Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, are a fast-growing demographic group that has a lot of purchasing power. There are approximately 80 million millennials in the U.S. alone, and they spend up to $600 billion each year, according to Accenture who also projects this number will grow to $1.4 billion in 2020, representing 30 percent of total retail sales.
With a market share slated to be that large, it’s no surprise that millennials are also driving the never-ending change happening in the retail industry. For example, they are three times more likely to visit social networks on their mobile devices than Baby Boomers, as noted by Neustar research. Mobile is also millennials’ favorite shopping and researching tool (54%), exceeding desktop (31%), TV (8%) and print (7%) combined.
Cosmetic and beauty brands should see these behaviors and trends as a new marketing imperative. In order to truly connect and engage with millennials, digital strategies for a beauty brand should be tailored to tap into this demographic’s innate desire to build strong connections with their friends, advocates and even their favorite brands. Here are seven social strategies to help beauty brands build up their millennial beauty communities.
1. Create a Beauty Community
Social media plays an integral role in the lives of millennials. They tap into social networks multiple times throughout the day to “like” posts, snap images, pin inspiration and so much more. These socially savvy consumers also love to check in on the latest trends, breaking news developments and happenings. But what they find most valuable about social media is that they can stay connected with friends, family and likeminded peers from all over the world – from the comfort of home.
Digital strategies for cosmetic and beauty brands can capitalize on millennials’ desire to connect, ask questions and share experiences by creating their own branded beauty communities.
Sephora has undoubtedly been a leader in the category with its Beauty Insider Community section on site, which allows visitors to create profiles, submit questions to industry experts, chat with their fellow members and share their own feedback on specific products. Benefit recently launched a similar section, called Beauty Banter, which touts Q&As with beauty experts, tutorials from influencers and even spotlights specific fans, which Benefit calls “benebabes.”
2. Spread the Social Love
When it comes to social media, millennials don’t discriminate. Although these consumers gravitate to different social networks for different purposes (think Pinterest for DIY ideas or fashion inspiration), they have accounts on a variety of channels and tend to hop between them throughout the day. They are also usually the first group to test new social apps and platforms when they emerge.
As a result, beauty brands should keep a pulse on the social media space, and consider how new platforms may fit into their overall digital marketing strategy.
Most of all, you should think of creative ways to promote your presence and drive engagement across these different platforms.
Take this Instagram post from IT Cosmetics as a great example. The brand has a strong presence on QVC, and while it has a strong base of 208,000 followers, it is promoting its presence on the QVC Snapchat to raise brand awareness and reach a new group of consumers. This strategy is effective for a few reasons: One, this is a strategic partnership for IT Cosmetics to show its association with QVC, a strong and established brand. Two, this Snapchat takeover expands IT Cosmetics’ presence on a new, more cutting-edge network that has a strong millennial following.
3. Use Video to Provide Step-by-Step Tutorials
Beauty bloggers such as Michelle Phan have turned YouTube into a go-to destination for beauty tutorials and even product reviews. Rather than just hoping these top beauty bloggers and influencers mention your brand, you can take control of the situation by creating a branded YouTube page.
Bobbi Brown Cosmetics has a dedicated YouTube account to post makeup lessons for different themes, styles and product lines. Videos and even how-to articles and blogs are a great way to show consumers how they can get the most value out of beauty products and partake in the latest makeup trends. And these videos don’t have to be 20-minute long projects; even a five-minute video can pack a powerful punch, as long as you provide helpful tips and best practices, and provide a concise overview of which products to use and when.
Don’t have the time or bandwidth to start a YouTube account? Onboard someone from your social team to take short videos on their smartphone and upload them to your social streams.
4. Get Them Excited about Your Products
Birchbox is one of several leading innovative beauty brands riding the subscription trend. Each month, subscribers to their Beauty Box receive five beauty samples – tailored to the preferences set in their Profile. Items can include makeup, skincare, hair products and beauty tools.
The best part about Birchbox’s approach, though, are the points awarded to subscribers for their input on the products they receive. The Beauty Box subscribers got the exclusive chance to try new products and share their feedback with the brand. Birchbox tied all this back to its social strategy, using channels like Instagram to get followers excited about new, seasonal boxes and all the great treats they’d be receiving.
How can you apply this? Use social images, posts and email campaigns to share photos and details about new product releases or offerings. This is a great way to keep your customers in the loop and get them excited about what’s to come from your brand. And like we said earlier, millennials are always sharing content and information with their friends, so taking this approach increases the likelihood that your followers will spread the word.
5. Make Them Laugh
Some say laughter is the best medicine, but it can also be a powerful marketing tactic. This is especially true if you’re trying to connect with millennials, who have grown up finding and sharing Internet memes and obsessing over College Humor videos.
Sometimes, you have to put the marketing messaging on the back burner, and just have some fun.
Brands such as Julep post quirky quotes about beauty and makeup routines; but as this example from Tarte Cosmetics shows, it’s okay to push the limits as long as the content is relevant to your industry. Before you post a funny meme or video, ask yourself: How is this relevant to our target customer? Will they be confused if they see this post coming from our brand? If it all makes sense, post away!
6. Show Them the Swatch!
How many times have you seen a woman drawing eyeliner on her hand to test the color? How many times have you seen a shopper scribble on her arm to test the texture and see the true color and finish of different lipsticks?
The beauty ecommerce market is growing—from about 4-5% of total sales in 2013 to up to 8% today—but there are some elements of the in-store shopping experience that can get lost in a digital world.
The “swatch” is one of them. Even when brands show the actual colors of certain products on their ecommerce site, it can be hard to determine how specific shades will translate to different skin tones as well as the nuances between colors. Taking photos of different color swatches gives your millennial buyers the perfect view of how products look “in the act.”
Take cues from Urban Decay and use social media to connect with these shoppers, and share swatches when product lines are in development or newly released. This is a simple yet powerful way to build excitement and drive shopper action.
7. Show How Your Brand Fits Into Their Lifestyle
This may be the most important thing to remember when it comes to engaging your millennial consumers. Although this demographic is young, they’ve grown up consuming digital media, so they know when they’re being sold to. They’re used to seeing social ads, sponsored stories and celebrity endorsements with products front and center.
Turn the old-school approach to marketing on its head by making your products a minor detail in a lifestyle shot. Show how your fans, followers and even influencers use your products and the role your brand plays in their day-to-day life.
Millennials are empowered, constantly connected and want to be in the loop with the latest news and product releases from their favorite brands. You can give your millennial consumers the news, information and content they crave by applying some of these social media strategy best practices for beauty brands. When you do, you’ll be able to build your own thriving community of fans and followers.