• 26 07 2018

The new age of beauty advertising

Brands throughout the entire beauty industry must reinvent how they reach and speak to consumers, or risk falling behind. Consumers are tired of beauty adverts making them feel inadequate. Research shows that 80% of women feel worse about themselves after looking at a beauty ad, and pressure is now being applied across the world for brands to reinvent the way they communicate with consumers. Proposed new rules by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ban stereotyping in ads and the call to ban the use of the term ‘anti-ageing’ from the cosmetics and beauty industry by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) are designed to kickstart a bigger shift away from campaigns that can be potentially harmful to people. 


A force for good

“To move on from fear tactics, brands simply need to take ownership of their communications and pledge to be a force for good,” says Laura Giffard, Founder and Client Director of brand and design consultancy Perq Studio. She notes the huge success of the #iweigh movement: “Spearheaded by Jameela Jamil, this campaign of self-love sees people all over the world posting photos listing the ways they feel valued in their lives – and none of it has anything to do with how slim they are”. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty has also brought body positivity to the fore, says Giffard. “Beauty standards are diversifying thanks to the rapid-fire spread of ideas across social media and brands need to move with the times, or get left behind.”

But these are among many other significant changes that beauty advertising has faced in recent years – mobile being the most dominant. “While beauty advertising has always captured the zeitgeist, it’s largely been a brand-led monologue,” says Giffard, but today, customers have a voice, which they use to create content and shape opinions, and incorporate social media into their purchase decisions. “We look to learn from others, regardless of the demographic factors that marketers once thought divided us. And advertising is catching up,” says Giffard. “Just look at Maybelline’s Audio Make-Up campaign which offers up a tutorial for the visually impaired, or how seemingly every mainstream cosmetic brand from CoverGirl to Rimmel is signing up a male brand ambassador. Advertising is adapting to join in with the customer-led inclusive beauty movement. And this is just the beginning.”


Influencer evolution

Beauty brands are also placing increased importance on digital earned media: 90% of beauty brands reported that their earned media budgets have increased in the past five years.

Digital advertising has also played a role in enabling niche brands to skyrocket to success. Glossier founder Emily Weiss has in fact credited 90% of her company’s dynamic revenue growth to word-of-mouth by its hyper-engaged fans, according to an article in news website Quartz. The brand now has 1.2 million followers on Instagram.

Another example is direct-to-consumer brand Beauty Pie, which has built its success on effective product, attractive design and an expert voice, and has largely been discovered through press and Instagram. But Giffard explains that this approach isn’t necessarily right for every brand. “To maintain market share large brands absolutely need to continue with above-the-line approaches to drive product awareness and entice customers.”


The key challenges

In an ever more crowded beauty market, where thousands of products launch every single week, and consumers, suffering from digital overload, actively avoid or ignore ads, the biggest advertising challenge is, quite simply, getting noticed. “There is so much noise out there and brands are fighting for attention against our ever-decreasing attention spans,” says Laura Giffard, founder and Client Director of Perq Studio. According to data from Microsoft Canada, consumers now have an average attention span of just eight seconds. 

To cut through, brands must move away from the current approach for businesses to divide their marketing efforts by channel, as this results in separate teams, often with separate visions and objectives. “Ultimately this results in disjointed messaging and an inconsistent experience for consumers. Brands need to focus on building closer, meaningful relationships with customers by putting people’s needs, wants, mindsets and behaviours at the heart of communications,” she adds.


A full version of this article has been published by Cosmetics Business.