Looking at my Facebook news feed, pushing their way in next to my friends and family are the brands that I also share special relationship with. Often you will find that they are the brands you don’t mind being associated with, the brands that have satisfied us so much that were willing to share it publically with our friends. The explosion in social media has given the opportunity to reach consumers directly, create brand personality and strengthen brand loyalty. In the past, marketers have utilized various means of maintaining brand loyalty (Kotler and Keller, 2007; Keller, 2008) so why should this be any different for social media and what does this mean for the world of cosmetics…
Well, let’s first of all, look at why we interact with them. Mintel Oxygen recently created a report (Social Media: Beauty and Personal Care, 2012) showing that internet users (aged 16+) who liked a beauty brand wanted their friends to know they liked it as the main reason for doing so. This creates a massive social spin on branding, showing that actually people do it so that friends can not only know you like the brand but associate you with it also. In actual fact almost four in ten of us Brits have interacted with beauty and personal care brands online according to Mintel, this equates to a huge 15 million people. Alexandra Richmond, Senior Social Media and Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel explains that people use social media as a means to share thoughts, which illustrates the power of word of mouth. She also goes on to say that the internet plays a key role in influencing other people’s purchases, while at the same time providing the brand with valuable feedback.
Mintel argues another reason for our interaction with beauty social media sites is down to our ‘voucher culture’, where it was found that 33% of internet users interacted with beauty brands to take advantage of special offers (2012). Additional research by Mangold and Foulds, 2009 suggests that consumers go to social media sites to keep up with a brands products and promotional campaigns.
So what does this mean for the beauty brands?
Well, Erdoğmuş and Çiçek (2012) found that social media can have a positive effect on brand loyalty when a number of conditions are satisfied. To achieve this positive result, brands must offer advantageous campaigns, offer relevant content, offer popular content, and appear on various platforms including applications.
Mangold and Frauds (2009) state that social media is the new hybrid element of the promotional mix because ‘in a traditional sense it enables companies to talk to their customers, while in a non-traditional sense it enables customers to talk directly to one another. Therefore it can be argued to be the most radial form of communicating to the customer.
Stelzner (2011) briefly notes that there are many benefits of using social media marketing in the ‘Social media marketing industry report’ including new business partnerships, improves search ratings and improved sales.
Mintel (2012) explains how social media gives opportunity to raise the awareness of brands finding that the most talked about brands were Vaseline, Chanel and Boots accounting for one in four (23%) mentions online between Nov 2011 and Jan 2012.
Increased sales, loyalty and awareness as a result of social media marketing in the beauty industry makes me ask ‘why the hell wouldn’t you go online?’ Well, it turns out that there can also be negative repercussions for such freedom of expression amongst consumers and this has also been noted in research (Ward and Ostrom, 2006). These new channels of communication allow for people to openly express dissatisfaction which can leave negative influence on existing and potential customers similar to that already experienced by the cinema brand, Odeon. This kind of dissatisfaction has led some 25% of beauty brand enthusiasts to unfriend or unlike a brand on Facebook (Mintel, 2012). One person now has the ability to influence hundreds of close friends and family’s buying behaviour with one bad experience which, to me seems quite dramatic.
What do you think about the boom in social media marketing and the impact it can have on a beauty brands customers’?