Clamor for Glamour

cassyp    July 3, 2017

Traditional marketing isn’t what it used to be.  Most people are no longer as susceptible to, or trusting of what they’re being sold.  According to a recent study, 84% of Millenials do not trust or like traditional advertising.  Yet, everywhere you look, almost any and every little available space tends to be plastered with an advertisement of some kind.   So how do you break through this resistance and connect with your target market in an authentic and lasting way?  Ipsy has found a way.

Ipsy is a personalized makeup subscription service available online that sends users monthly bags filled with different and personalized cosmetic products.  Here’s more about what it is and how it started:

“Michelle Phan has inspired countless women around the world through her beauty video tutorials on YouTube. Every day, the question Michelle gets asked the most is: “What are the right products for me?”  With infinite beauty product combinations in the marketplace, choosing the best items for your needs can be a challenge! That was why Michelle created ipsy. Michelle and her team of stylists have selected products they love, for you to try.  Each month, subscribers will receive a beautiful Glam Bag with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products. Members can watch and play along with the stylists with the same products that they are using.” 

With the advent of social media, marketers are no longer bound to knowing which publications their customers read, which television shows their customers watch, or which venues and locations their customers visit.  Now, their target market can follow THEM, choosing to receive and engage with a variety of marketing strategies.   With over 4.7 million Facebook followers, 2.1 million Instagram followers and 612k followers on Twitter, Ipsy has amassed quite a following of devout fans on social media.   So how does Ipsy use social media and marketing together to advertise and grow their business?  A quick glance at their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can reveal quite a few ways.

Cause marketing:  Cause Marketing is finding a cause that both you and your target market care about and engaging them with content that supports that cause.  Ipsy has done a fantastic job of knowing which causes are important to its customer base.  LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, self-acceptance – they regularly post inspirational and supportive content that helps to build a strong bond between the business and their customers as well as connecting their products with these causes.   This makes the brand feel very personal to those who are passionate about the causes Ipsy also supports.

Relationship Marketing:  Relationships Marketing is the approach of focusing on building relationships with your customer base rather than exclusively trying to sell them something.  When a customer loves your brand, they will be more likely to purchase your product over a competitor’s.   Ipsy’s social media team is regularly engaging with customers to assist them with any issues, offer them words of support, as well as sharing and crediting their customers’ content.   Ipsy uses social media to let their customers know that they are not just selling them product and forgetting them, but rather they are actively making an effort to meet their wants and needs beyond simply buying a product.

Undercover Marketing:  Uncover Marketing is a strategy that involves hiding portions of your products and services’ best selling points.  Ipsy’s monthly bag is kept hidden for the most part – dropping little hints here and there to generate a buzz.  Once the bags are sent out, tons of subscribers post the reveal of what they received in their Ipsy bag on social media, creating an even bigger buzz.  Creating a little mystery is easily achieved on social media as its easy for your customers to share their curiosity and excitement.

Scarcity marketing:  Scarcity marketing is the idea of making your product or service only available to a certain number of people.  Whether done purposely or simply by virtue of limited resources, Ipsy has a waiting list.  This makes people who are receiving the product feel special, and it also makes the pending subscription that much more exciting for those who are on the waiting list.  As the saying goes, “people want what they can’t have.”

Content Marketing:  Content Marketing involves generating and sharing content via various platforms that customers find valuable and worthwhile without making a direct sales pitch.  If a business is consistently selling without offering anything else to their customers, it undermines trust – people begin to feel like said business is too single-minded in their pursuit of profit to care about anything else.   This gives the impression that the business might be without a moral compass, without business ethics, without regard for quality, or might lack anything else that customers would consider important despite not necessarily directly supporting the company’s bottom line.  Ipsy uses social media to regularly share funny, relatable, educational, and inspirational posts across its platforms that let customers know that Ipsy cares about them beyond just a sale.  Sometimes their products are included in these posts, sometimes they’re not.

As illustrated above, social media offers an infinite number of new ways to revisit tried and true marketing strategies, tailoring them to an ever changing advertising landscape and customizing them to fit your company’s brand story.  Ipsy has done a truly excellent job of capitalizing on such an important and valuable venue by taking traditional marketing strategies, infusing them with their brand identity, and applying those strategies to various social media streams where their customers can easily and regularly engage with their product.

Lessons for Others

Try not to throw the baby out with the bath water.  There are quite a few traditional marketing strategies that still can be effective if done in a way that offers customers more than just selling a product.  Sean Foster, CEO of a marketing platform called Crowdtap says Consumers today want a different relationship from what they are getting right now from many brands, because social media has changed and continues to change everything” .  Try to find which marketing strategies are best suited to your brand identity and find ways to build online relationships with your customers first.  Once they value your presence and content, they’ll be more apt to trust that your brand is more than just a gimmick.

Organization: Ipsy
Industry: Online Retail
Name of Organization Contact: Michelle Phan, CEO

Authored by: Cassyp

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


  1.  The McCarthy Group.  2014 February. “Millenials Survey”  Retrieved 2017 July 2.