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Lessons from WWD’s Digital Beauty Summit

Earlier this month we had the opportunity to attend WWD’s Digital Beauty Forum in New York City, where we heard from a number of beauty brands about what they are doing to innovate and engage their customers. Large and small companies alike shared the secrets behind their marketing success as well as strategies on how to create a loyal customer base. Read on below to hear some of our favorite brand stories and marketing tips from the event.


Cozy Friedman, founder of the children’s salon & haircare brand SoCozy, kicked off her presentation by sharing her experience in launching the business in the early 90’s. Additionally, she shared her perspective on industry changes and how they’ve impacted the vertical in recent years. Despite the fact that Friedman struggled to gain buy-in for her ‘children-only’ products when she first started the business, the brand has since expanded dramatically, and is now carried by hundreds of retailers and salons across the country. The reason for SoCozy’s rapid growth and success came from not only developing a much-needed product to cater to a niche market, but also from the brand’s ability to build authentic relationships with its top customer: the millennial parent.

While the technology to develop customer relationships may have changed over time, Friedman points out why she recognized the importance of investing in a digital-first marketing strategy so early on:
[twitter quote=”Social media is the modern park bench.” custom=”‘Social media is the modern park bench,’ says SoCozy in @olapic’s WWD’s #digital #beauty summit recap:”]

She elaborated on the above idea explaining that it was social media where the modern consumer goes to have real conversations about products and ideas — whether it was about how best to potty train your kid or which lipstick shade is most popular. Knowing this, SoCozy was able to build its marketing strategy and messaging around increasing authentic dialogues, social engagement, and user-generated content.

Concentrating on authentic engagement and its digital presence, the brand was able to drive its biggest idea yet: #RealMenBraid. This campaign tapped into a recent trend in the market: more fathers were frequenting the hair salon with their kids and, on top of that, were engaged with what was happening. Realizing that many dads wanted to be involved in this aspect of their daughters’ lives, the founder decided to start a class that trained fathers on the basics of doing hair. These courses gained traction in a New York Times’ story and drew a slew of additional media coverage, which helped what was initially a small campaign “go viral.” SoCozy capitalized on the campaign’s virality by investing its resources in creating more blogs, video tutorials, and calls for user-generated content (UGC) around the tag #RealMenBraid — extending awareness and marketing reach. Not only that, but Friedman took her classes on the road, frequenting local salons and morning shows to share her styling tips, which kept the enthusiasm and awareness around the campaign alive for more than a year. To close the loop, the brand created a ‘Styling Power Tools’ kit for dads that continues to be one of the most successful products today. This example demonstrates that seemingly small ideas sparked by your customers can actually result in a successful brand marketing campaign, no matter the size of your company or budget.

NYX Cosmetics

Another one of our favorite presentations from the summit came from Mehdi Mehdi, VP of Digital at NYX Cosmetics, who highlighted the importance of including customers in the marketing story both online and offline. The brand, which had originally started as a business targeted at entry-level makeup artists, has quickly turned into a diverse and engaged community of beauty creators through NYX’s investment in competitions, an elevated online presence, and impressive in-store digital experience.

NYX spent years building an online community of brand fans, so much so, that the next logical step was to extend this community’s life into its brick-and-mortar stores, engaging old and new customers alike. Mehdi emphasized the need for one to one, personalized communication across all branded channels instead of a top-down marketing approach. Through its partnership with Olapic, the brand has been able to outfit its stores with an array of technology that allows customers to access personalized UGC for inspiration, video makeup tutorials, product suggestions, and more. By integrating technology, its customers’ content, and clear calls to action for its fan base, NYX has been able to take its online digital content seamlessly in-store to increase inspiration, discovery, and engagement for its audience.

Frank Body

Frank Body’s co-founder, Jess Hatzis, took the stage to discuss her brand’s scrappiness and success on Instagram — two topics we love. The company is unique not only for its niche product (coffee-based skincare) but also for its rapid success via social media in its past two years of existence.

It all began when the Australian-based brand stumbled upon the idea that coffee grounds have incredible benefits for the skin, and upon doing research via Instagram for inspiration around these types of products, found that there were few great examples. In order to capitalize on the niche market, a business was quickly formed and a strong brand voice was created. Given the company’s name, and the “dirty” nature of coffee grounds, one aspect of Frank Body that has stood out to its fans is the cheekiness in how its personified. The whole name and character is centered around the idea of ‘being frank,’ and the voice of the brand who, as Hatzis has said, is, “one cheeky, dirty son of a gun.”

By using an authentic, yet opinionated, persona in its marketing messaging, Frank was able to engage thousands of beauty followers on Instagram and generated $20 million in revenue on the social platform during its first year in business. Additionally, with nearly 100,000 photos tagged to the hashtags #letsbefrank and #thefrankeffect — the brand demonstrates that by listening to what your consumers want, and creating clear CTAs, you can elevate brand awareness and make your messaging more authentic.

“Let’s be Frank, i’m just what you’ve been waiting for.” Thank you @frank_bod ? #thefrankeffect

A post shared by Magda Bolinhas (@magdabolinhas) on

While each beauty brand had a compelling story to tell, one narrative stood out in each case – the importance of not only listening to your customers, but also ensuring that they are included directly in the marketing strategy. By integrating customers with the marketing strategy, brands are enabled to tell more honest and authentic stories