Why aren’t you into makeup? It was made for you.

I am really excited about this week’s topic. I want to discuss what the beauty industry does behind the scenes in preparation for a new product launch. I will begin with the process of analyzing sentiment.

In case you have been living under a rock, makeup is the brand-new buzz word. With four out of five women opting to cover their natural freckles or an unexpected breakout with makeup, how could the industry be considered so controversial?

It is 2018! With megastars like Alicia Keys standing for natural beauty and the #NoMakeup movement, the industry is facing a “trial by Twitter.” Of course, to an industry that is projected to be valued at over $800 billion in the next five years, criticism is just a part of the territory. To me, the beauty industry is like the best lip plumper in the market, thriving.

The “no-makeup makeup” is a huge trend and has overtaken the original stance of #NoMakeup. I agree this is somewhat disheartening; what was a very powerful movement has been buried under CC cream and ultra-lightweight foundation. What most people don’t know, is just about every campaign was carefully crafted to adhere to the response of the last one.  Meaning, nearly everything from foundation to nail-polish was planned around the latest trends.

What happens after all this sentiment data has been collected? If the company wants to be successful, it should continue by doing more research. According to Forbes, the first four out of 17 steps anyone should take before launching a product, are centered around having an intimate understanding of your audience. Social listening should be utilized, and with the help of platforms like Meltwater and Twitter, it is easier than ever.

For example, here is one of my recent tweets to MAC Cosmetics:

Tweet with a comment from MAC Cosmetics to Janet Diane White
Comment from MAC Cosmetics to Janet Diane White

I am sure the company deals with hundreds of mentions every day and probably has a database of automated answers, but the fact that they are listening should be what we care about.  Imagine if 100 of my friends and I stated our opinion on the company’s lack of sonic blue blush. MAC would then have a choice, to either make the desired blue blush or not.

For argument’s sake, let’s say the company is moving forward with launching the blue blush. One of the next steps would include creating a demo or tester. After successfully completing the product safety testing and quality control, it is time to spend the blush out to the company’s list of influencers. In a perfect world, each influencer is loving and raving about the blush, and their audiences are ecstatic about the innovation.

Before MAC officially launches its sonic blue blush, the company should ask itself “why,” one more time. Why does the world need this blue blush? Why do people want a blue blush? Why did we create a blue blush? The fact is, the answers to these questions can be found with research, and MAC should be obligated to answer them without hesitation.

It is go time; the blue blush has hit the market. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and there are a few loud disapproval’s. Good thing the company did its research and has already blocked @WeHateBlue because of its habit of publicly posting inappropriate comments.

Congratulations! You now have a foundation on how to do a new product launch. What are you going to launch next? I encourage you to read the entire, “17 Steps to Take Before You Launch a Product,” and then let me know what you think the next biggest trend will be.


If You’re Not Buying It I Am

Hopefully, you know by now that this blog is focused on the public relations happening within the beauty industry. I am going to let you in on a little secret. This secret, if executed correctly is worth millions of dollars. Now that I have your attention, let us discuss product endorsements.  

I will start off by asking you a simple question. If you had the option to pay for a collection of Dior’s newest makeup products or get the entire collection for free, what would you choose? I think, like me, you would choose to get it for free. Well, what if I then told you Dior is giving away millions of dollars worth of free products that it only hopes the public will see. 

The Business Dictionary defines product endorsement as, “a written or public statement by a celebrity, business or professional group extolling the virtues of a product and recommending the use of the product to the public.” Of course with the overwhelming advances in social media, product endorsements have gone rampant. Product endorsement is very simple, get an influencer to like your product then hope they tell everyone they know about it in what could be the most lucrative tactic for earned media. I can think of a couple of examples, such as your favorite beauty guru telling you how much they love wearing the newest NARS Cosmetics Blush.

woman sitting on bed with MacBook on lap
Photo by Victoria Heath

Product endorsement skates the fine lines between public relations, advertising, and marketing. In the article, “How Brands Should Use Celebrities For Endorsements,” author Steve Olenski says “even small businesses would be foolish to resist the mere exploration of celebrity influencers to promote their brand.”  Unlike marketing and advertising, public relations focuses on organic endorsement and the goal is to build authentic relationships.

For example, Dior cosmetics reaches out to a well-known beauty influencer. In the message, Dior may say something about how much the company enjoys the influencer’s content and offers to send them new products from its latest collection. The influencer agrees and to the influencers surprise, Dior has sent them not only one but two overnight packages. One for the influencer and another to share. Excited and impressed by the quality of the product, the influencer gets on social media and tells everyone they know about the generosity of Dior. What Dior has done here is what Dr. Regina Luttrell mentions in, “Social Media – How to Engage, Share, and Connect,” as “engaging genuinely and effectively.” 

In the example above, Dior only paid for overnight shipping. Then to the joy of both parties, the collection got fully endorsed through word-of-mouth. This action done by the company will hopefully encourage engagement and generate higher sales. Of course, this is the best case scenario for any product endorsement campaign.

A recent article from Market Watch, says current consumers are sophisticated and crave a connection with the “rich and powerful.” Think of your favorite influencer. Mine at the moment is Patricia Bright. Bright is a beauty, lifestyle and fashion vlogger with millions of followers. After watching her latest, PR unboxing video, I realized just how much most beauty companies are reaching out to influencers and creating these strategic relationships that encourage a somewhat organic product endorsement. To be honest, at the end of each video or well-placed post, if you are not buying it I am.  

Feeling the Surface of Beauty

Just in case you missed Newhouse’s conversation on Social Media & Democracy – Activism in the Digital Age featuring professors Biko Mandela Gray, Dwight Dewerth-Pallmeyer, and Tia C.M. Tyree. I will fill you in because the conversation got me thinking about how much social media shapes our perception of beauty as a society.

All three speakers spoke about how the pace of social media does not allow for critical thinking. After hearing this, I asked myself if I could imagine a world that would allow a person to make critical decisions, that could affect millions of people, while only having the single qualification of looking good. Unfortunately, as pointed out in some of the conversations being had about activism, the world has given power to people that offer a lot less.

Please do not get me wrong, I love a good looking person just as much as the next girl, but what really turns me on is an authentic person. This person would be similar to Dr. Gray in the fact that he was able to articulate complex injustices surrounding civic engagement, the #MeToo movement and even the ever eluded history of black people in America. His fluency and knowledge are concepts I believe our new age is missing.

To support my suspicion of a misinformed new age, Dr. Tyree, went on to talk about how smart smartphones are. Think about your phone, is there something it cannot do or at least give you the answer to? Don’t worry, I am having a tough time thinking of something too.

While we are on the topics of smartphones, social media and since my entire blog is focused on public relations within the beauty industry, let us talk about Instagram. I am sure you have heard that every picture posted on Instagram is fake. Not in the idea that whatever photographed does not exist, but instead the photo itself gives a false depiction of what is truly happening.

woman in makeup
Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

For example, take this photo of an absolutely gorgeous woman. Personally, I do not know who took this photo, why they took it, or how long it took to take, but what I do know is how it makes me feel. Feelings are a concept that comes up quite often in public relations because as Dr. Regina Luttrell mentions in her book, Social Media – How to Engage, Share, and Connect, our number one rule as an influencer is to ‘follow, listen and react.’ After listening to social experts and data, this photo of a happy person makes most people feel sad.

If you ask me to describe how this photo makes me feel, I would have to say, envious. Whether it is how she has managed to pull off a purple lip, or how big her smile is, the picture is perfect. Dr. Dewerth-Pallmeyer said the cure to this sort of picture envy could be to simply turn off the screen. As a millennial, I find it hard to turn off any screen before 1 a.m. Not just because I am waiting for the latest new Jeffree Star approved beauty product; I also often choose to use my smartphone to stay up-to-date on current events, on a wide range of topics because as Dr. Tyree put it “social media is the medium of the moment.”

The New Face of Beauty.

I think it is safe to say that we all know the beauty industry is one of the most profitable businesses in the world. In 2016, the U.S. cosmetics industry alone brought in over 62.4 billion dollars in revenue. Of course, there are many reasons that can account for the success of any industry or business, one of which is the beauty industry’s use of social media influencers.

I was born in 1993, so I remember the time when cellphones did not have internet; my first experience with Apple came in the form of a screen-less iPod shuffle. Though I am currently saving up for the outdated iPhone X, I want to be clear that this post is not about technology or living in the ’90s. Instead, I want to stress that the technological revolution spurred the necessity of using influencers, whether they’re beauty bloggers, vloggers (video blogger), or Instagramers, to promote beauty products.

Why is the use of influencers not only iconic but crucial to the current beauty industry? Before we explore that question, I should start out by saying, beauty influencers are not a new phenomenon and were utilized well before Cleopatra smudged her first eye pencil. 

Lucky for me, I just need to go back less than 30 years ago, when printed ads may have been at the top of any strategic public relations plan. What used to be an entire Maybelline spread only seen by a couple hundred thousand people in People magazine; is now a beauty vlogger reviewing a single Huda Beauty eye-shadow palette on YouTube, garnering around 1.2 million views. Equaling little to no cost to Huda Beauty. 

In a recent book I read, “Social Media – How to Engage, Share, and Connect,” Dr. Regina Luttrell, demonstrated how impactful a video can be when she said, “Approximately 200 million people, or roughly 76 percent of the online population, is consistently viewing video using online and mobile platforms.” 

Take this recent example; Benefit Cosmetics brought Danielle Mansutti, beauty and lifestyle influencer, on an all-expenses-paid trip to the Maldives. The trip was meant to celebrate the launch of the company’s new Bad Gal BANG mascara. Mansutti alone has over 1.5 million YouTube followers, and that vlog has over 212,000 views. Her incredible influence over her target audience brought more benefits to Benefit Cosmetics than anything they could have paid for. I think Benefit and similar companies are leading the way in taking advantage of Dr. Luttrell’s statistic and really utilizing vlogger relations. 

By now you may be wondering about what is in it for the influencers? It can be summed up with two words: sponsored content. Sponsored content is when a company monetizes a YouTube video or blog post to feature some of its products. This sort of partnership can be mutually beneficial; the influencer may get content-worthy free products and a piece of the revenue, through an affiliate link. On the other hand, the company gets more exposure, and depending on the influencer, this chosen type of advertising could be more cost-effective than more traditional advertisements, such as billboards, magazine spreads, and bus benches.

In The New Face of Beauty, where word-of-mouth may be the leading credible source, finding the right influencer is critical to the success of the beauty industry.