This week, we looked at the beauty brands that are starting to experiment with Discord, as well as recent beauty news including John Demsey’s ouster from ELC and the rise of “Euphoria” actors as beauty’s most coveted brand ambassadors.
As it becomes clear that Discord isn’t just for gamers anymore, beauty brands are getting on board.
Once a haven solely for the gaming community, Discord has attracted communities around a wide range of topics. According to the company, 78% of active Discord users say they use the platform for non-gaming topics, or use it equally for gaming and other purposes. Among those being discussed on its voice, video and chat features is beauty, with communities dedicated to everything from e-girl makeup to nails. And some beauty brands have begun to operate their own fan communities. So far, groups are small, but organic–the privately owned platform currently has no advertising.
“Discord has already massively evolved since 2015-2016 to not just be a place where gamers congregate, but more so where anyone can hang out and form community,” said Amber Atherton, head of strategic communities at Discord. “A lot of these communities are organically congregating here, like beauty fandoms.”
A wide range of beauty groups have sprung up on Discord around specific beauty niches. Reddit group spinoff Asian Beauty, for example, includes members sharing their favorite K-beauty and J-beauty products, while Nails Galore centers on nail art. Members are small in number but active. Asian Beauty, for example, has 1.4 million Reddit members, while its connected Discord server only has 1,771 members. This is large, by Discord standards, however — 95% of Discord servers have fewer than 100 people.
Beauty influencers are also becoming active on the platform: Bailey Sarian, Bretman Rock and Mai Pham all run their own Discord groups.
“There are an array of subculture beauty communities that are thriving on Discord,” said Atherton.
As consumer brands in categories including fashion have discovered marketing opportunities on Discord, some beauty labels have started their own channels.
Gen Z-oriented acne patch brand Starface, for example, launched its official Discord server in early 2021, promoting it on the brand’s Instagram account and linking to it from its site. Moderated by employees, the roughly 480-member server is used by the brand to share product launch news, answer customer questions and conduct product giveaways. In addition to skin care, it created channels for users to discuss mental health, astrology, memes and music, among other topics.
“Very few platforms allow for members to directly and genuinely interact in that manner,” said Kara Brothers, president and general manager at Starface. “We see Discord as a great community-building tool. It allows for a level of intimacy and ‘face-to-face’ time with our customers that a brand wouldn’t typically have on a more public-facing platform.”
Brands have been eyeing Discord as its audience has ballooned during the pandemic. With over 150 million monthly active users and 19 million active servers per week, the platform is popular with Gen Z. According to Discord, it has 68% brand awareness among 18- to 24-year-olds. As it has become more mainstream, it has also worked since 2017 to kick off hate speech groups that were known for gathering there.
It’s not just indie startups getting into Discord. NARS has also been active with its own channel on the platform. In addition to chat channels, brand announcements and special emojis, NARS has promoted educational content on the platform. In September 2021, it used Discord to promote its 10-week “Masters in Complexion” course, linking to livestreams across YouTube, its brand site and Instagram. In a Discord channel for the event, it invited users to show off photos of their work in the chat.
An educational focus helps build on the ways people are already using the platform, said Atherton.
“That is a native behavior that happens on Discord,” she said, pointing to the many tutorial-oriented servers for topics ranging from learning new languages to Photoshop. “When brands tap into native behavior, even if it’s not in their vertical, it works really well,” she said.
Brands that don’t have an official presence on Discord are still being discussed the platform. Sephora shoppers, for example, have created an unofficial Sephora fan group to share product recommendations and news on deals. Atherton said one successful brand strategy has been to partner with existing organic groups. Netflix, for example, collaborates with fan groups of various shows to host Q&As and events.
The team at Discord sees a bigger role for the platform among beauty brands in the future.
“Beauty brands that value community should have a strategy for Discord,” said Atherton. “Other social media platforms should exist alongside it, given that their [focus] is aesthetic imagery. Discord, on the other hand, is much more about conversation and community.”
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In other news
Estée Lauder Companies ousts executive following racist Instagram post. After first being called out by industry watchdog account Estée Laundry, executive group president John Demsey has been informed that he must leave the company over a meme posted to his Instagram account with a racial slur and joke about Covid-19.
Demsey issued a public apology on his Instagram account on Friday, stating that it was a “horrible mistake of carelessly reposting a racist meme without reading it beforehand.” He was suspended without pay last week, and today, ELC announced on its website that his departure is effective this week. It is reported that he is retiring.
While making $9.6 million as one of ELC’s top executives, in between overseeing a portfolio including MAC Cosmetics and Clinqiue, 65-year-old Demsey found time to frequently post memes to his 73,000 Instagram followers. He has a total of 51,000 posts, according to the Wall Street Journal report on his suspension. They include “memes poking fun at heiresses, celebrity women who date younger men and poorly applied eyeliner.”
The meme also mentioned the rapper Chingy, causing “Chingy” to become a trending topic on Twitter following media reports of Demsey’s departure.
“[You need] a combination of great product with authentic storytelling and brand uniqueness — these things define the value system and unique DNA of what a brand is about,” he said on the Glossy Beauty Podcast in 2019.
“Euphoria” stars are taking over beauty. While we won’t share any spoilers from the weekend’s finale, it’s safe to say that Fez is becoming a beauty star off-screen. Actor Angus Cloud, who plays him, became the latest celebrity to land a beauty sponsorship deal as the new face of Polo Ralph Lauren fragrance. He’s the latest star of the show to gain a major fragrance detail — Jacob Elordi, the actor playing attractive psychopath Nate Jacobs, previously starred in an ad for BOSS Perfumes.
This follows the announcements in February that Barbie Ferreira would be YSL Beauty’s brand ambassador and the show’s lead makeup artist, Donni Davy, is launching her own beauty line. Chloe Cherry, meanwhile, has done social media posts for Starface. The show’s main two stars work with some of the world’s biggest brands–Hunter Schafer is the face of Shiseido, while Zendaya continues her ambassadorship with Lancôme. Storm Reid has been an ambassador for Maybelline and Dark & Lovely, while Alexa Demie has starred in MAC ads. We’re keeping our eye out for what’s next in beauty for Sydney Sweeney and Maude Apatow.
Revolution Beauty buys BH Cosmetics out of bankruptcy. The brand filed for bankruptcy in January this year.