Festival Intelligence: Beauty marketing gets a digital face-lift | M&M Global

Festival Intelligence: Beauty marketing gets a digital face-lift

In a world where the ‘selfie-generation’ holds all the power, brands are no longer in control. With consumers increasingly looking to visual social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube to seek out beauty advice and inspiration, beauty and cosmetics brands have no choice but to follow the crowd, turning their focus to digitally-focused marketing in new and exciting ways to capture their attention.  

Beauty is big business. According to Zion Market Research, the global cosmetics market is expected to reach $863bn by 2024, growing at a CAGR of just over 7% between 2018-2024. But social media and the rise of influencers has completely disrupted the way that consumers engage with beauty brands and ushered in a totally new business model.  

Millennial women are a highly sought-after demographic for beauty and cosmetics advertisers, it, and they know it. They are savvy, skeptical of being marketed toward, and strong in their opinions and brand preferences. You can’t pull the wool over their eyes and so brands have woken up to the fact that they need to create real, authentic experiences in the digital world.

“Our consumers are at the heart of the business and we work tirelessly to offer products and services they want and need,” said Stephane Berube, CMO at L’Oreal. “They are now in the driver’s seat – they are no longer going to be told what to do or what to buy. They know what they want and they will interact with brands how they want.”

Beauty certainly made its mark on the Festival of Media Global (FOMG) Awards 2019 shortlist, with a range of brands featuring across key categories including ‘Best Branded Content’, ‘Best Engagement Strategy’ and ‘Best Local Execution of a Global Brand’, as well as ‘Best Use of Gamification’, ‘Best Multi-screen Campaign’ and ‘Best Use of Content’. Fifty-six percent were implemented in China, with the remaining entries split between the US (22%) and Israel (22%).  

With a strong focus on content, the FOMG shortlisted award entries illustrate how brands are moving away from unrealistic, stereotypical perceptions of beauty to using real people in their advertising telling genuine stories and sharing experiences that consumers can relate to. That’s not to say that influencers didn’t have a role to play but the combination of them alongside ordinary people added a different layer to campaigns.

The cosmetics industry has become much more focused on inclusivity with new product launches catering for every demographic, and marketing campaigns highlighting the diverse nature of consumers of all sizes and ages. The FOMG Awards entries also touched on the themes of diversity, inclusivity and consumer empowerment, showing that marketers are constantly attuned to what beauty lovers are telling them that they want.

With shopping behaviours shifting towards e-commerce, the use of content is lending itself perfectly to creating a direct ecommerce link that many brands have taken advantage of through mobile gaming to shoppable content series’ pop-up stores, and more. Interactivity was also key, not just in the online world but in the physical space too. 

New technology has made it easy for beauty lovers to access trends, looks, content and experiences and beauty brands are leading the charge when it comes to experimenting with new technologies. Campaigns used a range of techniques and innovations – including artificial intelligence (AI), face scanning technology, augmented reality (AR) mirrors, eye tracking movement detectors and lenticular advertising. This is reflective of the move towards personalisation and digital engagement, driving themes for the cosmetics industry on the whole.

“There are many experiments in the field of the ‘smart and tech beauty’ products. Another interesting trend is customised beauty when the customer can literally create a perfect product for his or her skin type,” said Yana Bushmeleva, chief operating officer at Fashionbi, which provides a range of data and insights in the fashion & luxury industry.

Beauty and cosmetics brands have had to go through a huge transformation in how they speak and listen to consumers. There’s no one size fits all approach but beauty brands can ‘keep it real’ with these super savvy consumers through genuine, authentic, interactive content and partnerships, brought to life through new tech to build a two-way channel of engagement.  

We put the spotlight on two Festival of Media Global Awards 2019 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:


Helping girls shine in virtual world and in reality | Maybelline (L’Oreal) | Mindshare | China

Shortlisted for: Best Engagement Strategy (SILVER WINNER), Best Use of Gamification (SILVER WINNER)


“A transformational look” is a big part of Maybelline’s DNA. Girls from tier 3-5 cities in China (essentially non-provincial capitals) love makeup just as much as women in top tier cities like Shanghai or Beijing. But transformation for these women, who are more detached from the international fashion, doesn’t necessarily mean the over the top looks presented in most make-up advertising including Maybelline’s global advertising. To make them love the brand, it needed to translate the idea of transformation into something they can relate to: a deliberate and confident transformation, the best version of themselves.

To do this, Mindshare needed to find the right platform to deliver Maybelline’s DNA genuinely. It helped these girls shine both virtually and in reality. The brand collaborated with QQ Dancing, one of China’s most popular social games with 300 million gamers all over the country: 70% of them being young women and 90% from 3-5 tier cities. Online, it created a virtual Maybelline Girl makeup template with the newly launched lipstick in the game for girls to select for their avatar. Offline, it turned Maybelline stores into QQ dancing hubs to actually help girls to wear Maybelline Girl makeup in reality and live-streamed the entire process to engage a broader audience.

To engage young women, Maybelline developed a new feature where they can scan their face via their mobile camera, so their game avatars can instantly have the same facial features. These young women could then customise their avatars using three shades of Maybelline’s virtual lipsticks, along with a Maybelline Girl look. Since the avatars danced together in the game, young women could see each other’s avatars, and they could showcase their beautiful Maybelline look while on the virtual stage. The virtual lipsticks in the game actually led to Maybelline’s eCommerce store, so these young women could also get the same lipstick shades in real life.


Rimmel + Refinery29 “Beauty on My Block” | Rimmel (Coty) | Zenith | US

Shortlisted for: Best Use of Content


For the last 50 years, the iconic face of beauty has traditionally been a blonde Caucasian woman with blue eyes. If a young woman in the US grew up and didn’t fit that architype, it was almost impossible for her to see a version of herself reflected in cosmetics advertising. With Rimmel’s US repositioning, a lot of time was spent analysing who “she” is and “what” she is looking for. Through analysis of consumer data and retail channels, it discovered that its highest volume customers weren’t Caucasian, blonde or even blue eyed – she’s Hispanic or African American.

The multicultural consumer is bold, brave and breaking the glass ceiling every day through culture and social movements, born from the communities, streets and schools in which they live. Carving out a space for brand loyalty with them would require a shift in brand messaging AND brand imagery – making it about authenticity, promise and the truest reflection of their lives. It had to connect with these women on a local level and consider the fact that a single beauty trend/ look couldn’t meet the needs of these specific women. Their discovery of beauty inspiration happens across key social channels, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, as well as emerging editorial brands.

At the center of this activation was a co-created content series with Refinery29 called “Beauty on My Block”. The editorial was created to celebrate the diversity of multicultural women in Los Angeles, Houston, Tampa and Chicago, top performing markets for the brand, and the makeup looks that were, literally, coming from the street. The agency tapped into a network of multicultural influencers to recreate the looks & trends and amplify them across Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. At the same time, it seeded exclusive content, not seen anywhere else, across Rimmel’s owned and social channels. It also activated three local experiential events with Refinery29, all with incredibly Instagram worthy exhibits, to create a social community around Rimmel while also getting product in the hands of consumers.

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