Cosmetic Firms Reinvent Their Marketing Using Instagram

Glossy magazine ads of perfectly manicured models face digital competition from 2014’s hottest social network, Instagram. The social network recently surpassed Twitter in monthly users.

As consumers continue to rely on mobile devices, content-hungry and socially influenced buyers with a high browse-to-buy ratio offer the cosmetic industry a contemporary marketing platform to affect the bottom line without relinquishing image control.

Instagram is teeming with opportunity: Its audience spends an average of 257 minutes a month interacting with content. Shopify reported that Instagram's ecommerce influence yields on average $65 per order. Instagram's unique position as a network that favors aesthetics above words, paired with consumer impact, has enlivened luxury-makeup and grooming-product marketing. 

Related: Instagram Now Valued at $35 Billion, Analyst Says

According to L2’s Intelligence Report released last February, Instagram delivers about a 10th of the reach of Facebook.

But, a quick glance at the scale of interaction on Instagram compared with other networks proves its impact. Despite displaying more than twice the amount of followers on Twitter as opposed to Instagram, Dior received 28,000 Instagram likes for a recent video (along with a stream of tags to follower connections), as opposed to 80 retweets and 128 favorites on Twitter.

Some companies bridge digital and on-ground marketing efforts to cultivate Instagram brand adoption. Shiseido, a staple of Macy’s and Nordstrom beauty departments, took to Instagram last summer in search of college-age brand ambassadors for a millennial-specific line of IBUKI products.

Shiseido’s marketing team traveled to 10 college campuses with its #IBUKIGirl campaign. The female-empowerment social-media quest garnered hundreds of submissions, a mass of valuable user-generated content and engagement. Furthermore, the participants introduced Shiseido to thousands of new followers and potential customers using a more "human" approach.

Related: The Best Brand Uses of Instagram's Cool Time-Lapse Video App 

Granting a backstage pass.  


Contemporary consumers demand more than ever before that their interactions with company brands be on their terms. U.S. millennials reported in a Boston Consulting Group study that their purchases are most influenced by family and friends, particularly when it comes to lifestyle and luxury companies.

Consistent Instagram use fosters a meaningful relationship between high-end companies and consumers who want to trust the firms whose products they purchase.

Dior took followers behind closed doors during Cannes 2014. Bobbi Brown has promoted philanthropic causes and Estée Lauder has shared nonstock, creative and playful photos of various products.  

Rather than companies having to risk compromising brand integrity, Instagram provides a twofold opportunity for them to share unique product visuals and leverage personal relationships with fans. Special-access content such as a video from Dior, emphasized product quality and its accompanying lifestyle instead of hinging on deals or discounts. 

Cultivating brand ambassadors.  

The so-called lifestyle emphasis of Instagram is evident in a new wave of cosmetic-brand ambassadors building product buzz.  

Influencer marketing is not a fresh concept, but recent examples prove that it is particularly effective in the luxury-goods industry. Several years ago, marketing expert Aileen Lee described in TechCrunch how Rent the Runway used fashion bloggers to drive traffic to its site as opposed to paid-search options.

Haley Buckner, Los Angeles-based makeup artist with celebrity clients and photo-shoot gigs for high-end magazines and retailers, uses Instagram as her social-media go-to site. Buckner, who is also a personal friend, has amassed a devoted and engaged following of more than 79,000 followers

Buckner’s followers leave a stream of comments and thousands of "likes" on each photo within minutes of her posting. Her followers consistently inquire about the brands she uses, putting her in a position to tout products used in professional settings but available via online and in-store retailers. Her recent collaboration with Anastacia Beverly Hills resulted in direct interaction for the company brand with just one post

Instagram has no shortage of industry professionals who might serve as a fresh pool of brand ambassadors for high-end cosmetic companies that traditionally only enlisted A-list celebrities and models. Their followers might want the best products, not the cheapest deals.   

Instagram has opened the doors for luxury cosmetic companies to cultivate brand adoption via social media without cheapening their image. Their eagerness to use Instagram paves the way for other high-end industries to emulate. 

Related: Instagram's 5 Tips for Better Marketing -- With Pictures