August 23, 2021

5 Ways to Build a Clean Beauty Brand for Long-Term Success

Kimberly Shenk
Indie Brands

Building a clean beauty brand in today’s complex beauty landscape can feel overwhelming and daunting, to say the least. How do you find your own space? How can you ensure growth? How do you build for success or compete with the industry leaders? There are a million more marketing questions where these came from. Today we’re going to walk you through the fundamental building blocks you’ll need to ensure you’re setting your clean beauty brand up for long-term success.

Long-term success in a complex industry isn’t about short-term growth tactics, quick fixes, or pumping endless marketing dollars into certain channels. The big beauty executives know this and you should too— building your brand for long-term has no exact formula, but there are a few key things.

1. Know who you are as a brand

Photo by Tero Vesalainen via pixabay

The way to build space in a complex market is to know exactly who you are, and who you aren’t. Early beauty brands often make the mistake of going broad with marketing tactics such as consumer segmentation, channel marketing, and product architecture amongst others. As tempting as this may seem, marketing too broadly results in brands losing their unique identity in the market.

Instead, don’t be afraid to say no to opportunities that do not align with your brand’s values, mission, and unique personality. For example, Soko Glam’s Charlotte Cho was approached by the largest beauty retailers and investors when she first launched her beauty startup, Then I Met You. However, she turned them all down, wanting the brand to have its own distinct personality and community, separate from her k-beauty platform, Soko Glam.

2. Build trust in your consumer journey

For everyday beauty consumers, clean beauty may feel more like a buzzword than a brand standard. It doesn’t help that the beauty industry often gets into trouble for greenwashing. Additionally, the clean beauty market is complex within the already crowded beauty industry.

To address this complexity, build trust and transparency into multiple touchpoints across your brand’s consumer journey. For example, Beauty Counter’s home page layout (see above) spotlights the brand’s clean beauty policies, mission, and report in the top one-third of the page. There are similar examples of their comprehensive and strict clean beauty policies on their hero product page, their clean beauty guide, and sustainable packaging page. Practicing transparent marketing practices as a brand both consistently builds consumer trust and a competitive advantage in the market.

Marketplaces like Novi help brands save significant time and resources by partnering on building transparency and authenticity into your end-to-end supply chain and consumer journey.

3. Choose your marketing battlegrounds

If you’re an early-stage brand, you have the advantage of choosing your battlegrounds. You don’t need to win every category or every channel, just the ones that are right for you. For example, Tula is one of the fastest growing clean beauty brands in the prestige skincare industry, seeing a 400% increase in DTC sales in April 2020. Though TULA executives planned on pursuing an omnichannel strategy in the long term, they focused on building out their influencer marketing channel during the early days.

In an interview with MediaPost, CEO Savannah Sachs shared, “[influencer marketing is our] largest performance channel in terms of revenue … and also our most efficient”. Today, TULA has transformed the playbook on influencer marketing, thanks to their focus on strategy and brand innovation.

4. Build in-house, data-driven processes

Photo by Photo MIX Company via pixabay

The gift of today’s marketer is the sheer abundance of consumer and market data available to brand teams. In a complex marketplace, use data to fuel future brand strategy and innovation, and create long-term marketing processes within your company that can continuously fuel insights and learnings into your ongoing programming.

E.l.f. Beauty uses its ‘Beauty Squads Rewards’ loyalty program to collect data from its 2.5 million members to build out its in-house data collection ecosystem and help innovate across multiple brand and marketing touchpoints by expanding the brand’s SMS text message marketing, personalizing product recommendations on its DTC e-commerce, and forming user personas.  

In exchange for this data collection, the loyalty program offers consumers fun benefits like free birthday gifts, discounts, and early access to product launches and sales.

5. Cultivate relevant influencer relationships

The influencer economy is one that any budding brand can no longer afford to ignore. Today, influencers are just as important for discovery, visibility, and engagement as traditional  paid channels. For consumer trust, this is even more critical. If you’re wondering where to put your money in a market full of creators, start by understanding your campaign goals.

There are as many influencers today as there are marketing channels themselves, so first, holistically understand their audience, engagement, authenticity, values, relevance, content, and frequency. Then, match them with your budget, campaign goals, brand values, target audience, relevance and content strategy.

As tempting as it may be to go after established influencers, start building the right influencer community by going after the ones that truly align with your brand’s mission and values. In order to truly stand out in the clean beauty market, authenticity is the key to success.

Tula CEO Savannah Sachs shed light on their influencer strategy in a MediaPost interview: “We run [influencer marketing] entirely in-house. We almost see it as a distribution channel. We are partnering in long-term strategic ways with content creators who get a percentage of sales. They get a commission. Incentives are aligned, we see them as real entrepreneurs and almost as if they're digital storefronts. We run that influencer marketing channel like a performance channel, entirely based on ROI and we're tracking those sales directly through those influencer partners.”

Building an authentic, clean beauty brand for long-term success can be a long, arduous road ahead but the right strategy, brand relationships, and partners like Novi can help make this journey much easier.

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