Hourglass Cosmetics pledged, with support of parent company Unilever, to create a completely vegan line of cosmetics, which the brand achieved in 2020. Messaging from Hourglass Cosmetics regularly revolves around its vegan products and cruelty-free mission. Consumers can sign up for news and information on cruelty-free and vegan initiatives on the Hourglass website, and Hourglass Cosmetics donates “1% of annual profits from hourglasscosmetics.com to [its] partner, the Nonhuman Rights Project, a U.S. organization that works to secure fundamental rights for animals.” 
Additionally, the brand continues to evolve its vegan mission, recently releasing a new red, “bug-free” lipstick. “Luxury beauty brand Hourglass Cosmetics recently launched Confession Refillable Lipstick Red 0, a true red lipstick shade made with vegan carmine. The cruelty-free brand worked with its parent company Unilever for three years to develop a vegan alternative to carmine — an ingredient used in cosmetics and foods for its red coloring,” reported Anna Starostinetskaya for VegNews. Brands that are able to connect with like-minded consumers via messaging often gain loyalty and positive word of mouth from shoppers.
Excitement about beauty products is going beyond makeup and skincare, with brands like Olive & June enticing consumers to try its range of nail polish and nail care systems by using referral and member-only discounts. Founded in 2012, Olive & June is a salon in L.A. that launched a line of manicure products in 2019, making it easier for women to give themselves manicures. (The pandemic saw a rise in consumers choosing DIY options for self-care, including nails, hair and skin.) Olive & June products can be bought directly from the Olive & June ecommerce platform, with perks and discounts offered for taking various actions, including getting a free polish for referring a friend, and free shipping plus 10% off all orders for becoming a member of the “Olive You Club.” To get the latest on new products, Olive & June shoppers can subscribe to the Olive & June newsletter, creating an opportunity for the fresh-faced brand to populate its customer database and leverage first-party data to reach consumers across a mix of digital channels.
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