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Brief Published: 14 Oct 2015

VIDEO: Cult Beauty

Up next in Fashion & Beauty, we explore how brands achieve cult status in an oversaturated beauty market. 

Whimsical US brand Benefit’s mascara They’re Real (which launched in 2011) is now the number one mascara in both the UK and the US, with one selling every 10 seconds. On the back of this success, in 2015 the brand launched another mascara, Rollerlash – which against all odds is now the second most popular mascara in these two markets. 

In a global market brimming with such products, this phenomenal success demonstrates how brands can generate hype and influence without big advertising budgets. According to Hannah Webley-Smith, the brand’s UK marketing director, Benefit does not advertise in the UK on principle. 

Elsewhere, celebrities and vloggers directly influence consumer spend. R&B star Rihanna launched small, independent US beauty brand Free Spirit into the spotlight after tagging its Purple Haze lipstick in a post on Instagram in June 2015. The product sold out within minutes and is still out of stock today. Shrewd brands such as Kiss Cosmetics from the UK have taken note and released their own versions of the product. Brands need to observe the right channels and the key influencers in their markets, and react swiftly to bankable trends.

Authenticity is another key takeaway. Consumers are turning away from sponsored and paid-for advertising in search of ‘realness’. Rihanna was not paid to promote Free Spirit’s lipstick, and it clearly aligns with the star’s urban-chic aesthetic.

For more on this and other insights into achieving cult status in the beauty market, see The Economy of Cult Beauty