Beauty Companies Embracing Social Media in the US

Companies today face challenges in reaching the customer. Thirty years ago, advertisers could have reached most of the US population by advertising on the three TV networks and the Sunday newspaper. Now, Americans have access to 300+ cable channels and increasingly avoid TV commercials by using DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) to skip over advertisements. Some avoid the TV set altogether by watching TV shows on their computer via Additionally, young Americans do not read newspapers and obtain their news through news websites, Facebook, and blogs.

Social media websites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are becoming more ubiquitous in the daily lives of consumers. Facebook statistics show that it has over 140 million active users in the USA, and the average user is connected to about 130 friends. Blogs have also exploded in popularity as people seek to express themselves, befriend those with common interests, and possibly gain fame and fortune. With the rise of “citizen journalism”, aided by better camera and video on smartphones and the growth of blogs, consumers are increasingly making themselves heard on Facebook and customer review websites like and

While Americans tend to ignore claim made by advertisers, they will readily believe their friends and family. Increasingly, shoppers are relying on positive and negative word-of-mouth recommendations from online “friends”. In some cases, the consumer ends up “promoting” for the company through positive word-of-mouth on Facebook and Twitter that is spread virally. The beauty industry has begun to immerse itself in social media in an effort to better reach its customers and gain brand advocates for its brand. Social media is being successfully used by beauty and personal care manufacturers and retailers as a way to maintain brand loyalty, bring smaller brands to the forefront, and assist in product launches at a relatively low price.

Old Spice Guy gets lots of buzz from social media

For large companies such as Procter & Gamble, social media is not a replacement for paid advertising but a complement to it. Procter & Gamble created the “Smell Like A Man, Man” campaign for its Old Spice body wash. The TV advertisements featured shirtless actor (and former NFL receiver) Isaiah Mustafa and premiered shortly before the February 2010 “Super Bowl”. Viewers liked the Old Spice Guy’s humour and generated positive word-of-mouth about the video. To keep up the excitement for the brand, the company’s advertising agency invited consumers to ask questions for Old Spice Guy on Twitter and Facebook in June 2010. Over a 48-hour period, the agency created about 200 personalised YouTube video responses starring Mustafa to questions posed by both celebrities, such as @KevinRose (Digg founder), @Alyssa_Milano (“Charmed”), and average consumers. The video recipients then retweeted the Old Spice videos leading to even more exposure for the brand. The Old Spice YouTube channel has become the number one sponsored channel and generated over 200 million views.  Additionally, print advertising and FSIs (free-standing inserts with coupons) were used. This advertising and social media campaign had the effect of creating positive word-of-mouth,  modernising a brand that had been seen as their father’s and grandfather’s brand, and increasing sales for Old Spice body wash and deodorants in 2010.

 Using social media to target younger consumers

Reaching younger consumers is a big aspect of many social media campaigns. Unilever has been using Internet initiatives for many years in order to reach AXE’s young male audience. AXE continued its tradition of innovative marketing for the August 2010 launch of the AXE Music line of body spray, shower gel and shampoo. Initially teaming with spokes-model and hip-hop/rap star T.I., AXE hosted a series of secret “One Night Only” concerts. AXE gained numerous fans because consumers had to follow AXE on Facebook and Twitter pages in order to get last-minute details on the concerts.

Estée Lauder also pursued Facebook users when it launched the “Your Face Your Style Your Profile” makeover/digital photo programme in department stores in fall 2009. The company recognised that young women as well as women in Estée Lauder’s 35-55 core audience are joining Facebook in droves but are often unhappy with their profile photos. To remedy this situation and get younger women to try Estee Lauder products and talk about them afterwards on Facebook, the company offered a free makeover and professional digital photo with retouching. As a result of this event, Estée Lauder was able to receive extensive coverage in blogs as well as bring in younger customers to the Estée Lauder counter. The programme has been popular enough that it is still being offered as of June 2011.

Beauty entrepreneurs turn to social media

Small companies are turning to social media because it is less expensive than traditional TV and print media. Former fashion and beauty journalist Karen Robinovitz turned to social media to launch her company Purple Lab in 2009 on a small budget. She used YouTube, Twitter (@PurpleLabNYC), Facebook, and blogger outreach to launch her first product, Huge Lips Skinny Hips, a plumping lip gloss with appetite suppressant Hoodia. To build buzz for her colour cosmetics line, Karen went beyond the traditional press kit and samples to create interactive events for beauty bloggers, Purple Lab Twitter followers, YouTube subscribers, and Facebook fans. One event included burlesque lessons that were inspired by the lip gloss colour Skinny “Kitty Poledancer”. In turn, many of the invited bloggers and fans later posted videos of the event for free. According to the company’s advertising agency, these and other social media initiatives resulted in 180 million media impressions for the brand and orders from retailers including Fred Segal and Ulta after six months. Home shopping channel HSN also placed an order. For the February 2010 Purple Lab launch on HSN, Purple Lab hosted a launch party at a New York City nightclub and sent webcams and free product to beauty bloggers so they could host their own launch parties. During one show, Karen demonstrated the product in HSN’s Florida TV studio, while talking to women at parties in NYC and elsewhere through Skype video.

Retailers are also embracing social media. Beauty specialist retailer Sephora is a big user of social media. Its website offers numerous product reviews written by customers. The company has a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter page (@Sephora), and a YouTube channel. Sephora has maintained a blog “beauty & the blog” since January 2004, where its contributors write about new products, share before and after makeover photos, and post YouTube videos.

Future Outlook

Social media marketing is here to stay, but still has plenty of room for growth. Innovations will arise as more companies become comfortable spending advertising money and interacting with their growing consumer base through social media websites. Beauty and personal care companies must be continually involved in developing their channels of communication to grow along with their consumer base. As global sales of smartphones outpace feature phones, social media in the mobile arena will become increasingly important. Companies need to be able to create applications that are engaging and worthwhile for consumers. OPI Products Inc’s Apple iPhone app (launched in February 2010) allows consumers to play and virtually “try on” OPI’s 200+ shades on their nails.

Mobile m-commerce is the next frontier as companies seek to convince consumers to make a purchase while on-the-go. In August 2010, Sephora introduced the SephoraMobile website to facilitate purchases using a smartphone. SephoraMobile also lets consumers interact with the company and other consumers by allowing them to post a question on Sephora’s Facebook page. The retailer followed in October with the Beauty-to-Go app for the Apple iPhone that allows consumers to scan product barcodes and watch instructional videos.


HBA22011 Join Euromonitor International at HBA Global Expo 2011, held June 28-30 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. HBA Global Expo provides the top personal care and beauty manufacturers with the entire spectrum of new ingredients, solutions, supplier resources as well as world-class education to help bring new products and innovate concepts to market.

Euromonitor International Senior Research Analyst Virginia Lee will present “Trends in the European Market” on Wednesday, June 29 from 1:30-2:45pm. She will be joined by Judy Galloway, Managing Partner of G-Group Marketing, and Wendy Lewis, President of Wendy Lewis Beauty on the panel. Click here to learn more about this presentation. Virginia will also discuss trends in global beauty retailing at the Trend Spot Theater in the exhibit hall on Wednesday from 3:30-4:15pm.

Euromonitor International will also be exhibiting at booth #376, near the Trend Spot Theater. Stop by to learn more about our beauty and personal care research.

Register today and receive 30% off your conference pass plus a FREE exhibits hall pass.  Register online at and to save use priority code: GPSE.

To learn more about HBA Global Expo 2011, please click here.