Truly Polished: How L’Oréal is Mastering Beauty Content

With more than 40 brands in its portfolio and $2.34 billion in national ad spending last year alone, it’s no wonder that L’Oréal is the world’s biggest and most recognizable beauty company. However, their domination in the category goes far beyond the shelves of your favorite stores and drawers in your own bathrooms. The brand is an undeniable superstar when it comes to “wow”ing consumers with picture-perfect beauty content.

Of course, the beauty category is a natural fit for content marketing. Women represent the largest demographic on blogging platforms and social media, giving brands the opportunity to educate and entertain consumers in an authentic way. Below, you’ll find some stats on the beauty category and what they mean for content.

  • U.S. beauty sales will grow to over $62 billion by 2016 (Source)
  • Beauty is Googled more than 4 billion times per year and search engines drive over 40% of clicks to beauty and skin care websites (Source)
  • 75% of prestige beauty shoppers reported they were somewhat/strongly influenced by product reviews/endorsements (Source)
  • In 2013, makeup videos received 9.8 billion video views on YouTube and the entire beauty category got 14.9 billion (Source)
  • The most popular types of beauty content videos created by beauty vloggers are product reviews and haul videos, followed by tutorials (Source)

As a parent brand, L’Oréal has a considerable audience on social properties with more than 19MM likes on Facebook, 234K followers on Twitter, 30K subscribers on YouTube and 338k followers on Instagram. But the brand took things one step further in 2011 by launching Makeup.com, a beautifully designed web portal that delivers high quality beauty content daily. The site combines DIYs with trend reporting, beauty news, expert tips and video content in a high end design with a tone that feels more “girlfriend to girlfriend” than brand to buyer.

Of course, tutorials play a large part in the brand’s overarching strategy. Says L’Oréal USA CMO Marie Gulin-Merle, “We find that consumers are always looking for help on how to get a look or how to tap into a new trend, so simple, easy-to-follow tutorials are generally successful, particularly when they relate to a new trend or product.” When paired alongside product recommendations from L’Oréal’s full portfolio, the result is a seamless integration that feels contextual and relevant without overselling.

YouTube beauty icons Michelle Phan (whose own make-up line is now manufactured by the brand) and Eva Gutowski are featured prominently alongside staff contributors, providing a level of expertise and authenticity that simultaneously extends the brand’s reach. “Working with YouTube influencers allows the brand to reach an elusive audience that’s crucial to the growth of the business in a very authentic and credible way,” says Gulin-Merle in an interview with Think With Google. “We don’t try to change the way the influencers communicate with their audiences—that’s what makes them successful.”

L’Oréal has taken a similar approach with Hairstyle.com, a content hub dedicated to hair trends, how to’s, news and street style. Here, the content is more streamlined, but equally premium, appealing to both men and women looking for styles to share at the salon and tips to make upkeep more manageable.

While the content on Makeup.com takes on a decidedly editorial tone, it takes on new life on social channels with highly visual material that begs sharing. The approach is undeniably appealing, pulling in more than 26k Twitter followers, 126k Pinterest followers, 27k Instagram followers and 807k Facebook likes.

There is much that marketers can learn from L’Oréal when developing a rich content property.

  • First, go with what works. Beauty and content are a natural fit that women are already consuming. The brand merely built off existing viewer behaviors to develop a strategy that was smart, simple and cohesive.
  • Partner with trusted experts when possible. By teaming up with recognizable faces in the category, L’Oréal is able to simultaneously humanize the brand, provide actionable tips to educate women about feeling their best and delegate content creation to pros with experience. It’s a win win situation for all.
  • Let your content, not your products, lead the way.

     On Makeup.com, a recommendation for a luxurious Kiehl’s masque to de-puff tired skin lives next to suggestions to use commonly found kitchen items like green tea and cucumber. While a number of L’Oréal brands and products are woven throughout the content, the focus on both Makeup.com and Hairstyle.com is kept on educating readers about skin care, hair trends, tips and beauty hacks.

With a sound strategy, gorgeous editorial design and category expertise in place, L’Oréal has successfully built a full-scale online beauty magazine from scratch, engaging fans with content that is as fresh as the faces it features.

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