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The Face of Change: Social Media's Impact on Beauty Branding

By: Jamison Davis
Posted: October 1, 2008

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While the first generation of beauty brand sites allowed marketers to showcase, promote and sell products directly, missing was the essential word-of–mouth authenticity that provided that extra assurance that a certain shade of powder really was “your” color. The absence of this important dimension to personalized selling was soon corrected with consumer-created content. Blogs, profile pages on social networks (such as Facebook and MySpace) containing consumer’s recommended brands and favorites, and the addition of consumer comment fields on marketer Web sites heralded a new dawn of peer recommendation. Many consumers started to take notice of these newfound opportunities, and developed a whole new category of must-visit Web destinations. Today, fashion forward, beauty conscious men and women have created more than 248 million pages of personal content on the Internet.

While the explosion of the beauty blogosphere constituted a powerful new channel for brands and afforded consumers unbiased, objective and timely information about the latest trends in beauty, consumers still couldn’t purchase the product immediately—a unique quality of the e-commerce capabilities of the brand-owned sites. However, in time a new generation of Web sites entered the scene, combining the peer-review authenticity of blogs and the e-commerce capabilities of e-retailers—social economics.

Social economics sites are Web sites that give a consumer the ability to review other consumer’s recommendations on products, read reviews and ratings, and then purchase the product directly from the site via links to the product’s landing page on its original site. While the social shopping site provides the description, reviews, rating and links, the brand’s own site or e-retail partners are responsible for the actual fulfillment and shipping of the product.

Examples of social economics sites for beauty include Polyvore, Shop Star Style and Fashmatch, where consumers can read what cosmetics are popular through recommendations from like-minded peers. If they like what they see, consumers can buy their own product instantly. This concept has been further advanced with the development of shopping widgets, fully-functional social shopping applications that can live on any site and dispense reviews, content and commerce.

Point of Recommendation

Social shopping sites and widgets constitute the next evolution of the shopping blog. Combining the authenticity and passion of consumer-generated content and editorial with the added capability for the brand to distribute its own content, such as video or web-based information, these sites offer the product for sale at the moment of recommendation. It’s little wonder among marketers that an important new buzzword eclipsing the traditional “point of purchase” is the new concept of “point of recommendation.” Consumers who blog and create content on the Internet enjoy adding widgets and shopping applications to their sites as a “cosmetic enhancement” to their content.