How do beauty brands cut through the buzz and gain cult status? Retail analyst, Heather Ibberson takes a look at some established cult brands and new niche brands creating demand for product that customers can’t get enough.
Want to know the secret? Here are three ingredients that top cult beauty brands bake into their DNA.
1. One hero product
Brand recognition here comes from having one hero product that captures the brand’s essence e.g Anastasia Beverly Hills for brows. The product is likely to be the customers’ first introduction to the brand, which is why many choose to offer their bestsellers in minis to entice new customers to try the product at a lower cost. Many brands now launch with one product and build off that initial success e.g Summer Fridays. Product names are also important for creating hype around a product, for instance, NARS bestselling blush in Orgasm.
2. Clean/Vegan Ingredients
Cult, indie brands are often raved about for their innovation – especially when it comes to skincare for which ingredient-conscious and naturally derived brands have received a lot of attention. Sephora has recently expanded their clean beauty list (which is identified by their green seal of approval) from 13 to 50 ingredients that products have to be formulated without.
3. Speak to millennials
Social media plays a huge role in the success of a cult brand. Word-of-mouth marketing is considered more trustworthy and authentic among millennials who look to influencers for product recommendations, which has seen the success of Instagram accounts such as @gelcream. Similarly, blog ‘In The Gloss’, founded by Glossier’s Emily Weiss, has a popular Top Shelf series where celebrities and makeup-artists give behind-the-scenes, exclusive insider insight into their favorite products.
Cult beauty’s effect on retail
Indie brands have become crucial to the success of mass-market beauty retailers who, seeing the success of Sephora, are looking to revamp their beauty offerings to include more sought-after, niche brands that today’s customer is looking for. Furthermore, it also comes as a shift away from traditional, purely transactional purchases to more experience-based stores e.g Glossier’s fun selfie mirrors.
Boots Beauty Hall
Boots have reinvented their in-store beauty hall experience, replacing traditional counters with ‘trending zones’ and ‘discovery areas’. Moreover, they are hiring ‘Beauty specialists’ who can offer personalized beauty solutions across brands rather than just at one counter – similar to Sephora’s model. The high-street retailer is also launching 20 new cult beauty brands such as BECCA, Nip & Fab and The Ordinary.
Amazon Indie Beauty Shop
In June 2018, Amazon launched its Indie Beauty Shop to elevate its presence in the beauty industry. As the brands have to be at least 50% owned by an independent operator and not sold at mass retailers, customers are able to find those niche, under-the-radar brands before anyone else.
The rise of subscription boxes allows customers to discover new, indie brands in sample size products before choosing to purchase full-size items at a higher price point. After all, Glossybox is famous for their subscription box goodies. The service is great for consumers wanting to discover emerging brands alongside familiar favorites.
Ones to watch out for
So this US makeup brand has quickly garnered a cult following for their 100% vegan, cruelty and paraben-free products. Its simple packaging is instantly recognizable and mainly comes in a stick or tube form. Their marketing focuses on experimentation and self-expression with the hashtag #LiveYourLook.
Skincare savior Sunday Riley is known for its high-performance luxury products that are scientifically advanced. Notably, the brand has earned its cult status within the beauty community for its fast, visible results with the retinol-rich Luna Sleeping Night Oil being a top seller.
The INKEY List
New to the game, The INKEY List has truly grabbed the attention of the beauty industry for its high-quality ingredients and low prices which range between £5 – £10. Specifically, the brand prides itself on its pared-back approach to beauty marketing in favor of simple product names that do what it says on the tin.
Written by retail analyst, Heather Ibberson
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