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Brief Published: 26 May 2017

#Gen Me: Beautycon NYC 2017

Billed as Coachella-meets-Sephora, the sold-out Beautycon NYC trade show attracted 9,000+ beauty fans to Brooklyn (May 20). Offering free samples, discounted products and social-media influencer attendance, the show is extremely valuable for youth-focused brands looking to build engagement and buzz. We highlight the product trends, influencers and sociopolitical thinking driving this young consumer spend.

Beautycon NYC, 2017

Empowerment & Inclusivity

Offering a beauty-box subscription service and digital content in addition to the trade show, Beautycon outlines its mission as “challenging traditional beauty standards and redefining what beauty means.” The festivals (also in LA and London) bring this ethos to life for consumers who consider make-up a key tool for self-expression, transformation and creativity (see Teen-Targeted Beauty).

  • Positivity Reigns: The Beautycon mantra, “You don’t need lipstick, lipstick needs you”, decorated signs and branded merchandise. Brands followed suit: Australian label Zuii Organic promoted its show presence on Facebook with the message “encourage girls to be radical and love their bodies.” Plus-size model Tess Holliday also moderated a panel on body positivity. See Millennial Beauty: Advocating Realness.
  • Broadly Diverse: The Beautycon brand makes a point of broad inclusivity. Transgender YouTube star Gigi Gorgeous created an installation of chalkboard unicorns that visitors could write on. A sign explained that “Gigi owns what makes her unique” and asked, “What makes you unique?” Brands also showcased diverse influencers, such as male beauty blogger Thomas Halbert. See Gender-Fluid Generation.
  • Pop Politics: Beautycon extended its empowerment ethos to activism, reflecting politics’ crossover into pop culture. One panel paired American teen star Chloe Lukasiak with three organisers of the Women’s March – each introduced with a burst of glitter. Teen Vogue’s editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth also led a panel on beauty and activism.
Beautycon Socks
Tess Holliday
Thomas Halbert Meet-n-Greet promotional poster

Generation #Me: Consumer Focus

While influencers typically draw the hysterical crowds at Beautycon, shrewd brands instead endeavoured to put attendees in the Instagram spotlight, acknowledging this generation’s lean towards narcissistic self-curation.

  • Pose & Post: Posers were drawn to branded backdrops and set-ups such as Revlon’s street art-style mural, which promoted its new Street Chic lip collection and helped the brand in its mission to appeal to a younger audience. Some brands offered free samples or prizes to those who tagged their resulting social media posts, such as bath and body brand Soap & Glory’s pink motorcycle and sidecar photo opportunity. For an irresistibly shareable clip, L’Oreal filmed visitors walking on a flower-bedecked treadmill while swinging branded shopping bags.
  • Casting Calls: American actress Drew Barrymore’s natural make-up brand Flower Beauty promoted its new biannual magazine Flower Press, offering attendees the chance to feature on the cover. Dynamic US brand Milk had its studio photographers shoot portraits of visitors wearing its make-up for the chance to appear in a future #LiveYourLook campaign. “To be in a space like this, applying make-up to people, talking to our customer – that, to me, is the best marketing,” co-founder Zanna Roberts Rassi told The Business of Fashion.
Revlon backdrop
Soap & Glory photo station
L'Oréal video treadmill
Flower Girl casting
Milk casting

Mining Unicorn Mania

  • Teen make-up brand Wet n Wild’s limited-edition Unicorn Glow set was met with mega enthusiasm – it sold out online within days. It included a highlighting brush with a horn-like handle, rainbow highlighters, loose pigments and prismatic lip colours. For more on unicorn trends, including Starbuck’s #UnicornFrappuccino, see The Food Content Boom.
Wet n Wild Unicorn Glow collection
Wet n Wild Unicorn Glow collection

Indie Brand Spotlight

Mass-market brands like Nyx and Rimmel dominated attention and floor space, but Beautycon also showcased indie start-ups and unique new products.

  • Super Natural: New York-based indie brand Feather & Bone distributed its Face Gems – individually packaged tablets made with Ayurvedic ingredients that dissolve with water into a paste-like face wash. Two-year-old San Diego brand Kopari touted itself as the first natural and organic coconut-based brand. Its skin and body products launched in February 2017 in Scouted by Sephora – the niche section of the retailer’s US stores. Its flagship product Melt is a multitasker for skin, lips, hair and nails.
  • Shaded Shampoo: New Dallas-based dry shampoo brand Stranded showcased its loose powder product. Available in three colours, it suits blonde, brunette and red hair.  
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