Beauty events are roaring back. Getting it right isn’t so

Brands can be clever about investing in events that build new fans and potentially long-term loyalty, as people “often end up posting on an organic basis quite frequently,” says Alexandrides. She adds that it is better to keep events “personal and targeted”. The brand is shifting away from “really expensive” sponsorships of high-profile annual events such as the British Fashion Awards or the Amfar Gala and prefers to do 10 to 20 smaller, more tailored events “for the same price”.

Fashion Monitor’s Taylor agrees that events are becoming more intimate. A personal approach, such as one-to-one time with a founder, can be more engaging for editors and result in greater ROI versus a party where the crowd is oversaturated, she says. They are also a comfortable alternative for editors who may not be keen on large crowds after Covid.

This move towards smaller, more tailored activations is also being driven by the need to create more custom content than ever before. In addition to hosting a celebratory dinner for its new soothing cream and light cream in April, science-led skincare brand Augustinus Bader invited press for a personal one-to-one chat during the day with both the namesake founder and CEO Charles Rosier at the 180 Health Club in London. “We think about whether there’s a moment where editors can have a one-to-one with the brand. Everyone is so specific about the type of content that they want to write or produce; group sessions are not even an option anymore,” says Seen’s Walsh.

This preference for one-to-ones is emerging in both the UK and US, but brands need to keep in mind their audience, she adds. “The in-depth and individual experience drives a better-quality output as journalists and editors are able to secure unique content, quotes or information. On the other hand, group content creation moments are still performing strongly for influencers, provided the experience is well curated and designed with content in mind.”

Nevertheless, an experience-rich event may not be for every brand. To make this approach successful requires budget, access to the founders or key stakeholders, and something unique to say, argues Walsh. “We’re supportive of [skincare brand] Byoma hosting an event, for example, because they’re leading the conversation around oversaturated skin barriers; the founders are available and have tons of insight; and the brand is disruptive in how it looks and feels. It all comes together,” she explains. “If brands don’t have that, a personal note with the product and a strategic well-crafted pitch might be more effective.”

A minor reformulation or shade extension is no longer reason enough for an event, and simply being Instagrammable no longer cuts it, says Karla Otto’s Boyd. “A new market entry, the unveiling of an exciting collaboration or the strategic targeting of a new community” are among strong reasons for a brand to host an event, she believes. “The best beauty activations are the ones that have a purpose and impart a distinct brand message.”

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