Nowhere is this clearer than on social media. With the industry initially slow to act on social’s potential, the rise of popular, non-professional vloggers and reviewers dominated the space with their authentic and communicative posts.
From this backdrop, indie beauty has emerged as something of a melting pot of key trends of authenticity, reactivity and professional standard product offerings on social media. We talked to experts, market analysts and brands in the scene to discover more.
The power of agility
The Hero Project is an indie player based in the UK, whose innovative business model is tightly bound up in the potential of social.
The company scours online beauty stores, blogs and reviews looking for consumer favourite products: they hunt down not just the best items in consumers’ estimation, but also dig out the areas where these products can be improved.
The Hero Project then invests in the R&D of formulas and packaging to craft - in theory - the ideal beauty product. A sort of crowdsourcing of curation.
“All sensible beauty companies use the internet to conduct research; for social listening, interaction with consumers and prospects and to drive reviews and positive sentiment around their brands. However, what they can realistically do with that information really differs, and a lot is down to business size and agility,” explain Holly Tomlin, head of global marketing and communications, and Nora Zukauskaite, global brand manager.
“Being part of a growing SME, THE HERO PROJECT is better placed not only to listen, but to react to consumers' product ideas and feedback via digital channels in a timely manner. So much so, that we already have 20k + consumers signed up to our database wanting to get involved in the project to help make amazing beauty products.”
It comes down to being responsive to consumers needs within the tight timeframes that internet users are coming to expect, and offering a meaningful dialogue, according to the brand’s spokespeople.
“Consumers are the rightful heartbeat of the brand and give us the guidance and critique to make products that truly deliver in terms of packaging, formula and results. Being more agile, we can deliver these to market within a shorter timeframe than traditionally possible. Larger beauty houses are often constrained by high MOQs and long NPD pipelines and are just less authentic in this space,” they note.
“We feel it's where the indie brands, like us, can really get standout and gain traction.”
A place to grow
The power of being both reactive and authentic is a situation that Jillian Wright, co-founder of the Indie Beauty Media Group, agrees is giving indie players the edge.
“Social media is a major lifeline for indie brands to connect, market and communicate with their audience,” she says.
“They are in full control of the content and story they want to tell to build their brand. Often times, indie brands start on social because it is a fast and economical way to build an audience and be in full control. The audience loves this connection because not only does it feel authentic, it often times is.”
In a time of increasing emphasis on trust and transparency, this dialogue between consumer and brand becomes ever more important, and as a result, lucrative.
“When someone has a question or concern, they are going directly to the source and that builds trust. Social sharing, validation, and the movement of a story in real time can catapult a brand to scale and success. The web of communication unfolds in a way that weaves a potential customer, influencer, and blogger ending in a retail relationship,” concludes Wright. “It’s all intertwined."