Luxury fashion house Gucci is leaning into the beauty category.
On Monday, the brand launched the @guccibeauty Instagram account, curated by creative director Alessandro Michele, which is dedicated to Gucci’s in-house cosmetics and fragrances.
At launch, the social media platform did not focus on product images, makeup looks or even beauty how-to tutorials, but, rather, artworks sourced from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A private collector’s painting of Elizabeth I makes appearances, as does a 1950 portrait from American artist Lois Mailou Jones.
After teasing content over the weekend, the account had already shared 27 in-feed posts with likes topping 1,000 by mid-Monday. The follower count for the page has nearly 5,500 fans, whereas Gucci’s main page has 27.9 million. A cross-promoted Gucci Beauty announcement post on the brand’s primary account on Monday had nearly 50,000 likes, proving the potential of the separate beauty account.
Playing up its beauty content is a smart strategy explained Valerie Nguyen, partner and co-head of strategy at Wolf & Wilhelmine, a brand strategy consultancy firm. “All brands are cognizant of a changing of the generational guard, and beauty products are an accessible entry point to strike up a relationship with younger consumers with less disposable income,” she said.
Gucci has previously tested the waters with beauty-related Instagram content as recently as May, with Michele’s first fragrance, Gucci Bloom Acqua Di Fiori. This spring, Michele tapped 15 female artists including Langley Fox Hemingway and Joana Avillez to design illustrations for the brand, which were then promoted on the social media platform. Engagement for those series of posts on Gucci’s main page were as high as 408,000 likes. Parent company Kering even called out the “positive sales trend” for the fragrance in its July 26 first-half results, but noted that the scent didn’t offset the “contraction in sales for the brand’s older lines” in the perfume and cosmetics category.
With its beauty-dedicated account, Gucci is following in the footsteps of other fashion brands interested in expanding their beauty footprint. According to Instagram, there are 200 million beauty fans globally on the platform (those that follow a beauty or makeup account), which accounts for 25 percent of Instagram’s global community.
In February, Chanel launched its user generated community account @welovecoco on the heels of its more traditional product page @chanelbeauty, which debuted in January. Chanel’s @welovecoco account features celebrities like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and designers like TyLynn Nguyen wearing and promoting its makeup and products in real life — it has only 87,300 followers, while Chanel Beauty’s main account has 966,000 followers. @Welovecoco does have the potential to tap into the burgeoning mindfulness or wellness movement, though, said Nguyen. “Luxury brands can tap into the rise of intimate self-care,” she said. “The pampering and treating yourself aspects are taken up a notch with luxury products.”
Following the launch of both Instagram accounts, Chanel hosted its first four-day Chanel Beauty House, an experiential pop-up, in Los Angeles, which served as grounds for influencers to attend and post content. It was a way to leverage its tangential offline experience into online exposure.
Fellow Kering brand Yves Saint Laurent is another luxury fashion brand that has doubled down on its beauty content via social media. In September, the brand opened a two-day beauty pop-up called the Beauty Hotel in New York to support its @yslbeauty Instagram account. The New York experiential event was a follow-up to its a successful Paris pop-up, which generated 2,000 posts, 1.4 million engagements and 160 million in reach on social media, according to Women’s Wear Daily.
The @yslbeauty page has 4.6 million followers (almost as many as YSL’s main page with 4.8 million fans) and the YSL Beauty Hotel hashtag now has over 6,500 posts. YSL Beauty has also leaned heavily into IGTV for the platform’s video launch, partnering with Instagram to do a series of “Dare or Dare” episodes with global beauty director Tom Pecheux. While YSL Beauty’s IGTV series started with around 18,000 views in June, a recent campaign video with Adam Levine for its Y Eau de Parfum garnered around 20,500 views.
The trajectories for YSL and Chanel’s beauty businesses demonstrate the opportunity for Gucci to follow similar footsteps down the line. On September 24, Gucci will showcase its spring 2019 runway show at Paris Fashion Week. The launch of the @guccibeauty account, days before the brand’s runway show, seems timely as there is a plethora of content to be made that focuses on behind-the-scenes backstage beauty.