BeautyX Demand Generation Summit (previously the Media & Influencers Summit) hosted its third year in Los Angeles with an expanded curriculum that addressed the rapid changes in an increasingly digital marketplace. Over 150 beauty entrepreneurs, editors and influencers gathered for two days of learning and networking. If you couldn’t attend, here are some key takeaways.
Stay tuned as more announcements are made about our upcoming BeautyX Retail Summit in Dallas, May 11/12, and BeautyX Capital Summit in New York, August 19/20. (Early bird ticket pricing for BeautyX Retail Summit are now available!).
Understanding Demand Generation
Indie Beauty Media Group Co-Founder Nader Naeymi-Rad laid out the infrastructure to scale and grow your brand, which begins with a comprehensive look at the market and why some products sell, and others do not. He categorized the stages of consumer behavior — Awareness, Demand Realization, Repeat Purchases, and Advocacy – and how you can leverage each one.
“Almost everything has to be sold, nothing sells itself. With products, brand founders get so enamored with what they do they just assume people will pick it up. You need to persuade people they need your product.” – Nader
Your Website Is Your Brand
Christopher Napolitano of IBMG’s Education and Thought Leadership team discussed the importance of User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) as they pertain to your brand’s website, why search engine marketing is significant for visibility, and how you can measure and track data to improve customer outreach.
“People won’t use the website the way you think they’re going to. Seventy percent of traffic will come through on mobile. There’s more to this than having the consumer do something you want them to do. You have to entice them to want to come back again and again.” – Chris
The Promise And Pitfalls Of Social Media
Beauty Independent Editor Claire McCormack detailed the multi-channel opportunities available on the web for brands to advertise and reach their target customers while also strategizing how to allocate their marketing spend for the best ROI, especially on a limited budget.
“VC backed brands say 40-80% of the money they raise goes to digital advertising. New brands are joining every day. This means it gets more difficult for emerging brands to cut through the clutter to get noticed. Your digital ad spend will also go up.” – Claire
The Art Of Social Listening
Christopher Napolitano, in tandem with Cassandra Boler, from IBMG’s Marketing & Communications department, outlined why data matters when it comes to measuring social media and website performance and how to increase engagement that ultimately translates to conversion. They highlighted various tools, resources and strategies to help brands gain traction and build trust with their consumers.
“Instagram has now become the cost of doing business. Working with our Retail Buyer & Relations team we always provide the social handles of our brands because they want to see how you interact with the community and represent your brand. It’s very important. So even if you can’t maintain it on a daily basis, you definitely want to have a presence.” – Cassandra
Each table of ten was hosted by an IBMG representative. Their job? To solicit the following information from each of the guests sitting with them: 1.) Name and background. 2.) A guilty pleasure, 3.) What business challenge do you foresee in 2020? The conversation starters connected the attendees with many of them sharing similar professional pain points, as well as humorous guilty pleasures, like binge-watching popular TV shows or watching endless cat videos on Instagram!
Winning Social Media Strategies
Beauty Independent Editor-in-Chief Rachel Brown led an insightful conversation with brand founders Gigi Goldman of Kopari, Priscilla Tsai of Cocokind, and Lauren Napier of her eponymous brand on how to link social media to broader marketing plans. They shared their evolving strategies on working with influencers, creating authentic messaging, and gaining (and keeping) consumer interest and trust.
“Metrics don’t always tell the full story. It’s test, pivot, test, pivot. It’s not perfect science. Neither is building a brand and neither is a person.” – Gigi Goldman, Kopari
The Art Of Instagram
Cassandra Boler dissected the rapidly evolving business model that is Instagram and how brands with small budgets can still play even if they can’t pay, or pay very much.
“You have to understand the opportunity that Instagram presents. People are making a lot of money, it’s there, but it’s up to you to capitalize on the opportunity according to your business needs.” – Cassandra
Under The Influence
IBMG Co-Founder Jillian Wright uncovered what makes a successful influencer/brand collaboration and how to build a win-win relationship on both sides. Influencers Jessica Franklin @heygorjess, Ashley Cooper @ashleylizcooper, Caitlyn Chase of Caviar & Cashmere, and the Vike twins, Alina and Inessa, discuss measuring the value proposition of working with influencers and what brands need to consider before entering partnerships.
Influence and Caviar & Cashmere founder Caitlyn shared: “Brands want to make long standing relationships. One off relationships tend to fail and plummet. The audience is tuning into that and can see the inauthenticity. I have seen so much ROI working with a select group of influencers who truly love my brand. The authenticity is there and it’s organic.”
Influencers: Friend or Faux
Jane Carlson outlined examples of successful and unsuccessful influencer/brand partnerships and how indie brands can utilize this area of digital marketing to their advantage.
“These influencer partnerships work, but it’s on you as the brand to do the due diligence. You’re going to have to put in the elbow grease once you find what type of influencer you want to work with and give yourself time knowing that you’re going to have to pivot oftentimes and that’s okay.” – Jane
The Ipsy Influence
Relationship building was at the center of Claire McCormack’s discussion with Ipsy’s VP of Marketing, Corey Weiss, and influencers Amina Marie @aminamarie and Alexandra Potora @alexandrapotora who both work with the subscription box brand. Weiss talked about the rapidly changing digital landscape and how companies like Ipsy are building creator communities to further their reach, while Marie and Potora emphasized the importance of inclusive content.
“Long term relationships will be the future of influencer relationships. One of the things that’s been successful is having the creator community and continuing to invest in those relationships.” – Weiss
Email Marketing Essentials
Christopher Napolitano reveals the science behind one of the cheapest ways to reach consumers (email) and how to build the right-sized database and send direct mail campaigns that work and convert.
“Email marketing does everything you want a communications tool to do. It raises awareness, demand realization, repeat purchases and advocacy. This is your direct line of contact with people who have said, at least once, that they’re interested in you and gave you their email. What you do with that and how they react is important.” – Chris
Pixi Beauty Tricks: Building A Global Brand
Rachel Brown interviewed the president of Pixi Beauty, Felix Strand, about how the company boosted sales by working with influencers. Strand outlined why 80% of their marketing spend is focused on digital and predicted that emerging platforms are the future for indies.
“You are building brand equity. It’s all about finding different people and backgrounds to hit all the different markets because our main thing is inclusivity. We don’t think everyone needs to look like a supermodel.” – Strand
Summit attendees enjoyed recapping Day One over an open bar with fellow entrepreneurs and IBMG team members. Read more takeaways from Day 1 here >
State Of Demand Generation 2020
“Social media will become fully pay-to-play. In the future, there will be no organic growth for brands.” Claire McCormack kicked off day two with this sobering reality, but provided optimism citing 5G tech is going to expand the mobile experience significantly and online shopping will eventually eclipse in-store shopping. That doesn’t mean brick and mortar is going away; it will just morph. As a brand you can’t just rely on DTC if you want to scale and attract VC backing. You need both and McCormack described the ideal model to achieve those goals.
Jane Carlson, head of PR & Influencer Relations for IBMG, talked with the founders of three PR companies: Robin Tolkan-Doyle of Charmed PR, Kilee Hughes of Six One Agency, and Erin Kelly of Erin Kelly PR. The trio shared insights on the ways securing press coverage has changed with the growth of digital advertising, influencers, affiliate companies, and increased competition among indie brands trying to establish differentiation in a crowded market.
“PR doesn’t happen overnight. All the brands out there have some sort of PR initiative going on. You’re battling with all of that. We can cut through, but it can be a longer process than most people would like.” – Erin Kelly
Beauty Editors: The Evolution
Jillian Wright spoke with beauty editors Liz Ritter of NewBeauty, Erin Magner of Well+Good, Maureen Choi of Violet Grey, and Rachel Brown of Beauty Independent about what changes in the media landscape mean for brands. “When you’re at a disadvantage in the market and don’t have a big name, it takes a community to lift you up and we are part of that community,” said Brown of covering indie brands.
Sustainability initiatives, formulation, origin stories, and creating new categories were also identified as points of interest for the editors. Choi emphasized the visual element must go hand-in-hand with efficacy, “In the age of Insta you do have a leg up if the packaging is eye catching. But for real longevity, it does matter what the formulation is.”
Activating Demand At Retail
Christopher Napolitano addressed the next phase of demand generation (from shelf to register) and how brands can successfully make the leap. Cayli Cavaco Reck of Knockout Beauty, Amy Liu of Tower 28, Sonia Summers of Beauty Barrage and Mel Sweet of Planet Beauty all agreed that relationship building with the sales associates are key to in-store conversions. Urged Summers, “Connect with staff members. You want them to speak like you and tell your brand ethos.” Echoed Reck, “It’s imperative you have a great relationship with the sales department. Check in and make sure people have what they want.”
A Conversation With Amanda Chantal Bacon
Claire McCormack and Moon Juice founder, Amanda Chantal Bacon, closed the two-day summit with a positive reflection on where the industry is headed and how education is at the core of innovation and progress.
Said Bacon, “Sephora knows that wellness is here and it’s not going anywhere. Everyone’s got to integrate it. The future of wellness is really finding that middle path and taking the genius that allopathic has to offer. We should never ignore Western medicine, instead, bridging those two things in an intelligent way moving forward.”
Bacon talked about building her business in the pre-Instagram age, fundraising, negative press, and the importance of in-person connection in today’s increasingly digital world. In her final remarks she gave some sage advice to other indie entrepreneurs. “Get really comfortable with not knowing how to do everything and not being good at everything. Get really into what you know you are good at.” Concluded Bacon, “If you feel honest and feel you’re doing the right thing, there’s little that can take you down. Use that to steer your life.” Read more about the interview here >
The interactive portion of the summit was a media pitch competition. Three IBELA 2020 exhibiting brands were each assigned a PR advisor to help them perfect their media pitch and then conducted mini-desksides vying for the attention of three different beauty editors, as well as the audience. Liz Ritter, executive editor at NewBeauty, and Rachel Brown, Beauty Independent’s editor in chief both chose Winged CBD—a female-focused cannabis wellness and beauty brand, as the winner. Well+Good editor Erin Magner picked Kegelbell, a pelvic floor training system that also scored the audience prize.
The speed-dating style competition was an immersive application of two days of learning and a fun culmination to the summit. Winged CBD’s Jessica Mulligan, Kegelbell’s Stephanie Schull and NHCO Botanical’s Nicole Hawthorne had five minutes each to pitch their brands to the panel of beauty editors.
The Deskside Domination competition gives participants and attendees both a rare opportunity to hear post-pitch evaluations straight from editors. “The feedback was amazing,” says Mulligan. “You usually don’t get that kind of feedback when you’re doing a real deskside, [the editors] are like, ‘Yup, OK, bye.’” Read more about the competition here >
Next up: join us in Dallas, TX for the BeautyX Retail Summit! Learn more >