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How Beauty Goes Virtual

Tips for Beauty Brands to Break Through in the Zoom Era

Article by
Bess Browning
Associate Media Director
EchoPoint Media
Placeholder Image YL Beauty Goes Virtual

Zoom meetings aren’t going away anytime soon— as COVID cases continue to climb across the country, many offices plan to stay virtual through the end of 2020 and beyond. Even when offices open up again, Zoom meetings will still play a prominent role in business. As people are at home longer and longer, they create new habits. You’ve probably noticed the other attendees on your own Zoom meetings are electing for a look that’s more natural and less done up than it might have been for in-person meetings. CNN reported that makeup sales are down 22% Q1 2020 vs 2019. Even as many people are enjoying the new low-maintenance routine and don’t anticipate returning to their full face of makeup, people still want to feel good about themselves.

Because of this shift in behavior and expectations, influencers and publishers (Vogue, NYMag, Refinery29 and WhoWhatWear) are providing content to address beauty in a digital space. But up to this point, brands themselves haven’t been present in this conversation. Brands need to take charge and guide consumers on how to look and feel good on Zoom calls all day with a lower-maintenance look. Here’s a few ways to get started.

New work routine, new makeup routine

Consumers who once had their daily routines down are now facing new beauty challenges. Elements like poor lighting and washed-out cameras are creating new scenarios that most people haven’t had to consider before when thinking about their everyday look. Their former routine doesn’t translate as well on camera, and there’s no desire to spend hours getting ready every day. Brands need to be helping consumers understand how to adjust their makeup for Zoom and the new routines people find themselves in. Should people add eyeliner to create more definition on video calls? What about lipstick, knowing sales have been declining as mask usage increases? Helping users determine which makeup products will translate best for their on-camera look builds trust and adds fun and excitement back into their daily routine again. There’s room for haircare brands in this discussion, too. Can people get away with doing less with their hair and still look good? Would a few beach waves by the face be enough? This is a good opportunity to promote tools that save time, like the Dyson Airwrap, which curls as it dries.

Virtual tutorials for virtual occasions

There’s opportunity to keep this type of content going beyond the everyday Zoom look. With holidays around the corner, there’s an opening to show how the typical “holiday party tutorial” makes its way into the virtual world. Brands should emphasize products and techniques that translate on camera for big events. Tutorials can explore looks for important meetings, family hangouts, or even as a virtual wedding guest. Brands could create videos showing best practices for ways people can update lighting and placement of the laptop camera to enhance virtual meetings. With every new “unprecedented” event, consumers crave guidance on how to navigate each newly virtual scenario.

Replicating the retail experience online

While tutorials can reach the most people as a YouTube or IGTV video where makeup artists demonstrate on themselves, brands can reward loyal fans or build excitement through limited one-on-one consulting. The consultant could give input on ways to improve lighting or give recommendations that are catered to the user’s exact work-from-home situation. Fenty Beauty has been rolling out a limited number of personal Zoom consultations where consumers can meet with a member of the Fenty team and find their perfect shade. This tactic seeks to conquer the difficulty of finding the perfect shade of foundation or concealer without being able to actually try it on your actual skin, especially as people are beginning to rely more on online purchasing. Retail stores like Sephora are turning to virtual reality and previous in-store color matching to help solve this problem for products like lipsticks and eyeshadow palettes. Zoom’s 5.0 release even includes a way to use AR to add lipstick or eyebrows to a user’s face. Beyond lipsticks and shadows, some foundation brands have a color match option, where they find an equivalent shade using your current foundation as a template. Brands should be using every digital tool at their disposal to become more competitive and make color-matching easier for consumers.

Content for makeup novices and expert artists alike

Beyond creating Zoom tutorials or consultancies, brands need to make sure this content is seen by their loyal fans and new users. These tutorials should be evergreen and live in YouTube as a series, as well as a highlighted story on Instagram. Brands should also put paid dollars behind these videos through native content, YouTube pre-roll, or social ads to make sure the brand can be discovered by users who might not be as familiar with the brand. Short teaser videos that are :15 secs or less can promote the series. With users’ short attention span, hooking them in quickly is key. There’s also opportunity to leverage the promotional ability of brand ambassadors featured in the videos. Also consider promoting the series through paid search. Beyond speaking to people who are already actively watching beauty tutorials and following all the beauty bloggers, make sure your content is shown to people who might not be as invested in the beauty industry— the people who could benefit most from the tutorials. By helping users figure out this new situation, brands can create loyalty, encourage trial of new products, and show they are attuned to the needs of their consumers.

Now is the time for brands to fill the void in the marketplace for beauty content that addresses virtual gatherings. This is especially important for the casual beauty participant, or someone who isn’t already following beauty influencers closely. By providing these tutorials, brands can help the average person who just wants to feel better about themselves as they continue living— and being seen— in a new virtual environment.

Bess Browning, Associate Media Director at EPM

Bess Browning has gained a knack for creating a rock-solid media plan and building client relationships after working in positions all across the industry, including managing digital media at Angie’s List and working in marketing at Amazon. Now, as a critical part of EchoPoint Media, she’s put those skills to good use managing digital media buying and planning for clients across the agency's roster.