Creating a beauty brand as an influencer or entrepreneur may seem easy (and lucrative), with the likes of Huda Kattan, Marianna Hewitt and Patrick Starr all establishing noteworthy beauty brands. But for every successful launch and retail partnership, there are scores of untold others that haven’t gone so well.
Rachell Hofstetter’s skincare brand RFLCT closed just two weeks after debuting. Lady Gaga’s Haus Laboratories launched as an Amazon exclusive during Prime Day 2019, but hasn’t gained much traction since revamping under Sephora. These examples illustrate one point quite clearly — a famous name or enormous following on social media doesn’t promise influencer cosmetic branding success.
What leads to influencer beauty brands succeeding?
Despite the name recognition, influencer beauty brands can face steep uphill climbs at their outsets; beauty consumers are a savvy bunch that know their stuff when it comes to selecting products that fulfil their aesthetic and value-based needs. So, a famous name won’t guarantee success. Here’s how to set your influencer cosmetic venture up for victory from the start:
1. Do your market research
Get specific and clear on your goals. With so many brands popping up on store shelves and website tabs, are there truly any gaps left to be filled? The answer is yes. Whitespace is the name of the game. Beauty buyers say new products must address an unmet need in the marketplace — not to mention be unique.
Research what is currently in the marketplace and how your brand will fit, who you will target, and what your messaging will be to attract consumer attention. It can be difficult to stand out in a saturated market. You should be personalising your brand at every turn, whether it’s the product, service, or customer experience.
Use psychographics to analyse your customer base and understand its interests, values, behaviours, personalities, and lifestyles. This will help shape your decisions when it comes to creating products, establishing partnerships, and how to best market your line.
For Instagram influencer Dani Austin, research helped her narrow her focus to produce a scalp serum whose target audience is those who experience hair loss. Understanding how her beauty brand fits in with the rest of her personal brand helped create natural, organic messaging and an organic customer base. Research will help you to understand what you need from manufacturers and how to best maintain a long-term relationship with them.
2. Be unique and try to meet an unmet need or solve a “beauty challenge”
In a saturated market, what makes a successful beauty brand is its uniqueness. Maybe it’s the rare ingredients or the attention-grabbing packaging. In any case, finding a niche is crucial.
It’s what you become known for and what will keep your customers coming back. When your target market is acquired, consumers flock to you (rather than the other way around). Get better acquainted with them by studying your niche and industry to best understand the competitive landscape you’re dealing with. Ask yourself, “What do I do better and different than everyone else in this market?”
Always reassess who the target market is and why. You need to be up-to-date on industry trends. This helps you to create the type of content that will resonate with your intended audience and market. Further, it’s also crucial to be realistic when it comes to timing. Product production and sourcing ingredients can take longer than one might think.
Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty is a great example of filling a need. Fenty Beauty offers a much wider range of foundation and concealer shades compared to other brands, appealing to consumers of all skin types and colours. Your brand should be one that has a well-known value proposition and also shows it’s willing to evolve with the times and broaden its appeal.
3. Start small and scale
It’s great to be ambitious out the gate. But for the sake of your brand’s long-term prospects, try a small rollout and work up to those big goals as you go along.
Research to determine what would be considered a competitive price, compelling rewards, or a valuable membership programme. Look for added values, partnerships, events, or service offerings. This is where you can get creative and really bring your brand story into focus.
It’s easier to make mistakes with a smaller investment than with a larger one. Start with one product, just like Kylie Jenner did with her signature Matte Lip Kits. Since its 2015 launch, Kylie Cosmetics has now expanded into skin care products, concealers, powders, and more.
And use the small-scale approach to build buzz and brand awareness. As much hype as you can create prior to its launch the better. Before Addison Rae drops new products for her line Item Beauty, the influencer drops teaser content where she hints at upcoming products and ideas, therefore creating excitement and anticipation for the launch.
Select a contract manufacturer that will support your growth. You want to find a manufacturer that can create not only innovative products but also scale with you as you grow.
If you’re an influencer trying to get into the cosmetics game, don’t just try to fly on your name alone. Build a business plan that sets your brand up for future success and keeps it flexible enough to adjust with the times.