On Saturday May 20, thousands of beauty lovers lined up outside of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal—the gigantic venue for Beautycon NYC 2017. With wristbands tightly secured and faces extravagantly dolled-up, throngs of eager attendees willed the doors to open as they stood chattering away with family and friends. Tangible excitement rapidly morphed into full-blown hysteria as the first group was granted entrance into the whimsical beauty world. Allowing waves of people into Beautycon only built the suspense; watching those ahead of them in line scurry through the doors was almost torturous. Upon entering, the youthful crowd was greeted by giant unicorns, electronic music, and funky lights—the first of many Instagrammable moments had descended upon them.
Key Components of Beautycon:
Elyssa Starkman, Beautycon Media’s head of content, recognized “real influence is about hysteria, and what we do is scale hysteria.” The genius of Beautycon was evident long before the doors opened and the first beauty-obsessed wave pushed their way in. The Beautycon website featured a real-time countdown until the big day, to the very second. Their downloadable app prepared attendees for the sensory journey they were about to embark on by outlining the schedule of events and influencer meetups. While in line, people were handed a list of the brands and a map of where the booths and influencers were located. This amped up anticipation for festivalgoers to plan their course of action and ensure all favorites were hit. The social media buzz across Beautycon’s Instagram was sprinkled with ads for the upcoming show; aesthetically pleasing images featured the wildly popular brands, products, and influencers that waited for them just beyond the doors. All of these aspects worked in conjunction to keep thousands of people enthusiastically (and at times impatiently) waiting in line for a festival that artfully united the digital and in-person world.
The targeted audiences are Gen Z and Millennials, digital-savvy and hyper-connected demographics that seek interactive brand experience. Focus on these next-gen consumers was a smart move on Beautycon’s part because Gen Z and Millennials combined comprise half of the US population, with Gen Z alone wielding $44 billion in spending power. And while these digital-natives love their iPhones, a study conducted by Harris highlighted that they value in-person experiences over things and are “increasingly spending time and money on them.” By linking a diverse global community of content creators, fans, and brands through social media platforms relevant to the target audience, Beautycon creates an “IRL [in real life] experience harnessing the culture of beauty.” It successfully merged the two worlds that these individuals inhabit: a digital beauty arena and experiential reality.
Beautycon cultivated an environment like no other. The featured brands were given free reign to create mini-immersive experiences to entice their consumers. From free manicures, to samples, to makeup services, the brands offered an interactive reality centered around human connection. Digital savvy beauty brands like Milk Makeup sought to rev up excitement among their fans, while mature brands such as L’Oréal and Revlon set up alongside them to achieve a halo effect. Their aim was to align with brands popular among millennials and Gen Z. Targeted signage throughout the festival expressed messages of inclusivity with sayings like, “You don’t need lipstick, lipstick needs you,” and “Makeup Has No Gender.” The overarching theme of inclusiveness created an environment where every aspect was an experience to be had.
Attendees were instantaneously engulfed by a highly sensory environment as they scuttled through the doors. Silver metallic streamers, floral backdrops, Millennial pink balloons, and rainbow unicorn paraphernalia covered the grounds and created the perfect milieu for photo ops. The brands at Beautycon fed consumers’ desire for Instagrammable moments to share with friends across social media platforms, with direct brand instruction to do so. Seamless incorporation of magical imagery acted as the perfect selfie backdrop for the multitude of vloggers who wished to share the experience on their YouTube channels and Instagram Stories.
Beautycon NYC 2017 blended every color of the rainbow (literally and figuratively) to represent the dynamic digital beauty industry. Countdown to #beautyconla: 80 Days, 11 Hours, 10 Minutes, 0 Seconds
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