Since the launch of 13 new brow products last June, the brand has used a canny experiential-driven marketing to spread its brow-grooming influence across the UK.
Today, the brand has 60% market share within a category that in 2016 was worth £20m according to NPD market research. The country's top-five most popular brow products are also owned by Benefit.
"There's still a lot of opportunity in this space as, even one, only one in four women use a brow product regularly in their makeup routine," according to Kyra White, head of brand activation for Benefit Cosmetics UK.
Brow services have been a part of Benefit's marketing strategy for 20 years. By getting women to come into the store for a regular groom, Benefit was able to introduce its latest products on a one-to-one basis and build up brand loyalty.
"While this has worked well for us, we decided it was time to bring our services to the customer and the Browmobile let us do this in a fun, quirky, benefit way," White said. "It shows our customers that we're happy to go to them anywhere. Plus it's really Instagrammable which is great for a brand like ours which doesn't do traditional above-the-line advertising".
The Browmobile strategy was developed in partnership with Slam PR while production agency, Persuaders, made and produced the vehicles as well as handled the video coverage.
Along with the announced tour dates, Benefit ran an online competition for consumers to have a visit from the Browmobile. This May, the bus will be surprising competition winners.
The competition drew more than 5,000 entries and garnered 61,000 unique visitors to the competition page.
"The Browmobile tour and competition were also supported by digital and online activity. We worked with different influencers and reached out to the ones we have great relationships with," White said.
She added that Benefit has a policy of not paying for influencer write-ups, preferring instead to give them unique experiences, let them try products and, and have the influencer decide how and if they wish to review or feature a product by Benefit.
"We believe in building great relationships instead. For example, we do an even twice a month in London called 'Browtime' where influencers and bloggers meet at the Carnaby Store and we chat with them about our new products," White explained, likening the experience to a Sunday brunch with girlfriends.
Benefit is also a big believer in product sampling and having miniature versions of its products readily for sale. "Our top-selling mascara, Roller-Lash, retails at around £20, which is a lot to spend on a mascara you've never tried. So we've made miniature versions, with the same brow wand, available for £10 as an entry-point," White said.
The Browmobile had the added benefit for the brand as a sample and miniature product distributor throughout the UK.
Throughout the year ahead, Benefit plans to bring its brand "to the people" in other categories. Another ongoing example is the brand's annual philanthropy project Bold is Beautiful which, in the UK, supports Look Good Feel Better and Refuge.
This year's Bold is Beautiful project involved four pop-up pink charity stores in London, Dublin, Manchester and Glasgow, throughout the month of April, stocked with pink products donated by Benefit and its partner brands. Sales of the products raised £25,000 for charity.
Also, throughout April, every Benefit donated the proceeds of each Brow Wax to the charities as well. While the exact number is still being totalled up, White disclosed that it was going to be an "six-figure sum".
Content marketing is at the core of our overall marketing strategy. It focuses on “creating content that has independent value and lacks a direct sales pitch”. This unobtrusive style of marketing is fast becoming the most effective way of self-promotion; with many brands achieving enviable success through well planned and executed content strategies.
Like who? I hear you ask. Well, one of my favourite examples has to be Benefit Cosmetics! Driven by their feel-good philosophy, the Benefit brand fully supports their ‘benefesto’ – “laughter is the best cosmetic”. It’s this that now forms the backbone of their online presence; their strong, unique and entertaining voice (with a ‘fun and sassy’ tone) has allowed them to generate a huge and devoted customer following.
Rather than focusing on sales, the brand concentrates on engagement, emphasising that they want to ‘act more like a friend’ to their audience, in the hope of encouraging two-way communication.
A clear example of this in action is their online blog, Friends with Benefit, where even the title plays towards their audience’s cheeky side! The platform engulfs the idea of added value, focusing on the hows and whys of beauty routines, rather than sales. Generated by a group of beauty bloggers, the blog provides educational content to appeal to the interests of the audience. They publish anything from tips to keep your makeup brushes beautiful, an update on the latest office shenanigans or world exclusives, such as the launch of a new product. Using content marketing to this effect allows the brand to attract users to their site, not just to purchase, but also to learn and become a part of the Benefit community.
Created by the brand, the ‘Benefit community’ is a pivotal part of their content marketing strategy. In wanting to humanise their brand, and become a friend to their audience (rather than simply just another cosmetic supplier), the brand uses terminology such as ‘Benebabes’ when referring to their audience. By creating this exclusive club for their audience, Benefit are allowing them to feel both important and knowledgeable – two key attributes that are empowering in an industry that’s already pretty daunting. This personalised approach makes the brand considerably more approachable, something that naturally brings engagement and, eventually, sales.
Alongside their blog, the Benefit Cosmetics website also offers the ‘Beauty School’, a collection of pages that have been created to support and inspire users:
- ‘Beyond the Gloss’ explores the new-to-market and most popular products in greater detail, with tips and tricks on how to apply, before and after photo galleries as well as customer reviews. Reviews in particular are an excellent source of user-generated content – consumers trust other consumers and are therefore more likely to purchase based on recommendations, something the Benefit team have acknowledged.
- ‘Videos’ provide how-to guides delivered by beauty bloggers and industry experts, giving their content a real sense of authenticity. By having opinion leaders involved in your content, you will reach a larger volume of your target audience, as well as encourage more earned word-of-mouth attention.
- ‘Shop by Dilemma’ allows users to search for recommended products for areas in which they are cosmetically challenged, e.g. puffy eyes or short, straight lashes. This is perfect as it’s independently giving their audience a reason to interact with the content.
This tailored approach allows Benefit Cosmetics to position themselves as the go-to source for beauty fanatics. They aren’t just trying to sell their products, but they are making an invested interested in their customers by identifying common issues in which they have a solution to. It’s this that’s an important factor when determining your content marketing strategy. You need to know your customers inside out in order to understand what content they want. By acknowledging their interests, loves and concerns, you’ll be able to deliver content that is fulfilling, interactive, and most importantly, shareable.
On the subject of shareable content, Benefit Cosmetics are greatly known for their social media presence. With such success generated through their social media profiles, they no longer have the need to use traditional advertising – reaching consumers entirely through their digital and social channels instead. Let’s take a look at a couple of their platforms to see how they are achieving such great engagement levels:
Within the Social Media arena, approximately 40% of content consumed is video and image based, explaining why the platform Instagram has become so successful. The Benefit CosmeticsInstagram account visually celebrates what makes Benefit Cosmetics unique – a fun, lighthearted approach to beauty. Filled with beautiful product displays, amusing lifestyle shots, as well as uplifting quotes, competitions and behind-the-scene posts, it’s become one of the top branded Instagram accounts in the beauty world.
An Instagram campaign that the brand executed earlier this year was titled “Happy Galentines Day”. Dedicated to those who didn’t have an other half this Valentines Day, users were presented with an animated GIF that displayed numerous ‘treats’ for users (from a brand that’s all about female empowerment, this was perfect). You were required to screenshot the animation spontaneously, and whatever the image captured was your treat for the day. Suggestions aligned with the brands humorous personality, such as “get dressed up for no reason” or “order that side of fries”, and my personal favourite, “order a Man servant to serve you breakfast in bed” – who said being single wasn’t fun!
Alone, the post received an impressive 19.1K likes, with an extensive comment list to match… And that’s not even taking into consideration the competition that ran alongside it, where users were encouraged to re-post with the hashtag ‘#benecupid’ for a chance to win $100.
The Benefit Cosmetics YouTube channel is a hub of engaging video content, comprising of a number of campaigns that have been created for their audience’s amusement and benefit (excuse the pun!).
For example, in support of their famed They’re Real! mascara, the brand launched the series “The Struggle is REAL”; 20 second clips that focus on the stereotypical incidents that occur when fake eyelashes are involved. For example, eyelashes catching alight when blowing out birthday candles, your child drawing a photo of you with what can only be described as two spiders on your face, as well as spoof style videos about the application of fake eyelashes! All videos are highly amusing and totally relatable for those that either embrace or avoid the fake-eyelash trend.
Executing a campaign in this way is what makes the content so engaging and sharable. Users want their friends to see this, who will want their friends to see it, etc. Ultimately, the underlying message that’s being shared is ‘buy the Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! mascara to avoid these highly embarrassing situations’.
The Benefit Cosmetics Pinterest account caters to the Benefit customers’ overall lifestyle, focusing not only on cosmetics but also on their other associated interests as well.
For example, the Benefit Cosmetics UK Pinterest account has boards titled “BeneTRAVELS”, “BeneHOME”, “BeneBRIDES” and “BeneEATS” (to name a few). Each of these provide users with inspiration and ideas in other areas that matter to them. Not only does this show a great level of understanding towards their customer base, but it ensures they are continuously at the forefront of their customers mind, as they become a go-to source for topics other than their specialty.
It’s amazing to see the impact that creative content has on engagement figures. What I love is that Benefit Cosmetics’ overall goal has always been to simply make their customers happy, and this is what has allowed them to grow so significantly as a brand. That’s the beauty of content marketing; it’s fun and light-hearted and it’s a great opportunity to flex those creative skills (without getting bogged down in a direct, and now off-putting, sales pitch).
So are you feeling inspired by Benefit? Encouraged to execute a content marketing strategy that’s just as powerful as theirs? Well you can! Ask yourself ‘what do my audience want, need and love?‘. It’s your job to provide them with this, in the form of engaging content.
Check out the gm-design Content Marketing in 7 Steps to get you started. I’m confident you’ll be the king of content in no time!
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