In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, beauty brands became an integral part of the social and political conversation across social media. Without endorsing a particular party or candidate, companies such as Elizabeth Arden and Sephora, as well as indies such as Westman Atelier and Tower 28 Beauty, encouraged their online communities to get involved in the political process by exercising their right to vote. In a time of demanded transparency and little separation between a company’s bottom line and its public perception, these efforts carry much social weight. A 2018 study conducted by global communications and marketing firm, Edelman, found that consumers across eight global markets, including the U.S., believe that brands have a greater ability to enact social change than the government does.

Beyond social media postings, and the sharing of voter registration resources, some brands took their advocacy efforts even further this election season. They partnered with non-partisan non-profit civic and voter advocacy organizations such as When We All Vote and I am a voter on coordinated messaging and special edition products.

The Lip Bar featured former First Lady Michelle Obama wearing their best-selling matte liquid lipstick shade Bawse Lady in a September 10th Instagram post announcing their partnership with When We All Vote. The indie cosmetics brand created a limited-edition run of 500 lipsticks rechristened Bawse Voter which sold out within minutes of the posting, says Founder & CEO Melissa Butler.  About 40 percent of the purchase price ($13) for each lipstick sold was donated back to the Obama co-chaired organization which aims to close the race gap amongst voters, and increase registration.



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When asked why beauty brands should be political advocates, Melissa said, “Well, I think it’s important to tell your customers who you are and what you believe. Today’s customers expect it! They want to know that they are shopping products and brands that are in alignment with their needs. If a brand sees that its customer base is hurting, in order to maintain deep resonance with the customer, you must bring their experiences into your communication with your audience – whether it’s political or not.”

Iris&Romeo saw their partnership with I am a voter as a natural extension of the female empowerment messaging that lies at the core of its brand DNA. “Our partnership with I am a voter was about empowering women to raise their voices and participate in the social conversation. We stand on the backs of these brave courageous women who began the feminist movement. We wanted to celebrate them and celebrate the powerful force women are,” said Founder & CEO, Michele Gough Baril.

The clean color brand created a special edition shade of their Power Peptide Lip Balm in Fuchsia as a nod to the early suffragists who wore red lipstick as a sign of rebellion. “We chose a fuchsia lip balm as an evolution on the red lipstick. It honors ALL the women who walked before us,” said Michele. They’ve sold through their original projections on the $26 lip balm since mid-October, and continue to sell now, with $5 of each purchase donated back to I am a voter. “I don’t think you can remain totally neutral anymore. We live in a new business environment that is all about transparency. Consumers want to know where you stand on issues that are important to them. They want to buy from brands that believe in the same things as they do. They have a direct line to you on social media and if you don’t speak about it, they’ll ask you, and silence is saying something,” said Michele.


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Versed chose to partner with I am a voter this election season because their beliefs on democracy, community, and civic duty aligned. “I am a voter and Versed share the view that our democracy works best when everyone participates so we jumped at the opportunity to work together and do our part to make sure that everyone who has the right to vote, actually exercises that right this year. We feel that whatever someone’s politics, our democracy is at its best when more people make their voices heard,” said Director of Marketing, Mia Zee. The digitally incubated sister skin care brand to Who What Wear created a limited-edition headband duo that had their online community excited and engaged. “Thank you. I see your voice and appreciate you taking a stance,” said one commenter on Instagram. The $10 duo went on sale in early October with 15 percent of the purchase price for each pack sold donated back to I am a voter.


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Mia explained that Versed, and other consciously-minded beauty brands, are powerfully positioned to engage a large volume of potential voters through their unique platforms. “Beauty brands are powerfully connected to their audiences and reach a large percentage of the US population particularly in key demographic groups that traditionally have lower turnout. There is a huge opportunity for us as an industry to have an impact. While our efforts make up only a small part of the movement to increase voter turnout, Versed and the influencer community we work with, has a monthly reach of over a billion people. If we can help raise the awareness around voting of even 0.01% of those people, we can be proud of the effort we’ve made to use our brand as a force for good in this world.”

Kosas’ Founder and CEO, Sheena Yaitanes, has been a supporter and collaborator of I am a voter since before the 2016 election. “They’re creating a cultural shift in the political environment, and it was clear to us that this year, we needed to be involved and use our influence as a brand. We have a platform to share information and in this case, it felt important to use it in this way to encourage engagement in the voting process,” Sheena said.


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For this election season, the rapidly expanding clean cosmetics brand created limited edition VOTE stickers that were mailed out with every order made on starting in early October. Sheena confirmed that they completely sold through the few thousand stickers that were created. “It’s becoming more and more common for consumers to want to align and support brands that share similar values. Our goal is to always remain as authentic as possible and share our POV with our audience, especially as it relates to these big, culturally relevant moments we feel strongly about,” Sheena added.