Beyond The Grid: How Beauty Brands Use Instagram

5 Min Read |

In recent years beauty brands have allocated increasing resources to social media marketing. In terms of budget and effort, online platforms have drawn more energy from marketing teams; and Instagram is often their primary focus.

Experts from market research firm Euromonitor International credit the significant increase in beauty industry sales to social media marketing. In the Middle East North Africa region consumers spent a combined US$24.2 billion in 2018 on items such as fragrances (US$5.7 million), colour cosmetics (US$4.3 million), skincare (US$4.5 million) men’s grooming (US$3.5 million) and haircare (US$6.2 million).

Euromonitor International’s 2017 Beauty Survey found that 1 in 7 consumers who purchased a color cosmetics product were influenced to do so by social media, and 1 in 8 shoppers purchasing skincare products attributed their choice to social media too.

We know that a vast number of beauty brands can now be found on Instagram. It provides an ideal ground for visual marketing and customer connection. With around 200 million beauty fans accounting for 25% of the platform’s total users it’s clear that there is a primed audience looking for new brands to follow, interact with, share, and buy from. But the creative and marketing potential extends beyond the Instagram feed or a brand’s personal grid; and new features offer fresh ways to capture consumer attention and loyalty.

Here’s a breakdown of the ways in which established and startup beauty brands are using Instagram.

Designing Products With Visual Appeal

Brands harness the visual power of Instagram by focusing on the way products look in photographs. Packaging is designed specifically to stand out and appeal to a social media audience. This reflects shopping trends, as consumers are now likely to be viewing product packaging online, as opposed to on the shelves of a bricks-and-mortar store.

Social media influencers Marianna Hewitt and Lauren Gores Ireland launched a beauty line called Summer Fridays. Well versed in Instagram success, they knew that their product packaging had to be photo-friendly; Hewitt said “even if we loved the product, if it wasn’t photogenic, we wouldn’t want to put it on our Instagram.” So the pair carefully designed their face mask tubes with Instagram in mind; the tubes are slim with a shape that allows them to be laid flat, and a logo that remains readable even after the tube has been squeezed.

Glossier redesigned its mask jars with online ‘unboxing videos’ in mind. The lids now have a reworked Glossier logo on them, as they’re the first thing seen in a video when the box is opened. And other brands go beyond the packaging and design the product itself with visual appeal in mind. For example, sheet face masks are now often printed with graphics, rather than being plain white. And e.l.f. Cosmetics promotes products that the Ellie Off, the brand’s vice president of innovation, says are both “entertaining and delightful to use”; such as its magnetic mask.

Sharing Product Information and Video Tutorials

Instagram Stories provide the perfect space for brands to share product information. New products can be introduced with a simple break down of ingredients, features and methods for use. Glossier uses this technique regularly as part of product launch marketing strategy.

Benefit published regular videos on IGTV — among its most viewed is a video that helps viewers match their eyebrow shade to products within the brand’s Brow collection. L’Oreal uses Instagram Stories to demonstrate makeup looks using models, including a CTA so that viewers can click straight onto the product on the company’s ecommerce site.

By creating content which offers genuine value and learning opportunities to their audience, brands gain consumer trust. Users understand the products better and discover different ways of using them, and of matching them to personal attributes; and through storytelling and visual engagement users feel a deeper affinity with the brand.

Video tutorials are an effective way to enhance this learning and storytelling experience and encourage customer loyalty. Along with its brow matching video which has been viewed more than 41,000 times, Benefit published how-to videos on a regular basis. And Fenty runs weekly ‘Get the Look’ tutorials by Pricilla Ono, Rihanna’s makeup artist, which sometimes even feature Rihanna as the model.

Videos like this enable brands to communicate ‘best use’ methods for making the most of their products — which, in turn, increases consumer satisfaction and repeat purchasing. But they also offer a sense of personal connection and immediate engagement that simply isn’t possible with printed instructions included the box.

Significantly, research by Collective Bias found that 30% of beauty consumers are more likely to buy a product that was promoted by a ‘regular’ person than one promoted by a celebrity. Which leads to our final point.

Encouraging Users to Generate Content

Beauty influencers and everyday consumers with their own Instagram accounts are marketing gold for beauty brands.

Content which shows real consumers using a brand’s products is highly effective when it comes to encouraging new purchasers to take the plunge. Brands are catching onto this; Revlon regularly features images and video of customers using its products; and Glossier pins customer’s Instagram stories featuring the brand’s products to its ‘Highlights’ every week.

Engaging with and featuring user generated content encourages users to post about a brand’s products and to tag the brand in posts. By rewarding those who share publicly about a product, a brand solidifies loyalty and lets other customers know that they too could be featured and promoted directly if they post about a favorite product. This kind of authentic and organic marketing is huge when it comes to a brand’s credibility and consumer trust.

Instagram Stories allow for a variety of ways to connect with consumers. Polls in Stories mean that brands can collect opinions from followers, and hosting giveaways or competitions for a featured spot on a brand’s Instagram grid promotes even more active engagement.

When it comes to engagement, there’s one more thing that sets brands apart in the eyes of its audience: conversation. Brands including Glossier, Onomie and Milk encourage lively discussions within the comments of their Instagram posts — so consumers feel involved, listened to, and inspired.

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