Chanel is realizing that today’s beauty fiends have no patience for the inaccessible world of luxury. Instead, they value having direct connections to their favorite brands, and not simply via e-commerce; social channels and more-intimate customer service models are crucial, too.
As such, Chanel has rolled out two new Instagram accounts catering specifically to beauty consumers and is expanding its distribution with public-facing pop-ups and a move into Ulta.
In January, it debuted a separate Instagram account for its beauty collection, with @Chanel.Beauty as the chosen handle. Said to be helmed by the brand’s global creative makeup artist and color designer, Lucia Pica, the account shares her inspirations and makeup tips, plus new product news and video clips of Chanel ambassadors like Kristen Stewart and Lily-Rose Depp. During fashion week, behind-the-scenes makeup tutorials were also common.
“There are whole generations of people going to social first — in many instances, Instagram — to engage with beauty brands,” said Toni Box, group director of social and content at marketing company PMX Agency.
This increasingly includes the luxury consumer: A recent study by PMX found that luxury-specific Instagram users grew by 54 percent between 2016 and 2017.
“Instagram is a place where luxury can actually preserve the traditional allure and status of the brand, while staying deeply connected with the consumer,” said Box.
While progressive for the luxury space, the highly-curated account is still a far cry from the social media presence of younger brands like Glossier and ColourPop, which thrive off of user-generated content. It’s follower count (308,000) pales in comparison to those brands’ millions.
Perhaps to solve for this, Chanel rolled out its more community-driven @WeLoveCoco account in February. Described as “a community of beauty enthusiasts and insiders who love Chanel,” the account features only user-generated content: a mix of makeup face charts, video tutorials, pretty selfies and product shots. Celebrity shots — like a behind-the-scenes look at new Chanel Beauty face Margot Robbie — are strewn in via their makeup artists.
“It’s about accessibility, but it’s also about being much more in tune with their audience about the types of experiences they want — that’s what creating a luxury experience is all about,” said Box. “Tapping into the passion of their community, and empowering their creativity, is absolutely vital to Chanel’s relevance as a brand.”
To further prove this new angle to its community, Chanel is supporting its online efforts with fresher distribution models, as well.
A four-day pop-up, dubbed the Chanel Beauty House, was held in Los Angeles to fete the launch of @WeLoveCoco. Though it had a celebrity-packed launch party, it was open to the public. Alongside selling 50 Chanel Beauty products, the house was kitted out for social media appeal, with elaborate rooms designed for selfies, Boomerangs and video clips, and buzzy tech elements like a virtual lipstick try-on mirror.
More surprising was the news that the brand will be rolling into Ulta — arguably the buzziest beauty retailer right now. A specially-designed Chanel section featuring an edited assortment of lipstick, blush, foundation and skin care will hit select stores, beginning with Ulta’s Westport, Connecticut location.
While Ulta has been making headway in prestige, it still sells a significant mix of mass products, making Chanel’s move a notable break from its other channels: Chanel Beauty stores and top-tier department stores like Barneys.
Lynn Tesoro, the CEO and co-founder of HL Group who has advised various luxury brands, believes this is a very smart move: “What’s interesting is that they are not changing price or packaging, but simply expanding their distribution to where the new consumer is shopping.”