Standing out in the eyes of the customer is tough in the online beauty world, as there are a handful of big players like L’Oreal Group, Estee Lauder, Sephora and Ulta Beauty that dominate the traditional channels—paid and organic search results—for customer acquisition.
That’s why startup web-only cosmetics merchant BeautyKind opted for a unique approach to garner attention from its target demographic, millennials, last fall when it orchestrated 14 pop-up style events at Southeastern Conference football games.
The merchant selected 14 colleges in that region largely because the women there tend to wear more makeup than in other regions, says co-founder and CEO Hil Davis. The retailer gave out free water bottles and $25 gift cards to BeautyKind.us to anyone who took a selfie at its booth and used the hashtag #beautykind on Instagram. Davis says roughly 18% of the people who received the gift card used it to purchase products. BeautyKind would give out anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 gift cards per event, which means it nabbed roughly 180 to 540 sales at each event.
Plus, the merchant garnered up to 1.5 million impressions on Instagram per event, he says. These types of efforts helped the merchant nurture the beginnings of a loyal following on the web.
BeautyKind donates 5% of sales to a charity of the shopper’s choice—a message that connects with millennials and can be the deciding factor when choosing where to purchase beauty products, Davis says. “Millennials realize that they are not making a lot of money, but their wallet matters. This younger generation is saying, ‘Hey, if you want my money, you have to believe in my ideals or I’ll shop elsewhere.’”
In March, BeautyKind expanded upon the success of its pop-events with a full-fledged concert it hosted with singer Demi Lovato and others in which 50% of the ticket sales went to the American Heart Association. Around 45,000 people attended the concert, and BeautyKind raised $2 million for the charity. The event helped to raise brand awareness for the retailer in the eyes of its potential customers and the bigger beauty brands.
“This has allowed us to increase the number of brands on our site, and there are many brands that we will be announcing over the next few months,” Davis says. “This has put us in a great position to launch dozens of brands and their charities this fall, which will raise a lot of money for these charities.”
Many of the largest charities that BeautyKind works with regularly link to their site in online posts and through social media, a plus for both the charity and the retailer since they both benefit from a sale. BeautyKind also maintains relationships with influencers in the beauty community, who post videos, blogs and Instagram photos of BeautyKind products.
BeautyKind does not publicly disclose its revenue, but Internet Retailer estimates it generated $5 million in online sales last year—up from $2 million in 2015.
More on BeautyKind and other fast-growing online beauty merchants will be available in Internet Retailer’s upcoming report, “Beauty & the Web: Where the Big Money Is,” due out next week.