With more indie brands launching every day, a trade show called Unfiltered Experience is aiming to help them prep for wholesale expansion.
Unfiltered Experience will take place on July 26 and July 27 in Las Vegas, with the first day dedicated to professional meetings between brands and influencers and the second day designed for consumers. The show is billing itself as a more affordable Beautycon experience for brands. It is expected to feature 35 influencers and between 35 and 40 beauty brands, according to Daniela Ciocan, founder of Unfiltered Experience. It designed to help brands connect with influencers for partnerships, generate social media followers and gain brand awareness so they are prepared to talk to retail buyers.
“All [retailers] look at brands from a unique point of view, but they all want to see whether the brand fills a white space and where it’s showing up on Google search. And they want to see their social media engagement to see if it has legs and a consumer connection,” said Ciocan, who was previously marketing director for beauty trade show Cosmoprof North America. “[Unfiltered Experience] is about preparing them for a retail environment.”
The event is built around four themes that, Ciocan said, are shaping the beauty industry: socially responsible beauty, CBD beauty and wellness, personalized beauty, and diverse and inclusive beauty. These themes will change with every Unfiltered Experience event — more are set to play out in secondary markets like Las Vegas and Chicago every two to three months. Each will have, at most, 125 booths, compared to Cosmoprof’s over 1,400 brands and Beautycon’s 200 sponsoring brands.
Other beauty conferences have been rejiggering their strategies amid a literally and metaphorically crowded space. BeautyCon introduced a rotating Pop series in November 2018 and Ipsy is launching in 2019 activations that are smaller than its main Gen Beauty event. Most recently, Indie Beauty Expo eliminated its consumer-facing Shop Indie event because involved brands said it did not provide sufficient time to talk to consumers and also meet with buyers and influencers.
At Unfiltered Experience, brands can meet face-to-face with influencers like Alinna Khan (@makeupbyalinna, 2.3 million Instagram followers) and Nina Vargas (@ninabvargas, 150,000 followers) without interference. These influencers are unpaid but some are making money by hosting masterclasses — the event will host five masterclasses, with tickets to each selling for $50 to $175. In addition to one-on-one meetings with influencers, there will be presentations for brands focused on direct-to-consumer marketing and communications best practices.
While influencers have become a central part of online advertising, as well as trade shows and exhibitions, there is a dearth of opportunity to connect with them directly, said Ric Kostick, CEO of clean skin-care brand 100% Pure. Since 2016, 100% Pure, which expects to earn $30 million in sales in 2019, has been shifting its business strategy to focus more on influencer marketing. Currently, its influencer budget makes up less than 10% of its total marketing budget, but this will grow to 20% within the next 12 to 24 months, he said. He is counting on the event to generate partnerships but said won’t be able to gauge if it was a worthwhile investment until several months later.
The cost for brands to exhibit at Unfiltered starts at $2,000, while Cosmoprof North America costs between $5,052 and $16,500 for a single exhibition space, not including the cost for the props. Beautycon can cost brands between $5,000 to more than a million dollars, according to The New York Times. Tickets for attendees cost $35 for general admission and $75 for V.I.P., compared to Beautycon which starts at $45 for a one-day ticket and goes up to $1,500 for a two-day V.I.P pass.
To make participation more affordable for exhibiting brands, Unfiltered has partnered with a mixed-media artist to take on the responsibility of developing Instagrammable experiences for the second day.
“[Typically] the idea is that the onus is being put on the exhibitors to create the experience, and that’s an expensive proposition,” said Ciocan.
To promote this event, Unfiltered Experiences is running a digital media campaign, with geo-targeted ads on Instagram and Facebook. It’s also running a keyword search campaign and display ads. Unfiltered hired tech company Genies to create personalized avatars of influencers participating in the event for a campaign that launched on June 12 with influencers like Alinna Khan posting the avatars on their social media feeds.
For Jennifer Yen, founder of skin-care brand Purlisse and makeup brand Yensa Beauty, the motivation to participate in the event was tied to both its intimacy and its themes. The brand has scaled back from participating in other trade shows, like Cosmoprof Hong Kong, due to the expense and the stagnation with their programming, she said.
“We feel we need to move on to what’s next,” she said. “I love new concepts and ideas, so I was excited to support and be a part of this. You have to focus on building the new.”