We talked to the CEO of Beautycon to find out more about a beauty brand that has successfully built a legion of young fans…
When we asked 13-33-year-olds what their favorite beauty or personal care brand was, one thing was clear: innovation beats out loyalty. Millennials and teens are more than willing to try something new on the off chance they’ll like it more, and this behavior is impacting all industries—especially the beauty industry. As we’ve said before, gone are the women who stuck with one lipstick shade, or a signature scent for decades—their granddaughters have taken over the beauty aisle, and they’re a finicky bunch. Their wandering eye is one of the reasons why companies and their products are now being tailor-made for those who want to test out the new, and are always watching out for the next big thing. And to reach those wandering eyes many in the industry are turning to Beautycon.
Beautycon was built for “the new generation of self-made content creators,” their audience, and the brands that want to work with both via sponsorships, product testing, and marketing. To form these relationships, the company started a YouTube creators’ tradeshow in 2011 that has grown to be a “Coachella meets Sephora” event in cities across the world. This year’s event in LA brought all those elements together, with online influencers, youth-targeted brands, and musical artists drawing in 15,000 attendees total—10,000 more than in 2014. Their engaging digital vertical and subscription box jam-packed with brand samples are other ways they’ve been able to expand their reach, and become what CEO Moj Mahdara has described as a “Vice Media for a 16-to-24-year-old girl.”
We recently talked to Mahdara on the current state of the beauty industry, the shopping behaviors of Millennials and Generation Z, and how she has found success with the group:
Ypulse: Tell us about Beautycon. How has it found so many young fans and grown so much?
Moj Mahdara: Beautycon is a community of different but like-minded individuals from all over the world who have come together to celebrate one thing—beauty! Our community is redefining beauty inside and out. We empower our audience by providing a space where everyone is valued and included, can talk about experiences and share. We own, celebrate, and share beauty with our community and the world.
It’s shifted from an’ affluence’ model to an ‘influence’ model. We found our fans and our fans have found us by our relationships with the creators they love. We listen to our community and use their input to be able to provide them with more IRL experiences and content of the creators they crave. Our community then shares who we are and what we do with their friends (peer-to-peer) and so on. In our eyes, everyone is a publisher, everyone can influence and everyone has a following. Whether you have 100 followers or 10 million, you have a voice.
YP: Beautycon Media has a focus on diversity—why do you think this is an important part of engaging young audiences?
MM: Diversity and inclusion are more than just our focus—it is what we stand for. We are opening up the conversation and doing our part to help raise awareness of stigmas and stereotypes. Our community appeals to everyone, no matter the gender, shape, race, religion, or ethnicity. We are all about loving yourself and your own unique identity. Our audience engages with us and other fans in the community because they have similar beliefs. The Gen Z generation is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet, and will be America’s last generation with a Caucasian majority. These young people don’t see color or gender, and are more accepting overall—one-fourth of them would throw out demographic labels altogether. I think that there are close to 58 gender preferences on Facebook now. It’s truly amazing.
YP: Tell us about the current state of the beauty market. What are the major trends young consumers are being drawn to? Do you think the industry is doing a good job at fulfilling their needs?
MM: The major trends right now are customization of product and creating organic relationships. The industry is very much realizing the importance of connecting with this younger, more savvy audience and are proactively creating content that reaches them and are partnering with brands such as Beautycon Media that help authenticate them. I believe the industry is seeing this change and they are working hard to adapt and to change the way they are marketing their products.
MM: They are shopping online more and more. I think we are seeing that by the lower amount of traffic at malls and the fact that the big brands are working very hard to create an online presence. Consumers are clicking through after they see a YouTube tutorial or when one of their friends post something on a social media platform. This is evident when you look at highly successful brands including Lime Crime and Glossier, who ONLY sell online and are producing revenues of $500M plus. One thing that is certain is that young consumers aren’t rushing to brick and mortar store locations as past generations were. Retail store visits fell from 35 billion in 2009 to 17 billion in 2013, and every day we hear of more store closures. The world is digital now, and digital technologies enable more efficient use of square feet, as well as more consumer buying outside the store.
But at the same time some reports are claiming that Gen Z and Millennials do want and enjoy going to a store, but more as an experience – music, interaction, etc. That is where we go back to creating an experience and engagement. I feel that physical stores need to be more inviting and creative to their approach to customers. This will definitely help attract the foot traffic.
YP: What comes next for your beauty empire?
MM: Bigger, more experiential festivals that will become more than one-day festivals. Beautycon Festivals are appealing because we create engaging experiences for the fans. Young consumers want to be able to see, touch and interact with their favorite products and people. We help create these meaningful IRL experiences that they can capture on their social platforms and share with their friends. Through the hundreds of top influencers on site that participate in meet ups, panel discussions, and brand activations to the top tier beauty, lifestyle, and CPG brands providing experiences on site, our community gets to experience the best of the beauty industry all in one spot. We’ve already seen more than 55,000 attendees, and we’d love to deepen that market.
We are also creating new content and expanding that as well. Our numbers are already astronomical; 33 million video views, 200,000 newsletter subs,
approximately 550,000 social followers, but we want to be able to reach anyone and everyone. Expanding our e-commerce platform is also high on the list.
Moj Mahdara, CEO of Beautycon Media, has built the company into a globally-recognized community for Gen Z and Millennial content creators, celebrities, fans, and brands, providing them with a space to come together and celebrate all things style and beauty.
Mahdara, an entrepreneur interested in staying ahead of the curve, has invested in several businesses —including Hello Giggles— and serves as an advisor to Warby Parker. Mahdara’s successes have been nationally recognized, being named in Cosmopolitan and Marie Clarie’s “Top Female” lists in 2015, as well as Fast Company’s “Most Creative People” list and The Hollywood Reporter’s “Top 25 Most Powerful Digital Players” in 2016.
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