Beauty is in the eye of the(se) beholders

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.
Martin Moodie

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“Consumers are now discovering and experiencing brands in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago,” says Gustavo Andriani, Senior Vice President and General Manager at MAC North America. An ad in a magazine or a presence on social media is not enough, he comments. “We need to physically be where they are.”

The quote comes from The (brilliant not failing) New York Times in a fascinating article penned by Elizabeth Holmes (click here for the full piece).  It describes a convention/exhibition with a difference, called Beautycon. Think Glastonbury meets Cosmoprof, Woodstock meets TFWA World Exhibition or, as Ms Holmes gloriously puts it “Sephora meets Coachella”.

“How are you paying attention to me as a loud, confident individual?”

Beautycon is a two-day festival of beauty products, sponsored by brands and awash with celebrities, KOLS, influencers, bloggers, Vloggers, heck even the odd (make that endangered species) traditional journalist.

Story and image: The New York Times

“Beautycon is not unlike a theme park, with hours-long lines, expensive food and the occasional chance to scream,” writes Ms Holmes drolly. “Tickets range from $50 for a single-day pass to $1,000 for two days of skip-the-lines VIP treatment.

“Beauty brands spend anywhere from $5,000 to more than a million dollars on their Beautycon build-outs. From these temporary havens, companies test and sell product, hand out samples, gather email addresses and host appearances with digital influencers.”

One of those influencers was American actress, author and model Drew Barrymore, who participated in a meet-and-greet with fans. She told the NYT that events such as Beautycon are a good way to reach out to younger beauty shoppers. These consumers demand a personal touch — often literally, in the form of a hug or selfie. The question, she said, is: “How are you paying attention to me as a loud, confident individual?”

Beautycon is getting plenty of attention, from consumers, publishers, brands… and retailers. LVMH-owned Sephora has unveiled its own response to Beautycon, dubbed Sephoria (tickets range from $99 to $449 with each level including a tiered level of giveaways).

I won’t steal any more of the NYT’s thunder – the article is too good and incisive for that and demands a full read on the publisher’s own platform. I can reveal though that it offers a compelling insight into how profoundly and how fast brand interaction with consumers is changing. That engagement ceased to be one-directional long ago and often as not it is the consumer who’s really in charge now. Retailers (and publishers) who wish to flourish in the future need to tune into the same radio frequency fast.

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