Every brand wants to go viral on TikTok, but very few are ready for what happens next. Virality is simply the first domino to fall, setting off a massive chain reaction of supply chain and inventory issues, retail distribution hurdles, delays due to tied-up funding, and the difficult task of keeping hordes of customers engaged until your sold-out product comes back on the shelves.
It’s also impossible to predict when or if a product will go viral. Smaller brands are at an even bigger disadvantage since they tend to have longer lead times for product development and production. When fragrance brand Phlur relaunched in early 2022 with influencer and entrepreneur Chriselle Lim at the helm, the brand’s first fragrance caught on like wildfire on TikTok, selling out in five hours and leaving a waitlist of more than 200,000 empty-handed for months until the fragrance came back in stock. The frenzied demand for the product no doubt helped the new brand land in stores at Sephora, Selfridges, and Anthropologie, even amidst the mild controversy over the product’s name, Missing Person, which some said was insensitive to victims of heinous crimes. Phlur’s swift success is both the blueprint and a cautionary tale for brands who hope to harness the social selling power of TikTok to drive purchasing and reach new audiences without incurring significant delays in customers receiving their product.
In the event that your brand goes viral, you’ll want to be prepared for what happens next. BeautyMatter talked to seven beauty brands about their viral moment, its ripple effects, and how they each turned virality into sustainable success. From small start-ups to major international players, here’s how these beauty brands managed their 60 seconds of TikTok fame.
Key Stats: Glow Recipe saw a +600 percent spike in daily sales on the brand’s DTC site. Site sales for that week rivaled that of Cyber Week, with 84 percent of sales driven by new customers to the brand. The viral video has brought continued momentum, as Glow Recipe’s Dewy Duos have sold out four times since February 2021 and have seen over a 40 percent increase in DTC sales from February 2021 to date. This spike in sales was seen across all global retail partners, including Sephora, Mecca, and Cult Beauty, resulting in an overall halo effect across the full brand assortment, with new customers wanting to try the products they saw all over TikTok.
How Glow Recipe prepares for increased demand: “Our Watermelon Niacinamide Dew Drops sold out 17 times globally in 2021 and we had to ensure we would not have future sellouts once we had production under control,” Glow Recipe co-founders Sarah Lee and Christine Chang tell BeautyMatter. “We quickly evaluated inventory levels of all products, not just our Dewy Duo, in partnership with our retailer partners. We also worked closely with our vendors to secure raw materials and build up safety stock to meet our new demand.”
“To better meet the interest and demand of customers, Glow Recipe created a special site kit offering the Watermelon Toner and Dew Drops duo at a value price, which became one of the brand’s top converting kits.”
How Glow Recipe capitalized on the brand’s viral moment: “The team combed through comments on the original viral posts and were able to identify previously untapped influencers who expressed interest in the brand and products. We wanted to surprise and delight these new-to-Glow influencers by proactively reaching out and having products they were commenting on show up on their doorsteps just a few days later. As a result, we saw hundreds of organic stitches and duets of the original content on Tik Tok as influencers and customers tried the duo on their own skin. On the site, we featured the new term “Dewy Duo” in our navigation and constantly optimized search terms based on what we saw happening on TikTok, so customers could easily find what they were seeing on social media.”
How to convert customers after you sell out: “Our focus was also on retaining the influx of new customers we saw and converting them to brand loyalists. We developed a long-tail post-purchase series for new TikTok customers that spoke specifically to the virality of Dewy Duo, and introduced them to our Fruit Babies kit, a trial-size kit of core best-sellers, as a way to cross-sell them into other best-sellers. We wanted to ensure we were educating them on how to use our products, what to use with them, and what to expect. But more importantly, we wanted to start building a relationship with these new customers to ensure we retain them long term.”
What types of content go viral: “Routine tutorials, behind-the-scenes into our inspiration, formulation, and content creation processes, and content that showcases product results are some of the examples of what drove higher engagement and virality for us. Ultimately, our approachable and relatable storytelling coupled with serious results resonated with the TikTok audience.”
Product: The Mascara
Viral Moment: The Mascara’s popularity can’t be attributed to a single video. The term “Jones road mascara” has 43.5MM views on TikTok, with Bobbi Brown’s own video announcing the product was back in stock garnering 7.8MM views.
Key Stats: 10,000 people on the waitlist.
Biggest Hurdle: “Inventory was the main issue,” Cody Plofker, CMO at Jones Road, tells BeautyMatter. “Our product and supply chain teams had to scramble to move things around. It wasn't easy, and we were definitely out of stock of a lot of items, but it was a good problem to have.”
How the brand kept up the momentum: “For those on the waitlist, we communicated to them when we estimated we’d be back in stock and then, we just kept marketing other products. The demand sustained itself, and even when we relaunched it, we were quickly out of stock again. Perhaps not great for logistics, but the out-of-stocks did help build demand.”
Biggest Lesson: “You can't plan to go viral, but it can boost sales significantly. We're grateful for it and it took us to a new level of growth. It did come with some logistics challenges that took us the better part of a year to work through, but we learned a lot and we're definitely better off for it now.”
Viral Moments: A viral video featuring the Targeted Wrinkle Corrector with @edwardzo (2MM followers) garnered 2.5MM views in March 2022. Later that year, Deep Relief Acne Treatment launched, and a viral video by @lalaluvbeauty (160K followers) in August garnered over 3MM views.
Key Stats: Targeted Wrinkle Corrector sold out on both Murad.com and Sephora.com. Deep Relief Acne Treatment experienced a 1,000+ percent increase in sales across Sephora, Ulta, and other various US-based retailers. Additionally, Deep Relief sold out within days of the viral video on Amazon. Targeted Wrinkle Corrector and Deep Relief Acne Treatment became the brand’s top-selling SKUs and have remained there since the videos launched. Murad also had a waitlist with thousands of sign-ups when the products went out of stock. The Targeted Wrinkle Corrector has 17.2MM views on TikTok, and Deep Relief has 21.3MM views.
How the brand deals with supply chain challenges: “Going viral is a good problem to have, but when that happens, supply chain becomes an issue,” Paul Schiraldi, CEO of Murad, tells BeautyMatter. “Since we can’t plan for virality, we can’t have a contingency plan of back stock. We forecast for product based on past success for the specific collection, and when a product goes viral, we see sell-out (again, a good problem to have), but then consumers have to wait while we fill and package more components. We do our best to make the restocks as quick as possible, and it’s something we’re continuing to improve.”
Biggest Lesson: “One lesson is figuring out our preparations from an inventory POV when launches resonate well with our audience. Another lesson is acting with agility with the influencers who post the organic video(s) for usage rights across our platforms.”
Product: Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask
Viral Moment: Multiple; the term “k18” has 415.6MM views on TikTok.
How K18 prepares for increased demand: “We let our wholesale partners know before we do a big campaign or if we get a viral post, so they can build their inventory,” K18’s CMO Michelle Miller tells BeautyMatter. “If they run low, we work to expedite and prioritize their shipments. They are our right hands and we want to make sure they have what they need.”
“We do our best to manage inventory so that we don’t go out of stock—we know how frustrating it is to learn about a product and not be able to try it immediately. We keep safety stock, especially of raw materials and components with long lead times, to help us be more nimble and respond to demand fluctuations.”
Biggest lesson: “Get ahead of it,” says Miller. “One out-of-stock is OK—but constantly trying and being unable to get product is really frustrating. Build up more than enough supply before you “re-open” to your customers. Learn from your experience. Stay humble and consider why your product took off. What was it about your messaging, the product, and your community that allowed that perfect storm? Going viral once doesn’t guarantee it’ll happen again. How can you sustain your growth?”
Product: Slam Dunk Hydrating Moisturizer
Viral Moment: A viral video from TikTok user @k80lynneee compared Bubble’s Slam Dunk Hydrating Moisturizer to Drunk Elephant’s Protini Moisturizer, garnering over 30,000 views. Another video by @swaggyjillian calls it “the best moisturizer in the world,” and has over 40,000 views.
Key Stats: Sales jumped 300 percent across Walmart, 300 percent in Ulta, 400 percent in CVS, and 700 percent in DTC from the week of 12/26 to the week of 1/2. Bubble sold a Slam Dunk Moisturizer every 30 seconds the week of Jan 2. Since going viral on TikTok, Bubble sold through 70 percent of all inventory/stock on Slam Dunk across Ulta in one week (January 2–6), and sales of Slam Dunk at CVS were over 800 percent since launching with the retailer in August. #bubblemoisturizer has 2.1MM views on TikTok.
Why going viral isn’t always an opportunity to cross-sell: “What we saw a lot of people doing though, since Slam Dunk may be sold out in their area, is buying Level Up which is a very different product and meant for a very different skin type,” Bubble founder Shai Eisenman tells BeautyMatter. “We've been working with all our suppliers to ensure that we supply Slam Dunk replenishments as soon as possible and to also make sure we're replying to every comment online letting our customers know where they can purchase Slam Dunk and provide education on the two different products.”
“We're continually working very closely with our partners to ensure that they are receiving replenishments, as a majority of in-stores are low on product, but we are available online, which has been able to provide a really nice buffer with our consumers.”
Biggest Lesson: “We've learned to always be prepared and ensure the customer is our top priority. Nothing is more important to us than our community, so we want to ensure that they are getting the products they need in a timely manner and that they are communicating with us at the highest level. We've pivoted to our priorities and approach internally to ensure that we can communicate at the highest level with our community and to ensure that they know we are here for them always.”
Product: Blot & Blur Matte Stick
Viral Moment: A video by @Glamzilla showing how the product blurs pores garnered 1.2MM views.
How Nudestix prepares for increased demand: “The product did not sell out online, but rather did have a much higher rate of conversion than originally forecasted based on the product’s virality and adoption rate at time of launch,” Taryn Segell, Nudestix Brand Marketing and Communications Director, tells BeautyMatter. “Our teams worked quickly to ensure we stayed in stock for our owned platform, Nudestix.com, but we did have a delay in shipping out to some of our third-party retailers due to the increased demand that we saw practically overnight, so while some retailer locations may have been out of stock for a moment in time, customers were still able to purchase the product through our website during the retail restocking period. Our operations team planned accordingly once new stock landed, that orders could leave our facility as early as the following days to ensure no issues in getting stores restocked.”
“Once the product went viral, we worked through our owned and organic social media, PR, influencer community, paid advertising, and digital marketing channels to continue the momentum. Since we were not sold out, we were able to continue driving buzz and keeping our community interested through ongoing content and marketing touchpoints.”
Biggest Lesson: “You can’t always predict, create, or recreate virality. Brands and teams need to be nimble enough to pivot plans toward a product that has gone viral and have the agility to capitalize on the moment. While we can certainly look at the elements that created this perfect storm and hope for several of our products to experience the same trajectory, we have to listen to our community and ensure we’re giving them the products and marketing messaging that they’re looking for.”
Product: Nudiversal Lip Duo
Viral Moment: A viral TikTok from beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira reviewing the CTZN Cosmetics line of nude lipsticks, which is a stitch of fellow beauty influencer Erin Dugan Jurchak’s original video raving about the line, calling it the “perfect nude lip combo for every skin tone.”
Key Stats: Sales on CTZN Cosmetic’s website increased by 12,348.3 percent, causing the website to crash. This spike in sales made the month that this viral moment happened (October 2021) the brand’s highest month of sales to date.
Biggest hurdle to overcome: “Our viral moment literally made our website crash, and there were moments when users could not load the page!” Aleezeh Khan, co-founder at CTZN Cosmetics, told BeautyMatter. “We saw comments on Mikayla Nogueira's viral post mentioning that this was a challenge being faced by customers excited to find their nude match. At the time, we were worried customers were not going to have the same smooth user experience they would have had on a normal day. Also, as a start-up, every minute our website is not functioning affects our sales, and every sale makes a difference at that point. So we immediately got in touch with our tech team to see how this could be resolved and thankfully got ourselves up and running again shortly.”
Biggest lesson: “Not to ignore TikTok as a platform!” says Khan. “This was the first time we really saw the potential of Tiktok’s influence and how it is so different to any other platform. Customers appreciate its authenticity and transparency. We are now very focused on influencer marketing and are implementing a strategy focused on communicating the solution that CTZN provides for all beauty lovers who have never been able to find their perfect shade match (especially with nude lipsticks!).”
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