The democratisation of the beauty business has ushered in a new wave of niche brands that are beginning to dominate the market. Cult beauty is booming, and we haven’t yet reached its peak. Here, we take a look at some of the savvy beauty brands that have found success in keeping up with digital trends and the lucrative millennial market.
Glossier and Milk Makeup: Capturing the Hearts of the Instageneration
“If you’ve spent at least one minute on Instagram, you’ve seen this product at work,” Stylecaster says of Milk Makeup’s Face Gloss. It’s a valid point, as Milk Makeup has built a business out of tapping into Insta-beauty trends. It makes sense as many beauty looks of the moment – strobing, contouring, HD brows and heavily lined lips, for example – come into their own not ‘in real life’, but in the glare of a front-facing camera. Thus, if you can create a product that promises to enhance a wearer’s selfies, you’re onto something. Milk Makeup, offering products such as ‘Liquid Strobe’ and ‘Blur Stick’, has that ‘something’ in spades.
Another area Milk Makeup has succeeded in is its packaging, which looks simple, clean and, most pertinently, Instagrammable. Another Cult leader is Glossier – mastered by Into the Gloss founder, Emily Weiss – which has generated a huge, loyal following despite its only marketing strategy being posting artful photographs on social media and relying on word-of-mouth to gain popularity. Like Milk Makeup, Glossier’s products are instantly recognisable through their stripped-back packaging, which is all white and ‘millennial’ pink (and, when shipped, parcelled up with fun, Glossier-branded stickers). Glossier also has a consistent brand image, which generates the feelings of trust that are ever-important to a new generation of shoppers. Furthermore, its products are reasonably priced, and endorsed by ‘real’ (read: relatable) young women, rather than celebrity faces.
La Belle Lune and Huda Beauty: Influencer Appeal
One of the most exciting aspects of being a new brand in the digital age is that, through social media, you can increase your audience without having to leave your desk; for beauty brands in particular, sometimes the power of a solid, captivating social feed, coupled with endorsement from bloggers with large followings, can work wonders. La Belle Lune, an indie skincare brand, has grown to the point that it’s Organic Skin Elixir has a lengthy waiting list, which surpasses demand for the Norfolk-based company, run by a “tiny team handcrafting the potion only in small batches.” Thanks to a distinctive brand aesthetic, plus myriad success stories from skincare blogging communities that are booming on Instagram, and endorsement from media brands like Marie Claire and influencers-cum-skincare-gurus like Caroline Hirons, La Belle Lune has garnered a cult following.
Then there’s Huda Beauty, founded by Huda Kattan, and adored by her 18+ million Instagram followers. Last year, WWD awarded Kattan ‘Digital Innovator of the Year’ across the prestige beauty category, and for good reason, as her cosmetics line, Huda Beauty, has come a long way since it launched in 2013, initially specialising in false lashes. Huda Beauty products’ quality are cleverly demonstrated in the way her target demographic enjoys most: through makeup tutorial videos from Kattan herself, and other influential makeup gurus on Instagram.
Beauty Pie and The Ordinary: Going Against the Grain
There are also indie brands paving the way for the future of the beauty biz, like Beauty Pie, which is as much a beauty club as it is a cosmetics company, which offers makeup at the factory cost, rather than the marked-up cost, once you’ve subscribed to the service for £10 a month. The brand’s founder, Marcia Kilgore also founded Bliss Spa and FitFlop, so she’s an expert in the field, and claims that the mark-up applied to high-end make-up is severe, often being “10 times, sometimes 20 times higher than cost, [and] skincare is as much as 300 times [higher].” Kilgore aims to democratise beauty, and being transparent about the inner-workings of the beauty business encourages people to trust your company – as fashion brands like Everlane have proved, this is a great way to show integrity and boost customer loyalty.
Finally, there’s The Ordinary, founded by Deciem, the Toronto-based self-proclaimed ‘abnormal beauty company.’ Riding on the back of the success of Deciem’s niche skincare brands like NIOD and Hylamide, The Ordinary fights against the mark-ups so commonly implemented by high-end beauty brands to market their products as effective and luxurious. The Ordinary’s formulas retail for under £10 – which is pretty revolutionary, considering that even regular drugstore products frequently sell at a higher price – and avoid incurring extra costs through stripping away unnecessary packaging frills, ineffective ingredients and unnecessary fragrances. Instead, The Ordinary’s customers are treated to what their skin really needs: active ingredients that have been carefully formulated.
Image Source: Glossier