For those as unfamiliar as I was with Ipsy, it is a beauty subscription that for only ten dollars a month customers receive a monthly sampling of up to 5 to 6 beauty products. “So like Birchbox,” I asked proudly to show off my hip knowledge of retail to my Generation Z assistant.
At first, she gave a look of total disgust before quickly forcing a kind smile, “ya, except better.”
So I started digging, and I felt myself so inspired by this company’s success story that I couldn’t wait to share my findings and ask myself, as well as you my reader, “just how much will social media influence the minds, lives, and ideas of future generations?”
The Social Media Mindset
I reflected earlier this year on my more personal blog the evolvement that we as a society have undergone over the past decade. We are in an age where community is rapidly overpowering classic marketing. We crave connection, and our attention spans are rapidly depleting. Blogs must be short and YouTube, due to its visual nature, stands only second to Google as our search engine of choice.
So when you think of how far we have come, is it any surprise that an art school dropout that happens to be a YouTube Influencer would have pull enough to convince a CEO and top exec of two very successful companies to leave their successful careers and help her start a beauty subscription service? How about that said business would overpower the newly founded Harvard Graduate start-up supplying the exact same concept? Well, that’s exactly what happened.
Michelle Phan who already had a following of 8 million subscribers on her beauty YouTube channel decided to pair up with Funny or Die CEO, Marcelo Camberos, and top exec from Bare Escentuals, Jennifer Goldfarb, to start a movement that would change the hearts of teenage and early twenty-something Millennials to discover confidence through a more personalized style.
Being Current is Key
Birchbox had a genius new perspective on retail. They were a pioneer in what would be an explosive following of beauty subscription start-ups. But they were dated out of the gates with a website that did not even provide a mobile-friendly interface until they were six years in.
Birchbox’s advertisement success is found through their e-mail subscription, a communication form that is slowly fading to only be used by “extreme couponers”, office employees, and let’s get real, those in the 40+ club. The younger generation has found other forms of communication through popular interfaces such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facetime.
“So to really stand out, you have to be part of a community where people find that your content is genuine, innovative, and it’s pushing boundaries.”
Michelle Phan, You Tube Influencer & Co-Founder of Ipsy
Meanwhile, Ipsy placed nearly zero dollars into their marketing campaign, allowing Phan’s YouTube following to build their own influence with great content, and in turn driving higher subscription rates for Ipsy. It’s about the visual, it’s about what’s current, and most of all it’s about the community.
With all this in consideration, it is no wonder that Birchbox dominates that 35+ crowd, while Ipsy is drawing in subscribers from the ages of 18-24. The younger demographic led Ipsy to finally overpower Birchbox with what could be described as a viral spike in subscriptions in 2014. Because this age group is driven by their favorite YouTube Channels having this subscription is something that offers some tangible connection to their YouTube community. In 2004 it was a must to Spring Break in Can Cun to connect with your MTV generation; only it’s way easier to convince mom and dad to fork over ten bucks a month for lip gloss than to pay for an unaccompanied flight to Mexico.
Not only does this provide a connection, but the products themselves allow these adolescent adults an opportunity to experiment with their image in this time when defining themselves is so incredibly important. When I received my first Birchbox my first reaction was an overwhelmed “I don’t know what half of this stuff is and I don’t have the first clue in how to use it.” Meanwhile, this younger generation will receive the product and then have an entire YouTube world of information and tutorials. And what a difference that will make in their confidence not only today but for the rest of their lives.
What do you think? Do you think the future of social media is healthy or unhealthy? What are the steps we could take to make social media an even more positive influence in the future?
Do you use subscription boxes, who do you use?
Until Next Time Fanboys and Girls-