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The Changing Face of Beauty Advertising

With more and more cynicism over retouching and the UK advertising regulators cracking down on misleading claims by beauty advertisers, brands in the beauty sector are being forced to consider the tipping point when the ‘face plus slogan’ no longer persuades as powerfully as it once did. Here, the team at creative and strategic agency Circle look at how beauty brands can get a fresh look.

From a stroll through the ground floor of a high street department store to a quick flick through the pages of any glossy gossip magazine, beauty advertising appears, dare we say it — boring.

The diversity of consumers and brands fails to shine through and we are left with the same expressionless women in the same close-ups offering the same promise time and time again. It seems to be a tried, tested but tired formula, but times are changing.

The Dove “Real Beauty” campaign broke the mould, succeeding in its mission to “create a world where beauty is a source of confidence not anxiety”. If this told us anything, it’s that consumers are yearning for something different – messages they can respond to and brands they can truly believe in.

So, what should brands be doing to increase loyalty, communicate innovation and give their products meaning in an increasingly competitive market? Here are our five key insights that beauty brands should consider:

1. Don’t just innovate products
Brands in the beauty category are great innovators. There are more patents pending within this sector than in nearly any other. Almost every major player has at least a half a dozen new product developments a year. With all that product design and research, innovative connection planning should be a natural and needed step. Brands that can utilize the red button on your screen or get in bed with a tech company to create meaningful dialogue with the modern consumer will stay relevant as content consumption evolves.

2. Speak with emotion and empathy
Most consumers make choices based on these. After all the posturing of formulas, results and benefits, what is left for the consumer to make decision on? Truly engaging with the consumer’s notion of how they want to feel from using the product resonates much more than double-entendres.

3. The beauty of sampling
Beauty products is a very personal decision, and it’s one that’s often scrutinized by the individual to get just the right look, feel or smell, whether it’s cosmetics, skin care or fragrance. Traditional approaches to beauty marketing are out of touch with today’s fast-paced multimedia environment. No longer is it enough to pitch the features and benefits of a product.

Instead, consumers seek a holistic experience to which they can relate and sample products. And it’s proving to be good business. According to the Opinion Research Corporation, a global market research firm, 81% of consumers will buy a product after they receive a free sample.

4. Reinvention and collaboration
Just like the fashion sector, beauty brands are most powerful when offering something on the forward edge of trends. A red nail varnish is much more than just that if it comes in beautiful packaging stamped with an Anya Hindmarsh logo and leather handles. Keeping the playing field dynamic and unexpected will mean a brand can pick up newer, younger fans by breaking into unconventional partnerships.

5. Word of mouth
Recommendations are more likely to convert to purchase than traditional advertising. Once upon a time, it was the neighbours talking over the fence or the lipstick swappers in toilets on a night out. Today, it’s an entire sub-industry of bloggers and tweeters living online and co-existing to find the longest lasting lipstick or the next best secret in treatments. Brands that ignore this influential group in this day and age do so at their peril.

Today, as the prevailing model of beauty advertising stares in the face of changing media consumption, it’s clear that brands not only have to stand out but also stand for something. It’s important to carve out part of the market, take hold of it, and be its vanguard. By achieving this, brands will not only become inspired leaders to the audience but ultimately inspired leaders of the sector.

Circle brings people and brands together. We develop creative solutions and strategies that work across the most appropriate mix of channels to engage and persuade the audience. And it’s our passion to deliver work that both charms and is measurably effective.
Get in touch via or call +44 (0) 207 637 5337.

The Red Tree is the UK’s leading international beauty brand consultancy and a powerhouse of ideas, insight and inspiration. For an informal discussion on how we might help you, please contact us.

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