Bloggers influence beauty brands’ bottom lines
Bloggers, industry observers said, are making a big difference in terms of what and where consumers purchase their beauty supplies, and it is vital that manufacturers and retailers do all they can to influence these people.
It might be even more important today as the beauty segment feels the impact of declining volume at mass market outlets, and many officials look for the magic wand to get sales moving again. Nielsen data shows that beauty department sales declined 1.7% for the 52-week period ended Aug. 26, for combined in-store mass retail sales. Total dollar volume dipped from $16.6 billion to $16.3 billion.
Unit volume took a harder hit, dropping 3.4%. Compounding the issue is that these numbers do not take into consideration online sales or sales at specialty and department stores, where beauty volume is booming — suggesting customers are in the market for cosmetics may just not be going to mass doors.
The bottom line is that consumers are on the hunt for edgy, niche brands often touted on social media. Several mass retailers are rushing to add more of these up-and-coming lines — sometimes at the expense of space to traditional mass market powers. This is all occurring at a time when brands have revved up the product production machine, with Nielsen data showing rampant launch growth in skin care, cosmetics and hand/body lotions.
The top beauty executives are the first to admit that competition — whether from brands or other retail channels — has only sharpened their claws. Linda Wells, Revlon’s chief creative officer, said the niche brands have created a wake-up call to the industry. “It was a good thing that spurred us to action,” she said.
At Markwins, Bill George, president and COO of the company’s beauty brands division, added that his company is revving up innovation to maintain its shelf space.
Indeed, the beauty powers are digging in with mammoth influencer deals, social media campaigns and burnished product innovation that has not been seen in the mass market in several years. Coty, for example, was bogged down with assimilating the 41 brands it acquired from Procter & Gamble, and admittedly has not been able to focus as much as desired on its core beauty brands, such as Sally Hansen and CoverGirl. Now it is full speed ahead.
“We are one year past the merger and integration with the P&G beauty brands, and we are now well-positioned to deliver growth in this complex environment,” said Shannon Curtin, senior vice president of Coty Consumer Beauty North America. “The response from the U.S. retailers and consumers from just two of our recent relaunches — Sally Hansen and CoverGirl — has shown [that] when we reflect our Coty purpose of celebrating and liberating the diversity of beauty, [it] is overwhelmingly positive.”
CoverGirl hopes to get back in gear and regain its prominence in mass beauty. There’s a fresh logo and new tag line, called I Am What I Make Up that is nudging out the old Easy Breezy Beautiful — and a boatload of 100 new products. Katy Perry fronts a new advertising campaign, but there’s also something for everyone with five very different “cover girls,” including actress Issa Rae; influencer and chef Ayesha Curry (wife of basketball star Steph Curry); model Maye Musk (Elon’s mother); motorcycle racer Shelina Moreda; and fitness trainer Massy Arias.
At sister company Sally Hansen, modernization of the brand and marketing messages is ongoing. Recently, the brand unveiled a 40-second TV spot, a comprehensive digital campaign encompassing programmatic and banner ads, video, paid social media and influencers. That will be supported with in-store fixtures and updated décor. The message of the campaign is “self-made beauty.” The television spot features a diverse group of women, ranging in age across several generations, and highlights Sally Hansen’s product offering.
Revlon is tweaking the assortment of its flagship brand, but also putting effort behind Almay, which the company admitted had been overlooked. “Almay is getting some much-deserved love,” said Wells, the former editor in chief of Allure, who joined Revlon in early 2017.
With the tagline “Reveal the True You,” Almay is building off its heritage, but also introducing itself to a younger audience. Almay tapped four women with diverse backgrounds ranging from Hispanic to Lebanese and light to darker complexions. Their stories are showcased in video content on Instagram and Facebook. The influencers — Chachi Gonzales, Wendy Nguyen, Nadia Aboulhosn and Nikia Phoenix — have follower counts that range from 31,000 to 1.1 million. In the videos, they discuss their own challenges candidly and how there is no longer one definition of beauty.
Almay is putting effort into shining up its position in stores, in an effort to lose some space and doors that dwindled along the way. New packaging and fixtures will hype its innovation. To reflect consumer demand for wider ranges, Almay’s Smart Shade foundations will be broadened to include deeper shades for darker skin tones.
New items are planned for Clear Complexion and Truly Lasting Color, as well. The company said it also is making headway with new loose powder and blush.
For its part, Markwins’ Physicians Formula has several new items sporting such innovations as stick formulas and cohesive packaging. A major advancement this year is its return to Walgreens, which phased out the brand several years ago.
The moves from the big brands come at a time when their space is being challenged by more nimble brands, such as NYX and e.l.f., as well as private-label products that retailers are rushing to shelves. In the meantime, up-and-coming brands such as e.l.f. aren’t taking their eye off innovation. E.l.f. has expanded rapidly, getting 40% more space in Walmart, as well as expanding its reach in Walgreens.
For 2018, Mara McCune, vice president of e.l.f., identified skin care as a category with big potential. “Skin care is a huge trend right now, primarily with K-beauty-inspired items like magnetic masks, bubble masks and peel masks,” she said. “Highlighting continues to stay a steady trend to create that lit look, with new innovations in holographic and glitter for a more intense glow. At e.l.f., we work hard to bring these trends to mass first, with items like our Hydrating Bubble Mask and Gentle Peeling Exfoliant. We recently launched four colors of glitter eyeliner, as well as five colors of our Pop of Glitter Makeup Transformer Gel, a multi-use product for highlighting, or transforming any eye shadow or lip color to a sparkling metallic finish,” she said.
McCune believes drug chains will gain ground as they offer more ways to immerse shoppers in experiences and offer more education. “Shopping behaviors will continue to evolve with the advancement of technology and tools that allow shoppers to customize their shopping experience,” she said. Chains that will win will find ways to partner with brands in engaging and educating their shoppers better than anyone else.”
Brands being added to retail assortments include Burt’s Bees color cosmetics; more footage to NYX — which is posting eye-opening sales gains; Yes To; K-beauty launches; and Milani. Some merchants are putting more muscle behind their private-label logos, where they can