When Leila Kashani Manshoory came up with the idea for her beauty brand Alleyoop two years ago, she had pre-pandemic problems that are now a thing of the past: She was constantly traveling for work, and the process of packing her beauty products was cumbersome.
“I lived out of a suitcase,” she said. “I had to get really efficient with my beauty routine.” She started creating makeshift travel makeup palettes, and the idea for her brand was born. It launched in 2019 with a focus on travel — 100% of Alleyoop products are TSA compliant, which was “really heavy in our messaging in the beginning,” she said.
When the pandemic hit last year, the brand shifted its messaging from “on the go” to “declutter.” Its influencer promos shifted from travel Instagrammers to minimalists, including “interior designers or Marie Kondo types,” said Manshoory. Now, Alleyoop is one of many beauty brands starting to cautiously tread back into travel-based marketing.
Pre-pandemic, the jet-setting life was a big part of many beauty brands’ marketing strategies. In addition to brands specifically focused on travel-friendly products, lavish destination influencer trips were commonplace. But that all changed due to Covid-19. Sponsored content from travel influencers dropped to 0.1% of total influencer marketing content on Instagram by mid-2020, according to influencer marketing software company CreatorIQ.
Now, data shows that with vaccination rates climbing, and hope of “independence from the pandemic” by July, some consumers are itching to travel again. In mid-March, the Transportation Security Administration [TSA] reported its busiest day since before the shutdowns last year. Brands are cautiously treading into travel-related content and product launches once again. German skin-care brand Bynacht released a new “Jet Lag Balm” in mid-April, and travel-oriented brands such as Wander Beauty are posting hopeful messages for consumers dreaming of going on vacation again.
“As more people get vaccinated and travel restrictions are lifted, we expect creators to be hungry to travel again. Brands need to start considering how to reinvigorate travel content and apply key learnings from 2020 to ensure that content remains authentic and relatable,” said Tim Sovay, COO of CreatorIQ.
U.K.-based sustainable capsule brand Bolt Beauty, for example, launched on the first day of the U.K.’s lockdown in March 2020. Due to the pandemic, it had to scrap a travel-influencer-focused campaign timed to the launch and doubled down on sustainability messaging. Now, it is pivoting to a new type of travel content.
“We feel like we can have great campaigns which demonstrate the travel-related elements of the brand, but without emphasizing travel in a traditional way,” said Lisa Sexton, founder of Bolt Beauty. “Road trips, visiting friends and family, and exploring your local area are much more likely this year. We would rather focus on these types of escapes, rather than risk focusing on traveling far away, which many still won’t be able to do.”
Alleyoop, meanwhile, started testing out travel-related Instagram ads on Sunday.
The new ads are “not so much on the return to travel,” said Manshoory. “Through this experience, we realized that we don’t need all the things that we have, and that being light is beneficial. And so [we’re focusing] on the things that will work for both at home and your upcoming travels.”
Brands are still testing the waters with travel content, due to “high levels of uncertainty that remain — particularly with international travel,” said Sexton.
Skin-care brand Masktini, which also offers a 100% TSA-compliant product lineup, is another brand inspired by the jet-set lifestyle. Travel is “the core of the brand’s DNA,” said its founder Olga Parno, who thought of the label after traveling frequently for her Wall Street job. The brand’s pre-pandemic messaging was heavily travel-oriented; it frequently featured model Laís Felisardo bringing the brand’s products with her on trips. When the pandemic hit, the brand shifted its messaging from travel to self-care. But Parno said Masktini is ready to focus on travel again.
“We’re starting to do it right now, because I feel that the audience is a lot more accepting of this message,” she said. “Everybody’s in the mood to travel, and what we’ve noticed is [they’re] looking for travel-friendly products.” She said the brand is planning more travel influencer campaigns showcasing the products in different countries.
“[With work travel in decline], we will probably start with leisure,” she said. ”A lot of people are planning to actually go someplace this summer and rest.”