Behind lipstick psychology: smart content for beauty brands

As an avid women’s media enthusiast, I usually enjoy the different forms of branded content they feature. Dior’s branded article in PureWow last October is no exception – the proof being I actually remember it! Let me explain why I believe their lipstick psychology approach was a smart move to promote the brand’s Dior Addict lipsticks.

Dior PureWow lipstick psychology

The lipstick psychology format is intriguing

The “tell me what you do, I’ll tell who you are” formats are nothing new in women’s media. Tell me what you eat, what movies you watch, what you wear, and I’ll tell you your main personality traits and share precious recommendations with you. You’ve all seen it in multiple articles and tests, whether on print or online. Yet, the format doesn’t seem to get old. We still read these articles and take these tests. Just look at Buzzfeed’s success, based on articles you’ll read and share with your friends. Millennials are digging those fun contents, and there’s an added bonus when the recommendation is actually something valuable – like lipstick shades that would match our personality.

The integration of product recommendations answers readers’ concerns

For each lipstick profile, Dior and PureWow recommend 2 to 4 shades that should match your style. With a simple click on a shade, you are redirected to Dior’s e-shop so that you can purchase the Dior Addict lipstick in your favorite shade. It’s clearly laid out on the PureWow page, easy to understand you have the product shade name and number under the color) and user-friendly.

The graphic and editorial outcome fits the PureWow style and the elegance of Dior

Using PureWow’s usual fonts and white background, as well as the media’s friendly tone, the article stays in touch with the audience’s expectations. Still, it perfectly fits within Dior’s range: the way shades are featured on pretty white cards reminds readers of the brand’s paper cards you would spray perfume on. The lipstick marks on the side of the page also remind viewers of the gesture they have when drawing a lipstick line on their hand to see how a shade looks on them. Everything is designed to look pretty and fresh, while reminding readers of a real in-store experience.

To sum up, brands can continue using the “tell me what you do, I’ll tell you who you are” format in media as long as they fit in with the audience expectations and keep it light and fun. Because the brand’s ultimate objective may be sales, but this is not the reason readers check this media.

How series are impacting luxury ads

Some say brand content is doomed to disappear, others say it just needs to be reinvented. I think it is still very alive and adopting the codes of popular contents among millenials. The latest example that caught my attention is Kate Spade New York’s latest campaign called #Missadventure season 2, which was launched on March 28th.

The East Coast preppy fashion brand is making a statement with a series of videos targeted to young women, featuring millenials’ insights (relying on apps for everything, anyone?), social media codes, and a focus on TV-like entertainment – notably with the participation TV shows actresses (Girl‘s Zosia Mamet and 2 Broke Girls‘s Kat Dennings).

As a series enthusiast, I can only appreciate the initiative from the brand. While the first season of the #Missadventure campaign, staring actress Anna Kendrick, was clearly a way to showcase Kate Spade products in funny and relatable situations for young women (with the possibility to click on items during the video and see all related information after the video credentials), this second season is starting off with a more constructed scenario, if I dare say so. The first episode is slightly longer than in the previous season (4 minutes for this one, compared to 2:30 to 3:45 minutes for the previous ones), and the brand copied some codes from TV shows with a teaser and videos focusing on each of the main characters. Contents were shared on the brand’s social media channels with catchy posts inspired by TV shows teasing campaigns (see example below).

Not only are the videos and teasing campaign greatly executed, they also leverage relatable insights for millenial women while sharing the luxurious, preppy and feminine identity of the Kate Spade brand. I definitely will watch the next videos, not only to satisfy my marketer’s curiosity, but also to find out the rest of the characters’ adventures. I guess Kate Spade’s campaign worked on me!

Vogue made its 2015 It Bag choice democratic

Fashion is quite arbitrary and undemocratic: designers push trends on runways, influencers pick them and crowds follow them. What bag will be the year’s must-wear is fashion professionals’ job, not yours. Vogue being a key fashion source, it is all the more unexpected that the magazine held a contest to elect the official Vogue It Bag of the year.

Vogue It Bag 2015 election (Source: Vogue)

Vogue It Bag 2015 election (Source: Vogue)

Vogue selected 10 promising bags and opened the contest on January 26, 2015. Each bag had its own mini campaign: poster, description, video, pictures… Check the example of Dior’s Diorama bag.

With a countdown until voting began, Vogue created rarity and waiting for an online campaign, reflecting some principles inherent to luxury. The campaign lasted 8 days. Vogue published the results on February 3, 2015: Fendi’s Micro Peekaboo Bag got 20% of participants’ votes and was elected the magazine’s It Bag of the year.

Vogue shared the contest on its mobile site, Facebook page, Pinterest, and Twitter account. It also created a #ItBag2015 hashtag allowing us to follow the online movement. And it met quite some success.

What does a contest like this bring to Vogue, and, more importantly for us, to brands?

It definitely brought traffic to Vogue’s online magazine, mostly from Vogue’s social media platforms, but also from sharing on social media and referrals in articles featuring the story. It increased participation with the magazine, and probably lengthened the average visit. Finally, it gave Vogue one more topic to use throughout numerous articles.

Finally, bags selected as candidates also benefited from the contest. Brands gained general exposure, being featured in a major story on vogue.com. The mini campaigns on each bag added to the storytelling associated with it. Being a contest, it likely draw more positive feelings to the products and brands than a simple advertising campaign as visitors felt included in a major fashion trend: the It Bag of the year. Sales probably increased for the ten contenders, and those of Fendi’s mini bag must have skyrocketed even more. Such a contest must also have increased brands’ online exposure; it’s reasonable to think brands’ social media accounts gained new followers at a faster rate than usual, and their websites and e-commerce platforms must have also encountered a peak in traffic.

Contests are frequently used by brands to offer fans a chance to win gifts, or a voucher. I believe it’s even more interesting from brands when the contest comes from an external source (here Vogue). Especially since it is about content – Vogue didn’t send It Bags to voters but it did attract voters from all over the world.

Takeaway lessons from Longchamp’s partnership with InStyle

Branded content is tricky. You want to build a stronger, closer connection with your customers while delivering content that is valuable to them. You want to stay away from simple advertising disguised as actual content but you also want your brand to be remembered and the content to fit your brand’s DNA.

Longchamp recently partnered with US magazine InStyle to feature a story on their website. With a video realized by InStyle Studio and an article written by the magazine’s staff, clearly mentioning the partnership with the brand, this operation shows efforts of transparency … This reinforces the impact of the sponsored content. Here are a few things Longchamp nailed with this article, released online on February 17th, 2015.

1. FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER

Knowing your audience is key to delivering the right, most catchy content to them. Longchamp is very successful in North America, hence it partnering with one of the most read American women’s magazine. InStyle’s website is dynamic and attracting lots of fashion-focused visitors. Longchamp can only benefit from such exposure on InStyle.com.

2. TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Longchamp didn’t just seize an opportunity for native advertising. The brand waited for a time when InStyle.com gets even more daily visits than usual: the New York Fashion Week (February 12 – February 19, 2015). This is a time when the website lives at its fullest, with articles posted everyday about fashion shows, street-styles, front rows, etc. Traffic is stronger than normally, which increases the likelihood of visitors reading the article about the brand, and thereby improve brand awareness. That is, if the article isn’t drowned by Fashion Week articles. Which is why it was smart to release the article at the end of the week, a little bit after the rush.

Video still from Longchamp x InStyle Studio

Video still from Longchamp x InStyle Studio

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Longchamp’s collaboration with InStyle embraces simplicity. There is one video, showing accessories worn in the streets of New York, throughout the character’s day. The emphasis is put on the items, which reminds us of Longchamp’s 2011 web-series “Heels” (in partnership with online magazine AuFeminin.com).

The article itself is simple as well: it’s short and clearly states that Longchamp purses are what you need to face your busy New Yorker life with style. This straightforwardness is just what the reader needs to be set in a positive mindset about what comes next.

4. EMBRACE CTAs

The article gives more space to the items than to words. Pictures speak for themselves and visitors are shown the accessories from the video to support the following point: Longchamp accessories are practical and stylish, therefore adapted to your lifestyle. Each item picture is followed by the item’s information (name and price) and a call-to-action button to shop directly on the company’s e-commerce site.

There you have it: 4 simple elements that helped Longchamp succeed with branded content.