How Two Beauty Startups Used Social Media to Earn Millions
“Imperfect” and “natural” probably aren’t the first words that come to mind when you think of the multi-billion dollar beauty industry. Instead, your brain might conjure up images of supermodels that look mildly confused, vaguely aroused, and unsettlingly cartoon-like. Name a mainstream beauty giant and I’ll show you a hackneyed image they’ve used to sell products.
This kind of marketing is slowly being edged out by digital first beauty wunderkinds Glossier and Frank Body. Gone are the days you had to pack your product in pastel pink packaging for it to qualify as the best collagen cream for face. The beauty industry is now moving towards a less contrived and more transparent future. These two beauty companies use an e-commerce-only, direct-to-consumer business model and sell wildly popular, tightly edited skin care lines. Oh, and they both launched on Instagram.
Willow & Blake’s Frank Body catapulted into social media stardom with its all natural, coffee-based exfoliant and clever storytelling. Since the brand debuted on Instagram in 2013, it’s attracted almost 700,000 loyal followers and has expanded from a single product to a thoughtfully curated face and body care line. Frank’s first and most popular product– its original coffee scrub now sells reportedly once every 40 seconds. I’ll let you calculate how much profit they reel in.
What differentiates Frank from its competitors? For one, the company exists because its founders were bored with the beauty industry. So many beauty brands operate from a very distant position; they’re removed from the reality and their customers. Just how does Frank get in touch with reality you ask? Social media!
Frank’s tongue in check personality combined with messy imagery engages customers by the hundreds of thousands. This is evidenced by the rows on rows of user-generated context that exists under various hashtags across social media.
#lets be frank
The shower is nice and clean.
I think I’ll scrub in tonight.
One more key component to the company’s success on social media seems to lie upon it’s no frills mission statement:
“Let’s be frank, skin care should be simple.”
Emily Weiss, founder, and CEO of New York City-based beauty start up Glossier had this to say. “Women today are more educated than ever before. The internet, forums, reviews, Instagram, everything has made it incredibly easy for women to be their own beauty experts should they choose.”
Glossier launched on Instagram on 2014-before the brand had a logo, headquarters or even a product for sale and has since acquired over 100,000 enthusiastic followers. The brand’s digital presence is filled with imagery of natural-looking women (visible pores and freckles spared from Photoshop), including a bevy of relaxed customer’s selfies. Instead of deploying the old “Build and they will come strategy, Weiss opted for something along the lines of
“Come, and together we will build.”
“The point of Glossier is to democratize beauty,” says Weiss. “Glossier does that by having consistent, open conversation with our customers. That’s something that happens so organically online, but doesn’t really happen in a department store.”
This goal of involving customers online, so much so that Weiss fondly calls them her co-inspirators. It is this kind of online strategy that has piqued the interest of venture capitalists — in a big way. Weiss has raised over $10 Million after two rounds of funding.