This week, I take a look at how Benefit Cosmetics aims to support female gamers. Additionally:
- Helen of Troy’s acquisition of Curlsmith
- RéVive’s ad experiment with Nextdoor
- The launch of Pat McGrath skin care
As the beauty industry’s interest in gaming intensifies with more product collaborations and activations and a generally heightened presence, brands are looking for stronger opportunities to flex their commitments.
On May 7, Benefit Cosmetics will kick off nine video gaming tournaments on gaming platform Rival which are set to run throughout 2022. A total prize pool for the nine competitions is $25,500. It’s the first beauty-brand-hosted tournament for women in gaming and is exclusively open to female-identifying participants. Three of the tournaments are in partnership with video game company Electronic Arts and center on 48 invited female participants playing the game Apex Legends. The other six games are an open invitation for amateurs and casual gamers, with the brand expecting 50-100 players. The tournaments are hosted in partnership with EA Sports, Rival Gaming and two gaming groups, Black Girl Gamers and The GameHers. The latter two are responsible for soliciting members of their communities to participate in the invite-only games.
The tournament series is an extension of Benefit’s Game Face program, which kicked off in 2020. The initiative is an ongoing influencer program for Twitch streamers to receive free products and appear on Benefit’s Twitch channel, among enjoying other perks. In 2021, Benefit created its own Twitch live-streaming channel, and hit as a dedicated space for live-streaming games in its San Francisco headquarters.
“Twitch livestreaming opened our eyes to [the fact] that the format lends to intimacy you don’t have with Instagram or even Tik Tok. It’s this constant dialogue you’re having with your fans as a streamer,” said Toto Haba, global svp of marketing and communications for Benefit Cosmetics.
Haba said the fact that gaming is a popular social activity for younger consumers is what prompted the brand to get involved. A Deloitte 2021 report on streaming and gaming, reported that 26% of Gen-Z respondents said playing video games was their No. 1 favorite entertainment activity, compared to 10% for millennials. With the tournament series, Haba and the Benefit team see the brand’s involvement as an opportunity to “move the needle” for female gamers and be more active beyond individual sponsorships.
Twitch is not the only gaming platform Benefit has involved itself with. Since 2020, Benefit has worked with gamers who stream exclusively on Facebook’s livestream gaming and YouTube gaming platforms. And in China, Benefit uses the video platform BiliBili. Benefit plans to cross-promote the tournament on its Instagram, TikTok and Twitter channels. Whoever wins the tournament will be asked to submit their best clips from the experience so Benefit can then repurpose them across social media.
Benefit has not directly translated its gaming efforts into an offline or product-centric sales opportunity, though other brands have. In January, nail polish brand OPI partnered with Xbox on a nail polish collection, while MAC Cosmetics sponsored TwitchCon in 2019. In 2021, it enlisted makeup artists to create four looks based on characters from Xbox games “Halo,” “Sea of Thieves” and “Psychonauts.”
“For kids, it would be completely natural to live in a virtual world, buy and shop, have their own universe and have birthday parties there,” Aïda Moudachirou-Rebois, svp and global CMO of MAC Cosmetics, said in a previous interview. “[Gaming] is a sweet spot for creativity, self-expression, and empowerment to be who you want and to build communities. This is what MAC stands for, and that’s why we’re interested in it.”
E.l.f. Cosmetics also formed its own dedicated Twitch channel in 2021, using digital activations on TikTok to announce the channel. And Charlotte Tilbury and NYX Professional Cosmetics sponsored Girlgamer Esports Festival and esports organization Dignitas, respectively, in 2021.
Deloitte noted in its 2022 digital media trend report that live in-game events present a unique opportunity for brands. Nearly 25% of U.S. gamers say they attended an in-game event in the last year, however, millennials and men represented the biggest demographics of attendees. Furthermore, 82% of those attending live in-game events also made a purchase because of the event: 65% purchased digital goods and 34% purchased physical merchandise, the report said.
But Benefit is predominately focused on community building. Haba said there are large opportunities for gaming collaborations, and the brand did create custom merch for the game Animal Crossing in 2020. Glossier, P&G-owned Venus shaving and Unilever-owned Tatcha also took to Animal Crossing in-game promotions in 2020. Animal Crossing was a notable pandemic hit in 2020, as the latest version of the game launched in April 2020 and brands saw the opportunity to insert themselves into a culturally relevant moment.
Haba conceded that the measurement tools to evaluate the brand’s success on Twitch and in the gaming space are relatively new, especially since livestream gaming platforms don’t measure engagement in the same way as Instagram or Facebook. What Benefit does look at is watch time, especially for its channel, as a means of interpreting levels of engagement. For the tournament, key performance indicators will focus on watch levels, as well as launch time.
Aside from hosting the upcoming tournament series, Benefit is aiming to show support for female gamers in more creative ways. Twitch users can pay to subscribe to streamers and access exclusive content and other perks. Subscriptions can also be purchased and gifted to another individual. With this in mind, Benefit has taken to buying subscriptions of Twitch streamers it has no official partnership with and allowing those streamers to hand them out to their own followers free of charge. Haba said it’s a way for Twitch streamers to grow their follower base, while still earning income, and acknowledge Benefit’s commitment to the gaming space.
“The more we are in this space, the more we’re learning what it means to support these creators and their careers. It’s these unique things outside of the makeup lens that we’re finding beneficial,” said Haba. “My big hope [for the tournament] is for the people participating and the people watching [to see that] there is a space for them to do this as a woman. They can love gaming and make a career out of it.”
Helen of Troy acquires Curlsmith
On Monday, Helen of Troy added hair-care line Curlsmith to its beauty portfolio which already includes DryBar, Revlon hot tools and Bed Head tools.
“We believe Curlsmith is an excellent fit with Helen of Troy, both strategically and financially,” Julien R. Mininberg, CEO of Helen of Troy, said in a written statement. “This transaction advances Helen of Troy’s strategy to invest in businesses that can accelerate profitable growth in categories where we can add value and leverage our scalable operating platform.”
The nine-figure deal is just the latest development in the buzzy curly and textured hair-care category. Other recent events include a swath of fundraising for textured hair brands including Mielle Organics, Nyalah’s Naturals and Curls, all in 2021. Legacy mass brands like Aussie and Old Spice have also expanded into textured hair since January 2022.
Notably, 5-year-old Curlsmith only announced a Series A fundraise in Jan. 2021, led by investment company BFG partners. Michal Berski, founder and CEO of Curlsmith and majority shareholder, has not yet revealed what he plans to do next.
RéVive experiments with Nextdoor ads
Between Dec. 2021 and January 2022, luxury skin-care brand RéVive ran a multi-channel brand awareness campaign, which included a new and experimental partner for targeted ads: Nextdoor.
Nextdoor is a hyperlocal social networking app designed for neighborhoods. It has 66 million users in more than 285,000 neighborhoods globally across 11 countries including the U.S., the U.K. and France. According to Elana Drell Szyfer, CEO of RéVive, 50% of the brand’s U.S. wholesale channel business is done in the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. RéVive’s winter advertising campaign consisted of wild postings, digital subway ads, geo-targeted advertising campaigns via direct mail and email, along with the Nextdoor app. Within the Nextdoor app, ads can also be customized with a local neighborhood name and store location. Ad placement was in the in-app main feed, to reach neighbors who turn to a summary of top posts, and in a section called “Finds,” Nextdoor’s local marketplace where users with high intent to buy often visit.
Drell Szyfer said 97% of the people who engaged with RéVive’s multi-pronged campaign were new to RéVive. Nextdoor was able to track overlap between those who saw the mobile ads and those who visited a local retail partner. According to Nextdoor, the app drove 92,000 incremental store visits to retailers including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Blue Mercury in December 2021 and January 2022 after users saw RéVive advertising.
“Nextdoor’s technology and specificity by zip code allowed us to advertise nationally, with a focus [across] 10 neighborhoods where we either have strong sales or are looking to cultivate new consumers. In both scenarios, growth in brand awareness was the goal,” Drell Szyfer said.
There are some limitations. Nextdoor could not track sales generated from those ads via in-store purchases. However, RéVive tracked in-app engagement with the ads. According to Nextdoor, citing data from Oracle-owned ad analytics firm Moat, RéVive’s DTC web traffic views were 29% above benchmark and its in-app views were 34% above benchmark. Across both web and in-app environments, RéVive had a total of four exposure hours for its campaign.
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