It’s hard to believe it’s already been a month since we packed up our bags and headed to the Big Apple for an amazing three days at the Indie Beauty Expo. The expo kicked off with Connect Indie, a day full of seminars on everything from funding your business to PR and marketing tips. The following day was open to the public so beauty enthusiasts could come experience products, talk to brand reps and shop to their heart’s content. Day three was dedicated to buyers, press and industry professionals, like us. The expo went by like a whirlwind, leaving us with sore feet (heels were a bad idea) and some key takeaways to bring to our clients. Below are five of the biggest trends we took away from Indie Beauty New York.
1. Indie beauty is in
There’s a reason the Indie Beauty Expo has grown exponentially over the past five years – indie beauty is huge right now. Increasingly, we’re seeing a shift in consumer behavior away from big beauty brands, like Maybelline, L’Oréal and Cover Girl, toward smaller companies with unique stories and more ethical practices. Buyers are picking up on this trend as well. At the expo, we spotted major buyers making deals left and right with these smaller, primarily founder-owned companies. Going booth to booth, we asked people if they’d had any interest from buyers. Many had talked to industry titans such as Sephora, Target and big department stores. The excitement from owners and founders was palpable; it’s a great time to be in the beauty biz.
The next time you walk through a major store, look closely at the brands on the shelves. The big brands will still be there, but there will likely be a good selection of indie beauty brands on display as well.
2. Everyone loves a founder story
During Connect Indie there were a few press panels where journalists from big names like Allure gave us their treasured secrets and tips to get their attention – every PR person’s struggle.
The biggest theme from these panels in regard to grabbing attention and getting journalists to write a story on your brand was founder stories. Journalists are constantly looking for interesting and unique story angles. A unique and compelling story about how the founder started the business is a great way to get noticed. Another interesting thing to note: journalists are more likely to respond to your pitch and set up an interview if the pitch comes from the founder or CEO themselves.
We met with several brands that had incredible founder stories. One that really stuck with us was the story of Dana Jackson, founder of Beneath Your Mask. Dana started her all-natural, nontoxic line after she was diagnosed with a severe form of lupus. After her diagnosis, she began her life-changing journey towards health. She wanted to reduce her exposure to harmful chemicals and repair the damage done to her hair and nails; thus, Beneath Your Mask was born. Her transformation is incredible. Compelling, right? Hers is an excellent example of a story beauty journalists would love to cover. It’s inspiring and emotional, and getting the word out could benefit many others struggling with skin problems or chronic illness. Read Dana’s full story here.
3. Find a way to stand out
You are likely the 700th hand lotion company to attend IBE, so how are you going to differentiate yourself to grab the attention of that buyer, journalist or shopper? You have to find a way. The booths that garnered the most attention and traffic had some sort of “wow” factor that passersby couldn’t resist stopping to check out.
We helped our client, Source Vitál Apothecary, set up their booth, and let me tell you – it was spectacular. They transformed their small exhibiting space into a beautiful facial cocktail bar, complete with beakers and vials, string-up lights and plenty of product samples for attendees to experiment with. Of course, your product will make or break you, but presentation is everything.
4. The future is digital
If you have an Instagram account, you likely follow quite a few influencers who correspond to your particular interests. Influencers have large, loyal followings and as their name suggests, their opinions carry a lot of weight.
You can have a stellar product, but what does it matter if you aren’t getting the word out about it? Consumers are often looking for the next best thing, so how are you going to make sure your product is it? Digital influencers should be your go-to. Beauty bloggers, Instagrammers and YouTubers are constantly trying new products to review and share with their audience. Trust is critical in the beauty community. Once an influencer gains the trust of their audience, they go from simply having casual viewers to a loyal following who look to them for sound advice.
By getting your product into the hands of a single digital influencer, you gain not only their support should they love your product, but the attention of their following as well. Don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful, well-put-together PR package in the right hands.
5. Invest in the right PR team
A common piece of advice we heard during the sessions and panels at Connect Indie was to spend the time and money to develop your brand and get your name out there. Because indie beauty companies are typically small, foundational elements of the business like determining product sales, distribution, packaging costs and shipping, typically take precedence. It’s easy to put efforts like PR and marketing on the backburner when you’re doing everything yourself.
That’s where working with an agency comes in handy. When you’re working with a PR and marketing team you trust, you can breathe easier knowing you and your brand are in good hands. Whether you need help developing your brand story or simply need to get your name out there, outsourcing those efforts will leave you with the time you need to fully focus on your business and everything that goes along with creating amazing products.