In recent years, a raft of premium and luxury beauty brands set their marketing sights on the millennial generation. As global powerhouses, these brands have years of heritage behind them and had the challenge of capturing the attention of Gen Z consumer.

As members of their target Millennial market, we’ve noticed the recent shift of traditional brands breaking their digital silence and factoring us into their future plans. In an attempt to remain relevant, brands are targeting younger generations by rolling out brand makeovers, innovating their products and reworking their tone of voice for the social media audience.

The rapid pace of social media has handed power to the blogosphere — where influencers reign supreme and single handedly shape the purchasing power of a new generation and the ways in which products are discovered.

There has been an influx of beauty brands using digital brand ambassadors to resonate with this hard to reach audience and this week we’re looking at the strategic approach for attracting millennials through brand storytelling, brand ambassadors and product innovation, whilst learning from those who have already done so.


Estée Lauder: Estée Edit

The company founded in 1946 has carried out one of the most innovative millennial makeovers we’ve seen. The path to modernise their marketing and communicate with this fickle audience is not without due thanks to their employee ‘Retail Immersion Days.’ These entertain elements of mystery shopping to immersive stores such as Apple, in order to ascertain what works in brick and mortar innovation.

The brand places key importance on their ‘Millennial Advisory Board’, that was created in order to keep abreast of the fast paced trends and forecasting of the next big thing within social. Opting to handpick their younger employees to instruct and lead the way in best practice on social media, some 300 duos were selected in 2016 to experiment with the brands social channels.

The millennial offering of alternative products for the younger generation coined, ‘The Estée Edit’ showcases a new direction of branding that works intrinsically across social. In addition, the brand selected Gen-Z’s poster girl and model of the moment Kendall Jenner as their brand ambassador, to launch the initiative last year in London. They continue to work with key beauty influencers to celebrate and communicate the ethos of The Estée Edit.

This premise of creating a ‘younger sister’ business model, is a blu-print for older brands looking to avoid mixed messaging across markets, whilst retaining their heritage and loyal customers. Alongside their product innovation, Estée Lauder continues to innovate on social with it’s most recent release, a series of social media how to make up videos. They’re definitely one to watch this year.



Founded in 1935, the Lancôme target market was firmly footed in targeting women in their 40’s, however the brand has sought to expand their target demographic and capture the younger consumer. It could be said that Lancôme was slightly unsure how to approach this as they diluted the appearance of Julia Roberts with their new ‘ambassadress’ Lily Collins. It’s one thing opting for a youthful representative but brands must be sure not neglect their existing audience. It may have been better to use the younger face online, rather than their OOH campaigns, like they did with actress Lupita Nyong’o. After receiving an Oscar for her role in 12 years a slave, the actress seemed to embody Lancôme’s vision of young women.

Currently, their social channels are appropriately garnished with influencer collaborations that enhance their perfume and makeup offering. We just can’t help but wonder what their above the line strategy might be as it doesn’t seem to correlate with their social intentions. Content consistency is key and there are ways to target both ages on through two different mediums.



When legendary fashion house Chanel mapped out their millennial plans they effectively selected popular names to walk their runway and appear at their events. Karl Lagerfeld used content and technology to engage with customers, concerning its culture, values and identity.

Chanel’s seriously exquisite high-production content, endless YouTube videos and organic potential, beat competition from other fashion houses attempting a similar approach on social media.

The 105-year-old brand has legitimate heritage when it comes to storytelling — a stunning history to bring to life. The legacy of the company’s late founder Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is documented on their channels through engaging and exciting content, without compromising their reputation for luxury.

In 2015, the brand hosted a much anticipated exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery, ‘Mademoiselle Privé’, a journey through the origins of Chanel’s creations capturing the charismatic personality and irreverent spirit of Mademoiselle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. The immersive experience spread across three floors, bought to life the Chanel story with the Chanel’s Head of Fashion, Bruno Pavlovsky noting, “this exhibition was imagined digitally from the beginning. It is completely intertwined. This is not about content with digital support, it is about imagining the two together from the start.” The exhibition opened a new channel of communication with the younger generation in an approachable and friendly tone, than what they have traditionally used.

In addition, the company managed to achieve high engagement with the development of interactive microsites and social profiles, but it also invites younger faces such as Lily Rose Depp and Keira Knightley to front their perfume campaigns. The models do seem to be getting younger, further pulling in the youthful crowds.



Another brand playing in the millennial space is Clarins and with this, like Estée Lauder, comes product innovation. Clarins broke their social silence with a new range of creams targeted at the older millennials who begin to get wrinkles. This strategy is presumably based on a valuable insight into the millennial attitude to vanity. Clarins created the campaign ‘Worth The Wrinkle’ to entice those wrinkle free youths to combat the possibility of lines on their face.

The notion that wrinkles should be celebrated is promoted by focusing on the moments in a woman’s life that are ‘responsible’ for them — from conquering a fear to having a baby. This is a positive spin on ageing and sparks interest in the younger market who begin to develop them.


It seems that the wise strategy move for beauty marketers is to embrace the fast pace of the millennial generation. We like to blink, share, laugh and forget all that we see on social media. A consistent omnichannel strategy will ensure that we’re exposed to marketing on all platforms so you don’t miss out on an opportunity to capture our attention.

Capsule collections and one-off product seem to appeal more to cash-conscious consumers. Cheaper alternatives are attractive to what is usually deemed unattainable from the younger generation.

Strengthen your social content by headhunting an in-house editorial style team. This will enable you to draw on insight into millennial habits and interests. Brands who publish their own beauty content can effectively become the voice of the industry. Hire your target market to come in and show you what Gen-Z like to consume.

Beauty trends have a long life span, try to establish what the latest brow, lip or eye craze is before it’s begun and own that conversation online.

When working on influencer strategy, don’t aim for maximum reach but instead make sure you select them based on a genuine talent. Their audiences are more likely to be engaged and believe a product recommendation.

Finally, the rise in ‘disappearing media’ (on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram), proves it’s worth relaxing about the quality of content you’re posting. The standards of premium and luxury branding do not necessarily have to be translated onto these platforms, so make it fun and avoid wasting time on quality control checks and just get the content out there before it’s too late!