Several virtual events took place during the CEW 2020 Beauty Awards, including the roundtable discussion "Cultivating Digital Communities" on November 16th.
Glossier's senior vice president of marketing, Ali Weiss, and HUDA Beauty's vice president of integrated marketing, Michael McNeil, shared insight into the success of their companies.
Glossier and Huda Beauty were also CEW's Indie winners. Glossier FutureDew is the Indie Beauty Award winner. Huda Beauty Mercury Retrograde is this year’s Indie Makeup Beauty winner.
Moderator Andrea Nagel, vice president of content, CEW, began the roundtable discussion asking how each company directs its marketing strategy.
Weiss said the first iteration of Glossier was Into the Gloss, and it generated significant feedback from commenters on Instagram. The brand's face wash and skin primer were developed based on qualities consumers sought—giving way to additional products based on the communities' interests.
As Glossier grew, so did its product line, utilizing intelligence from consumers to decide how to continue. This ongoing conversation comprised the basic structure of the platform.
HUDA Beauty's McNeil said the brand started as a blog when the company’s founder, Huda Kattan, had lost her job and wanted to pursue another path of interest. She created her blog to answer everyday questions about beauty, and used the information to start the business in 2013.
Listening is Key—And More TipsGathering information was key to the start of both Glossier and Huda Beauty, all the while, keeping the consumer’s interest at the heart of the conversation.
Listening to the audience is an essential part of developing the platform. “For Glossier, or any brand, you really need to be listening to your community and keeping their emotion as your north star,” said Weiss. “We have to continually adjust how we listen,” she said. Weiss also stated the importance of being aware of how marketing channels change, so their story can be told in ways that resonate with the consumer at a given time.
Engage in a ConversationMcNeil attributed the early success of Huda Beauty to the company’s ability to have conversations with their audience. “The communication between Huda and their customers is how Huda became a beauty destination and a lift-off for the brand,” said McNeil.
While meaningful communication is key, Weiss said it isn’t just brand connection with consumers, but consumers connection with other consumers. “I’m not sure the measurements of social engagement are sufficient. Ultimately it is the meaningful connection beyond that, including personal information. The hypothesis is that measurements aren’t necessarily that meaningful, but experience with the brand, and the gauge of sales are strong indicators,” said Weiss.
McNeil said, “We focus on net providers, social metrics, repeated interactions between our customers and themselves. So, the goal is the constant obsession to have a beauty conversation. We really go in and spot check how our consumers are interacting with each other, and how we are communicating with them.” He observed how amazing it was to have consumers come back to you, and how they also go back to speak with them as much as possible. “That’s where the grassroots efforts come in to keep them engaged,” he said.
He discussed Earned Media Value (EMV), to help the company, by looking at Twitter and Tik Tok, and others, noting those were key ways to look at a young or socially savvy brand. This is a way to see how the touch points are engaging and what percentage of the conversation the company is occupying.
Ensure Your Brand Resonates with ConsumersBeyond media, Weiss said they had developed a road map to gauge how the community impacts their product development, sometimes directly and sometimes implicitly. “We look to our community for inspiration, and we’re ultimately inspired by the individual narrative. We try to involve them in all touch points, and we work hard to analyze and quantify,” said Weiss. “It’s how all the elements are integrated. Our direct to consumer touch points are not an afterthought. They are key to the narrative,” she said.
McNeil discussed how In Real Life (IRL) they bring everything together. They have built an integrated marketing plan to represent their beauty, skin care, and fragrance areas, which include an experiential component, allowing them to speak to consumers IRL. “So, it is both digital and bespoke experiences that are important. Our big thing is to have the conversation, and we invest our dollars and development there; keeping it digital, but bringing it into a vertical, which may be food or fitness,” said McNeil. “This brings added value.”
Nagel mentioned seeing Glossier sweatshirts on women recently, to which Weiss replied, “These sweatshirts are a sign that if people resonate with your brand, it will go further.” McNeil said it was important to look at what you’re selling and who you are selling to.
As far as an Influencer, you need to determine if this person is right for your brand. “It is essential to have a parallel ideology or philosophy. You’ll know if they embody your brand,” said McNeil. Weiss agreed, saying, “It’s a bit of an art and science. Make sure your goals are mutually agreed upon. Ultimately, the consumer wants something that is authentically representing themselves.”
Find Inspiration & Make ConnectionsInspiration comes from a range of sources. “We have a few different social channels and over 50 million followers and consumers all over the world. We reach out to these people and get inspiration from them. They will turn you on to other brands, esoteric things, certain looks and feels, and indie brands that are being disruptive. For me it’s the nitty gritty conversation that yields super unexpected results,” said McNeil.
Weiss emphasized connection to the community, saying, “We find ways to connect people to each other, how we can share a variety of beauty routines, and the relationship with our community. We gain inspiration from them.” She cited Tik Tok as a powerful marketing tool. “There’s always a new channel to create content for. It’s always a surprise to tackle new channels,” said Weiss.
In response to what area has surprised him most, McNeil said, “Skin care has been great for Huda beauty. The focus on complexion using color cosmetics is exciting for us now, and we saw this opportunity as being on trend. Consumers are using complexion makeup now, and our content and offerings have shifted a bit. It’s always interesting to see consumer behavior changing.”
At another CEW Beauty Awards virtual event, NPD's Larissa Jensen presented the 'Feel Good Trends' that shaped the beauty industry this year.
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