Beauty and fashion brands are stepping into content marketing game to build a deeper conversation with their tech-savvy audiences. Turns out that creative storytelling distributed through content hubs taps millennials way better than blatant selling, and here’s why.

 

How digital transforms the game for beauty and fashion brands

Physical interaction in cosmetics and fashion industry remains important even in at the booming stage of e-commerce, but when it comes to inspiration, customers no longer seek it in glossy magazines. They don’t crop out favorite makeup products or clothing items from pages to take with them to shopping, they just open Instagram app or a beauty/fashion blog. This leaves no choice for brands in these industries but expanding their online presence.

In a digital era customers are curious as never before, so there’s a strong need in compelling stories that provide relevant information, educate and entertain, according to a new report conducted by the Branded Content Marketing Association. 54% customers admitted that they will no longer shop from a brand that can’t deliver relevant content, so it obviously becomes crucial to a brand success to make relationships with its target audience.The hard part is adaptation to omnichannel marketing strategies, now that modern fashionistas use the diversity of digital platforms. This leads us to content hubs.

 

The truth about branded content hubs

Blogging remain one of the most popular tactics content marketers use along with social media. However, the use of blogs as a separate channel of lead generation isn’t really effective anymore. That’s why brands are jumping on the content hubs bandwagon and try mixing all kinds of content types within one single platform. It allows them to take under control all of their content marketing efforts and gives a space for experimenting, so they don’t hesitate to stretch their creative muscle. However, there’s a thin line between so called branded content and content brands.

How Fashion & Beauty Brands Build Content Hubs

 

Some fashion brands are still chasing ROI and instead of content marketing per se try rather blending commerce with content.Take for instance Tory Daily hub from America’s leading fashion designer Tory Burch or The Window, a storytelling hub by Barneys. Both of them feature all the brand’s happenings, current industry trends and highlight their lifestyle values. Their storytelling hubs are built within their main websites, so doses of content are mixed with points of sale.

The goal is still about getting the product or service out there and influencing a purchase decision. While their strategy is unconventional, it still seems to be labeled and business-based, because they don’t hesitate to use links referencing to their products and built articles around their offerings. All in all, they stopped relying on online advertising too much and entered content marketing game, but with the same old quick-hit approach.

 

How L’Oreal benefits from unbranded content hub FAB-Beauty

At first it seems rather odd: why brands need to launch unbranded hubs that have no tieback to products and services and showcase rivals with ease? How can they benefit from it? Let’s look at the examples to figure this out.

FAB-Beauty is a storytelling hub launched last year by French cosmetic giant L’Oreal. Under the name that perfectly describes what it stands for (Flair, Artistry and Beauty) it unites the most dedicated beauty lovers that keep abreast of every industry trend. FAB-Beauty is an incredibly refreshing alternative to blatant selling, which not only attracts influencers, but also supports and preserves brand’s heritage. “This is about neutrality, experience, and craft, not about a product destination we have other places to do that,” says Verhulst-Santos, president of the L’Oreal professional products division.

 

FAB-Beauty

 

With this unbranded content strategy they weren’t really reinventing the wheel. Fashion industry already had hub examples that lack of mentioning of a brand. Launched 6 years ago Nowness by Louis Vuitton proved that unbranded site can work better on goals of raising awareness and positioning as the industry leader. “Nowness is a place to go if you are into fashion and art, Louis Vuitton could be seen as a traditional prestige group, but this keeps it current and fresh, and embedded in a new creative class,” thinks Dan Williams, a planner at Leo Burnett’s luxury and lifestyle division.

Brands like these always say their customers to be their best versions of themselves and don’t be afraid to show who they are, but they need to be authentic as well. However, this doesn’t mean talking about the brand and making it look like a hero, rather “crafting messages through their own unique lens”, as Nicole Beckley, Marketing Director at Merlot Skin Care, points out. So, by showing that a brand understands its audience pain points and interests it can really establish itself in culture and win over trust and loyalty.

L’Oreal thinks of their hub as a place to experiment, so they don’t afraid to partner with other brands and people to create compelling stories. For instance, Clarins, Thalgo, La Prairie and many other mavens of the industry were showcased at FAB, and one the first stories about hairstyle secrets was written by famous Italian actress Claudia Cardinale.

We are still at the beginning of the adventure. For Fab, success is about having curated content that gradually brings in the audience and gets positive feedback,” says Verhulst-Santos.

Since last summer FAB continues to grow its audience. Today it has over 27 thousand followers on Facebook, nearly 7 thousand at Twitter and more than 3 thousand at Instagram from over 150 different countries. L’Oreal already increased their spendings on digital: 25% of their total marketing budget goes on online efforts. So, it seems like they continue to work on building digital dominance and generate better consumer engagement in the future.

Content marketing grabs all of the fashion and beauty marketers’ attention now. They’re slowly transferring from “buy now” advertising campaigns to thoughtful long-haul content strategies to raise brand awareness. While some fashion brands prefer blending content with commerce, others achieve success by building unbranded hubs. FAB-Beauty let L’Oreal show its authenticity and actually prove it’s a lifestyle brand that values audience’s trust and know its interests.

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