Decoded Beauty: II (Mintel)
In anticipation of the upcoming Decoded Beauty Summit, guest blogger Grace Howard with Decoded Fashion considers how brands can build strong, authentic editorial content for the beauty industry in a digital world.
Most editorial content is now consumed digitally and, what’s more, consumers want to consume this content whenever they like, on whatever device. This has the potential to be problematic for the beauty industry, which is quickly realizing that a fresh generation of customers want their products to have a story behind them and want their favorite brands to have a distinct, relatable voice.
This changing landscape means that now, beauty brands are turning to editorial content to build a sense of authenticity around their names. And then there are the beauty-focused publications, who once excelled in print format, but are now moving online in order to keep up with their competitors – some are even turning their hand to ecommerce, using their existing editorial authority to build a rapport with their new customers. Here are a handful of brands who are working to develop strong editorial content for the beauty industry.
L’OREAL MAKES A WORTHWHILE GAMBLE WITH UNBRANDED CONTENT
L’Oreal’s decision to launch its online beauty hub, FAB Beauty, in March 2016 was met with raised eyebrows because the site’s USP was its total lack of branded content. FAB – an acronym for ‘flair’, ‘artistry’ and ‘beauty’ – plays host to beauty-focused editorial content with an overwhelming authentic feel. Are there any glaring signs of L’Oreal’s involvement on FAB Beauty’s website? No. But, while an argument certainly exists against creating a site that promotes rival brands’ products, FAB Beauty’s launch was far more calculated (and clever) than it might have seemed from the offset, though that’s to be expected from L’Oreal which is, after all, the world’s third biggest marketer with an estimated budget of $5.3 billion. The company is striving for authenticity, and, with FAB, it wants to approach the business of beauty with a wider outlook, rather than just blowing its own trumpet. An Verhulst-Santos, president of L’Oreals professional products division, has explained to AdAge that the company’s intention with FAB is “not about product destination”, but about “neutrality, experience and craft.”
FAB Beauty isn’t L’Oreal’s only attempt to create a more authentic relationship with beauty lovers. In September, it was announced that the company had created a “beauty squad” of well-known bloggers, who, with their collective reach of 5.5 million followers, will work with L’Oreal to create engaging beauty content across various social media channels. “Consumers will walk away from influencers that have been bought by brands, where there is no story behind it or are doing just one-offs … we want to shift the industry towards something that is more genuine,” L’Oreal UK’s GM, Adrien Koskas, told Marketing Week.
STYLECASTER’S REVAMPED SITE SPEAKS TO THE ‘MODERN WOMAN WITH A STORY’
SheKnows Media’s lifestyle, style and beauty site, Stylecaster, was fully relaunched in January 2016, and in May, SheKnows reported a 92% increase in visitors since June 2015, with the site pulling in around 4.7 million unique visitors per month. So, how did they do it? Stylecaster’s rebooted platform boasts a fresh, redesigned site, ecommerce and video capabilities, a new logo and a smoother experience for mobile visitors. The content being produced by the site is different, too, and is surely a key factor in its recent success – like FAB Beauty, there’s a distinct editorial voice at play.
StyleCaster has invested heavily in the development of its beauty content, and earlier this year hired Lauren Carusa, former Senior Digital Editor of beauty magazine Allure, as its Beauty Director. Carusa’s role, she told Publishers Daily, is to expand StyleCaster’s beauty presence and speak to the “modern woman with a story”, something which she feels has been lacking in StyleCaster’s previous beauty output.
MARIE CLAIRE BANKS ON ITS EDITORIAL EXPERTISE TO GENERATE TRUST
As beauty brands are creating standalone beauty editorial, it’s natural that printed publications are going online to do so, too. In September, Marie Claire utilized Ocado’s ecommerce platform to launch its own one-stop beauty shop, Fabled. As well as a standalone store, Fabled has an online presence which, thanks to its strong editorial content, positions the venture as a formidable rival to other online beauty retailers. Instead of being shuttered into a dedicated section of the website, editorial content is integrated seamlessly throughout the site.
Marie Claire being a household name has undoubtedly given Fabled a head start compared to other new beauty platforms; part of the battle to build up a reputation has already been won, as Fabled has Marie Claire’s voice of authority and expertise on its side. “We speak to thousands of women every day at Marie Claire and have done for the past 27 years, so we are uniquely placed to understand and anticipate their changing needs,” Marie Claire’s MD of fashion and beauty, Justine Southall, told Essential Retail.