Weekly Stories

Driving Tech Innovation: What Can Fashion Learn From Beauty?

Reported by Grace Howard on Mar 16, 2016 6:44:52 PM

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Even though, in theory, they sit side-by-side and frequently interact with each other, it often seems that the worlds of fashion and beauty are miles apart. Fashion and beauty bloggers work in entirely different ways and, unlike the lofty business of high-end fashion, beauty is generally marketed as being more accessible. We’ve taken a look at some of the ways the beauty industry is capitalising on tech to drive sales and create a buzz. Many fashion brands could learn from these pointers, integrating them into their own marketing strategies.

Apps let you try before you buy

The inability to try on items before purchasing them is online clothes shopping’s Achilles heel, but it has posed an even greater bugbear for the beauty industry. While one can get a better idea of the fit of a skirt by seeing it on an ASOS model, getting the feel for cosmetics online is a murkier area, largely because determining a beauty product’s suitability is more about the actual feel: the formulation and the texture, as well as the scent and the colour of it on your own skin.

One factor responsible for the public’s increased trust in buying cosmetics online is the rise of beauty apps that allow users to virtually ‘try on’ cosmetics; this is a game-changer for make-up aficionados, removing any doubtful thoughts about making a purchase based on inaccurate colour swatches. Sephorahas recently added a new feature, Virtual Artist, to Sephora To Go, its popular app. According to Sephora’s press release, Sephora Virtual Artist uses ModiFace technology to “precisely map lip location and shape,” allowing users to try on Sephora’s extensive range of lip products. Beauty blogging guru Michelle Phan is a fan. One of the mass-market beauty sector’s first dips into augmented reality came in 2012, when Maybelline followed in the footsteps of Clinique by using AR app Blippar to generate hype surrounding Maybelline’s New York Colour Show Nail Lacquer. Users could open the app to experiment with different nail colours and styles based on Maybelline’s range of nail products, before sharing their new looks on social media.

Finding the best ‘real world’ representatives

It’s now hard to imagine a world without fashion bloggers, but beauty blogs have arguably had a greater impact. Fashion blogs tend appeal solely to the sartorially interested, but beauty blogs have the potential to draw in everyone from professional make-up artists to teenagers experimenting with cosmetics for the first time, and those who need a quick fix for their dark circles.

Beauty bloggers, on the whole, tend to have a more down-to-earth approach. YouTube make-up tutorials – which reached peak popularity in 2014 and have been going strong since – seem to be best received when delivered by someone ‘normal’, sitting in the comfort of their own home, chatting away to the camera as if it were their best friend. It’s this interpersonal element that appeals, and it’s why vloggers like Zoella have generated followings of over 10 million. How fashion can learn from this, though, is difficult to consider. Fashion would do well to follow the beauty industry by using YouTube more creatively and more frequently but, although everyone can find a lipstick shade to suit them, not everybody is enthusiastic about trying out a bodycon silhouette or a deep neckline.

A shift in advertising focus

The beauty industry has capitalised on the online focus shift, cutting their advertising expenses by keeping a close eye on social media platforms like Instagram. The fashion world benefits more from big-budget print advertisements; with their esteemed brand messages, they’re more likely to attract attention of Vogue readers, who have a greater interest in luxury products and enjoy the artistry and aspirational quality of a glossy print ad campaign. But cosmetics are different, with only a niche group of products sitting anywhere near the realms of designer fashion prices. Speaking to the Business of Fashion about advertising cosmetics through Instagram, Gene Lewis, Chief Creative Office of marketing agency Digital Puld, said: “This is not a thousand dollar product. It’s a low enough price point that it’s worth trying out. And now, it’s only one click away.”

And some brands are rejecting traditional advertising altogether; cult brands like Urban Decay, whose Naked palettes have achieved ‘holy grail’ status due to extensive beauty blogger coverage, and Kiehl’s rely on social media alone to promote their products.

Fashion could easily follow in beauty’s footsteps by stepping up their Instagram game –indeed, many brands, like Burberry and Michael Kors, have already proved their digital savvy. But the key here seems to be a visually cohesive, strong-voiced digital campaign. Take Emily Weiss’ make-up brand Glossier, for instance, borne from Into The Gloss, Weiss’ editorial-rich beauty website with a huge following. Glossier has always had a strong vision: a simplistic beauty range geared towards millennials with slick pastel-hued packaging which could be customised with emoji-styled stickers. The other important part? Glossier’s decision to crowdsource ideas. From the start, Into The Gloss readers have been offered input into new Glossier products, which does well to boost consumer confidence and increase interest. Who wouldn’t want to buy a product they feel they’ve had a part in creating?

We're exploring how to create digital communities and consumer-led strategies at the London Summit on 17-18 May. Book your tickets here.

Reported by Grace Howard

Image Source: Glossier

Topics: vloggers, Beauty Technology, Weekly Stories

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