In today’s ever-changing social media landscape, beauty marketing strategies need to pivot at the speed of light. The sheer bulk of Instagram-induced sales can’t be ignored, nor can the value of a legitimate influencer with a mega-engaged social media following. A lavish press trip chock-full of Instagram-friendly beach backdrops has proven effective, as well. Here, a few beauty brands who are changing the game in the race for mass Millennial appeal.


Tarte has abandoned print sampling, events and press trips, for the most part, opting instead to focus its public relations budget on social media influencers boasting 100K+ followings. The cosmetics company flew 20 YouTubers and Instagrammers to Kauai, Hawaii, where they ziplined over the lush, green foliage of the Garden Isle and were privy to a constant flow of #content. Promotional trips are typically organized around a major product launch, but keep in mind the influencers usually receive everything else the brand makes too, so there’s ample opportunity for future inclusion in videos and photos. The brand also recently launched its #kissandmakeup campaign, where it encouraged fans to kiss their hands, cover their mouths and take a selfie to take a stand against cyber bullying.

First Aid Beauty
Boston-based First Aid Beauty has always focused on quality skin care products formulated in partnership with dermatologist Dr. Bobby Buka to ensure results even for the most sensitive skin. While the brand’s packaging was well designed and photographed, it exploded in popularity even more once it expanded into gorgeously packaged makeup (more definitive before-and-after pics ensued). The makeup follows the Glossier model of no-makeup makeup in a capsule-sized collection of offerings ranging from a moisturizer tint spiked with SPF; lip and cheek sticks; and a color-correcting cushion compact. Plus, the brand’s skin-refreshing spray was infused with vital greens for a “clean-beauty” spin, while its latest moisturizer boasts coconut and priming properties, another page from the Glossier playbook, which includes a best-selling priming moisturizer and a coconut-infused lip balm. The edited selection of makeup and new skin care offerings is very much in line with what their targeted consumer is purchasing.

While its packaging is less photogenic in the traditional, Generation Y-focused sense, Maybelline is ahead of the game in other important ways. In January 2017, Maybelline made headlines when it debuted its partnership with beauty boy Manny Gutierrez, its first male ambassador. With three million Instagram followers, the influencer creates tutorials on YouTube, as well. He was the face of the brand’s “That Boss Life” campaign promoting Maybelline Big Shot Mascara, along with another famed beauty blogger, Shayla Mitchell, and sweepstakes winner Jackie Flowers.

L’Oréal Paris

The French-based beauty brand has broken down its Instagram feeds by category: skincare; hair care; makeup. The photography is stunning and well lit, featuring looks and flat lays from aspiring influencers and more established players. Last year, L’Oréal Paris introduced a range of colorful masks with infinite Instagram potential, playing into the visual aspect of skin care typically lacking, so as to up the viral potential. The brand also introduced its ambassador program in 2016, The L’Oréal League, which includes 15 influencers. According to published reports, the brand paid between $40,000 and $100,000 for the year to tap into the engagement of the group’s millions of followers, as opposed to focusing on on-off sponsored post partnerships. Most recently, its upcoming collaboration with Balmain of 17 couture-inspired matte lipstick shades is sure to be a social-media sensation.

Estée Lauder
After shuttering its sister brand, The Estée Edit, which focused on a younger demographic, Estée Lauder decided to freshen up its ambassador reach. The beauty behemoth has partnered with reality star and model Kendall Jenner and influencer extraordinaire, Irene Kim, in addition to pioneering its own editorial in the form of a brand-focused blog on their site called Estée Stories. Now, Estée Lauder has shifted gears to partner with French makeup artist and beauty consultant, Violette. The brand has also incorporated more Instagram-friendly hues infused with sparkle.

An early adopter of a minimalistic, photo-friendly aesthetic, Philosophy upped its younger demographic outreach by partnering with veritable-Deepak-Chopra-for-the-Generation-Y-set, Gabrielle Bernstein. The beauty brand officially made the “spirit junkie” their wellness ambassador in a synergistic partnership that included events and blog posts, all incorporating the new age ambassador’s tips and tricks. It helps that she’s a skin-care scion, as well. The brand also launched a powerful campaign for Mental Health Awareness Month called “How Are You Really?” Mental health conditions affect 20% of the population, and this campaign is focused on changing the conversation about depression, encouraging openness and honesty to encourage acceptance while changing the mental-health stigma narrative.

Chanel Beauty
The brand that didn’t play well with hashtags and non-photography embargoes recently changed its ways. Earlier this summer, the famed fashion house partnered with women’s networking/work space/social club, The Wing, to offer manicures and subtle, Chanel-appropriate nail art created by nail-art influencer and Millennial herself, Madeline Poole. The Wing was founded by Audrey Gelman, the Millennial after whom the character Marnie Michaels on “Girls” was based.