The online environment has allowed beauty brands to directly engage with their target audience, with mobile technology and social media making these connections seamless. For start-ups and smaller brands, this has made raising brand awareness and interactions significantly easier given that they do not necessarily have to depend on traditional retail touchpoints to engage consumers, with marketing and engagement efforts being focused online.
However, this in turn means that niche players do need to maximize the look and feel of their online websites and social media pages to effectively convey their brand, personality, and story, as well as using them more creatively, particularly if this is the channel they are most visible through.
Taking brands such as Too Cool For School for example, their online platform showcases not only their products but also the quirky world and personality of Too Cool For School. This includes artists the brand has collaborated with to create some of their ranges, as well as the story behind the brand focusing on contemporary culture and experimentation.
Two-way conversation: brand to consumer
Similarly, using the online environment to convey a two way dialogue with consumers and valuing their opinions is also a unique way by which niche and independent brands have sought to maximize their presence online and differentiate. A notable example being Glossier’s Milky Jelly which was crowdsourced from the opinions of its blog followers.
The flexibility that independent brands have over their presence online, effectively conveying brands as personalities rather than just products, creates a sense of authenticity and realness, appealing to today’s consumers who are becoming used to, and even tired of, shrewdly crafted marketing messages and artificial experiences. This in particular resonates with millennials given that they are the age cohort most likely to pay a premium for authenticity/'genuineness' according to GlobalData’s 2016 research.
Going forward, the challenge will be for niche brands to retain this charm, particularly as established players seek growth through the acquisition of such brands to capitalize on their “organic” authenticity.
Similarly as established players seek to take inspiration from marketing cues used by niche brands, for example harnessing social media bloggers and vloggers rather than traditional celebrity ambassadors to resonate with the online community and take advantage of the “realness” they deliver, niche brands will be under ever more pressure to use online more creatively to promote their authentic, individualistic, and unique personalities.