Beyond the hype: How one company uses social media to create hit brands
The firm is best known for its brands Sand & Sky, Coco & Eve, SkinnyMint and BodyBoss, and sees social media as a treasure trove of ideas and inspiration to create new brands and products.
“We see opportunities in social media. We are all on social media every day learning about products and finding new exciting things. We look in this space to build brands and we try to find gaps in the market and interesting trends,” said Emily Hamilton, co-founder of Supernova.
The key to being successful in beauty, she believes, is creating unique and original products to stand out in the saturated social media space.
“The key to standing out is creating something new. We want to create things that don't exist, something that’s new and exciting. We do that by really trying to understand why the consumer would buy this?”
In the case of Sand & Sky, the company wanted to stand out in among the K-beauty dominated the landscape with Australian-made product.
“Consumers know Australia… so we capitalised on that to bring an Australian beauty product to the world. The mask itself was a really simple idea. We found this amazing ingredient (Australian pink clay) and thought it would be a great idea to put into a product,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton highlighted the mask’s light millennial pink colour helped it to stand out on social media as well.
“We always think about how our product will look on social media. One of our big strategies, which sounds very simple, is to see how the product will look on social media. So a lot of our products have an accessory to create a similar look.”
For instance, Sand & Sky’s Pore Refining Face Mask is sold with a brush applicator while Coco & Eve’s Like A Virgin Hair Masque comes with a hairbrush.
“This strategy is really important because it creates an iconic look on social media. It adds value to make you stand out on the market more. We definitely see our consumers talking about how much they love the brush applicators… You have to understand why consumers will buy your product and use it into a strategy to give yourself an edge.”
Getting smart with social media
The company does not just use social media as a marketing tool, it also uses it to gauge interest in its products.
With the help of Photoshop, the company makes mockups to test the response on social media.
“We do a lot of testing on social media so we can see what people are clicking on. That's the power of direct to consumer marketing and e-commerce. You can really measure everything. We even test ideas first without actually making a product. It’s much easier to Photoshop someone holding a product and measure the clicks,” said Hamilton.
She added that this allowed the company to be more creative and faster than others.
It also saves the company a lot of money and trouble, said Hamilton. “Buying products can cost you $50,000 or $100,000. Before you put that money down, you have to be sure the products will sell.”
Instead of using focus groups, the company also uses social media to test brand and product names, as well as price.
“All our brand names are chosen by our customers. Sand & Sky, for example, was originally called Rose Beach. but we couldn't get the URL… so we went to Sand and Sky, which was the second choice,” explained Hamilton.
She added: “A lot of companies use focus groups but this way consumer doesn’t know so they are part of a test and just instinctively click.”
However, being on social media leaves the company and its brands vulnerable to attacks from consumers.
“With social media, you are put out there and completely exposed. Coco & Eve polarising because it has silicones in it. The European market is more particular about it. But we have to choose what is right for us as a company and we chose to create products that are really effective.”
However, Hamilton added that it was still important to listen to consumers.
“When we launched SkinnyMint almost six years ago, ‘skinny’ was what people wanted to be but now there's a massive moment about being healthy and body positive. So the nature of the brand is really changing.”
This movement has also prompted the company to launch a new health and wellness based brand, which will have edible beauty products.
Sustaining the hype
Supernova’s social media savvy have made its brand viral sensations but it is also aware that the brands cannot run on hype alone.
To ensure the continuation of the brands, the company has branched out into the physical retail space with partners like Sephora, Ulta and CultBeauty.
“That’s the challenge with beauty, people still want to go to a store and touch it. [Brick-and-mortars] are still a big part of the beauty industry.”
Hamilton revealed that the company would be expanding Coco & Eve and Sand & Sky into India through Sephora by the third-quarter.