The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Brand-less Beauty

Beauty branding is changing fast — hopefully for the benefit of consumers

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The world of beauty and the culture surrounding it has been subjected to a huge shift in the last few years. As many brands look to online influencers as a marketing strategy in place of print and TV ads, brand requirements and collections of products have had to change.

In a pre-influencer world, brands relied on the consumers need to buy into a fantasy world through beautiful models, perfect lives and the illusion of wealth. Through portraying a certain sort of persona in their ads, they could create a correlation between the product and ‘result’ in order to ensure sales.

However, within the global online community, that sort of marketing  is rapidly becoming irrelevent. With the rise of online communication, the population has become jaded and suspicious now as their worldview is not restricted to what they are fed by the mainstream media and in turn, it’s become difficult to sell products based on pretty packaging and a beautiful, smiling woman holding it in a photo because there are people honestly reviewing the same product online.

Word of mouth has always been the best tool for strategic growth and with many huge brands jumping on the online influencer bandwagon, many are starting to realise that if the product is good, people will talk about it regardless of packaging and celebrity endorsement.

In light of these consumer shifts, brands like The Ordinary have endeavoured to “skip the bullshit” and produce simple products that do what they say on the label. In an interview with ‘Fashionista’, according to The Ordinary’s CEO, Nicola Kilner, word of mouth recommendation is what encouraged them to focus on transparency, naming their products after the ingredients in them as well as charging production-line prices.

Kilner adds that cheap is not synonymous with bad quality whilst high prices do not guarantee satisfaction. Without the mark-ups, she likens her products to those in the healthcare industry; if you know the own brand painkillers work, why would you spend a fortune on others?

The company Brandless takes a similar approach to its products. The ‘beauty’ section of the website sells everyday necessities like shampoo, soap and moisturiser without the ‘brand tax’, ensuring everything comes to only $3 apiece. Tina Sharkey, the co-founder of the site, told Business Insider, “the false narrative of modern consumption that brands have created and products have created, was actually dying a fast and painful death.”

By removing that element from their products, Sharkey and her colleague, Ido Leffler, fill the space left behind with a comprehensive list of the ingredients in the product, also appearing to take on the truthful and no-bullshit approach. Even though many people are choosing not to purchase into a false lifestyle that the big namesprovide, the fact still remains that the seek an aspirational lifestyle beyond their means.

Despite the fact that the products have no branding themselves, the marketing of them through social media personalities and celebrities perpetuate the concept. Perhaps in a distance future  we may outgrow our desire for branded beauty products all  together so long as they serve their purpose!