Today’s beauty brands have a new audience to win over when debuting their products: the ever-growing group of skin-care and makeup junkies that is burgeoning online. But with that has come increased competition, as these customers are surfing through social platforms crowded by other brands and influencers, all hoping to entice the same group of customers.
To solve for this, companies have started focusing on what’s trending online from the get-go, altering both their product formulations and outside packaging to better catch the scrolling eye.
The result is an uptick in products that emphasize texture, viscosity, light and color, often with special effects like glitter or foam added in. Products with unique application processes, like those utilizing water droppers and sponges, and all manner of masks, are also popular.
“There’s a big desire today to create something that results in an Instagram moment, where a product is very photogenic and encourages consumers to take a picture of it,” said Natasha Jen, a partner at the branding agency Pentagram, which counts Dr.Jart+ and Oliveda as clients. “Those moments lead to word of mouth and are huge advertising opportunities.”
Given social media’s impact on consumer purchases, this phenomenon is not surprising. In 2016, a Facebook IQ report found that 53 percent of beauty purchases are influenced by what beauty experts share on social media, while 44 percent of them are influenced by what brands post on these platforms.
That beauty brands care about the way their packaging looks isn’t new, but today, they’re approaching it from a different angle.
“We used to use the lens of: How do we design to create an impact on shelves?” said Aruh. “But now, we design for the thumbnail, which really changes some of the choices we make.”
Where once tactility might be essential to a product’s outer packaging, for instance, light and color now take its place. Shiny glass and plastics, colors that pop and all manner of sparkle are common.
But not everyone is convinced this emphasis on social media appeal is really serving the consumer, as the ingredients that create buzz aren’t always good for skin, and the “effects” seen in a well-crafted photo or video aren’t necessarily easy to replicate (or truly important, for that matter).
Why it’s hot:
To be honest, this blew my mind. But how can I be surprised? A brand’s social media presence can be vital to influencing purchase decisions; beauty, even more so than other industries, has the opportunity to benefit from the visual focus of social media and especially Instagram.
But the idea of formulating and packaging products based on what looks good on a social feed??? Don’t mind me, I’m still processing this.
While serving up tailored products that appeal to your social audience’s interests and tastes seems to have benefits in this case, I would have to wonder, as the author of the article does, if this really serves the customer best. After all, there’s more to beauty products (and food and car and gadgets, etc.) than meets the eye.