The beauty market is one of the most fascinating spaces in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) realm. While product innovation, high-calibre company culture, and embracing operational best practice can all help a brand thrive, it’s their brand marketing strategy that distinguishes the beauty brands achieving jaw-dropping growth from the ones doing just okay. As a beauty and fashion brand marketing specialist, I’ve noticed three key factors that set top-performing beauty brands apart from the rest, three things all DTC brands need to learn to nail brand marketing in 2022.
Fast-growing brands have moved beyond merely engaging with their followers through the typical social media and customer service channels. They’re finding new ways to deepen connections with their customers and get direct feedback, such as through customer advisory panels. For example, skincare brand Topical uses a private Slack group. Another, Truly Beauty, has a private Facebook group.
These online spaces facilitate regular conversations with their most loyal fans, which help inspire product innovation, optimise brand planning and sharpen brand messaging in a uniquely authentic way. But there’s more to it than just chatting to customers online.
Here’s a common scenario I’ve seen with startups and scaleup brands: In the early phases of the business, the brand’s founder knows who their customers are, and is inherently attuned to their customers’ needs. But as the brand begins to scale and grow, two things happen. First, as new people join the team, that deep customer knowledge living inside the founder’s head isn’t formally transferred to everyone else. Second, as the brand grows, the customer base tends to broaden and new customer segments evolve. Thriving brands are those committed to exploring and documenting customer profiles and segments, and ensuring their growing teams and agency partners are all on the same page about who they’re aiming to reach. And once these profiles are documented, they’re not just filed away somewhere. Successful brands consistently keep their customer personas front-of-mind as part of brand strategy conversations and planning.
You’ve noticed it but maybe you didn’t quite know why. Some brands’ social feeds don’t look and sound like everyone else’s because their unique brand identity and values are intricately woven throughout their content strategy. This, paired with a deep connection with their customers, helps the most successful ones tell their brand story and engage with their online audience far more powerfully, across multiple social channels.
A strong brand voice means you don’t need to fill your feed with the latest trending memes. That’s not to say you can’t engage with pop culture. Beautycounter, is a great example of how to mix a sprinkling of hilarious memes with solid brand content. Successful brands have mastered the art of using their brand DNA and brand voice as filters to determine exactly what trending content will best complement their digital marketing strategy.
Building brand equity takes time. Brands serious about scaling up ensure their digital marketing budgets and activities strike a balance between short-term tactical wins and long-term brand building strategy. They consistently carve out key moments in their brand calendars for brand building content and campaigns that tell their brand story and bring their brand positioning to life.
The social feeds of skincare brand Versed deliver the perfect balance of product focused content and broader narratives that amplify their story as a results-driven, clean, climate neutral brand. Whilst Beauty Pie, known for luxury beauty without luxury prices, recently launched its ‘Overpaying is officially over’ brand campaign, that reinforces its position as the rebel, defiantly tearing up the old beauty industry rulebook.
Sure, running tactical promo offers can boost sales—but that’ll only get you so far. Brands building and sustaining real growth rely far less on quick wins and more on long-term brand building. When you have a clear brand vision and the right brand marketing playbook to take you there, you don’t need to compete with tactical promo offers.
This speaks to Tracksuit's philosophy, that to grow sustainably, marketers must build future demand by growing their brand whilst also harvesting existing demand with short-term marketing activity. Tracksuit’s co-founder, James Hurman, describes this common pattern in the whitepaper, Rethinking brand for the rise of digital commerce: a company launches an innovative new offering to market, with great product-market fit. It solves a customer problem in a unique way. They have existing demand - a group of customers who just need the solution put in front of them. Cost-effective performance marketing gets their product in front of this group, and the company very quickly, and very easily, makes sales.
And then, new customer acquisition gets more expensive, and growth slows. Hurman explains “Those companies deftly created a product for which there was preexisting, unmet demand. They skilfully converted all of that demand. And they ran out of customers before they’d done the critical job of creating future demand.”
Just watch. The brands killing it online this year will be the ones with next-level customer centricity, refreshingly brand-authentic content and a long-term approach to their digital marketing. Making these three key factors part of your brand’s operating rhythm from the very start and embedding them into your marketing team’s culture as you begin to scale is the secret to driving and sustaining growth.
The world of eCommerce is constantly evolving, but one thing will always remain the same: World-class brands are born from world-class brand marketing strategy. There are no shortcuts.
For your brand to succeed, you need a plan that helps you level-up your organic marketing and makes your paid ads work harder for you, to better acquire, engage, convert and retain loyal customers and ultimately, build your brand.
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