In every industry there are always some iconic personalities who revolutionize the whole industry from what it is to what it is to be. The beauty industry is no stranger to this phenomenon. With different beauty marketing strategies, innovative product designs, and cause-focused campaigns, these marketing geniuses did something remarkable throughout the history of the beauty industry.
This list mentions the 10 most influential people responsible for creating a change in the beauty industry with their beauty marketing strategies.
1. Martha Matilda Harper: The Women Who Introduced the Franchising System
She was born in 1857 in Canada. Started out as a servant girl at the age of seven to later became the founder of Harper Hair Salon. How? After acquiring a secret hair tonic formula from a doctor she was working with. She moved to the United States and opened her first Salon.
She was the pioneer in the retail franchising system in the history of beauty industry. By the 1920s, she had had over 500 Harper Salons worldwide, run by thousands of empowered women entrepreneurs.
2. Coco Chanel: The Women Who Modernized Women’s Clothing (Product Innovation)
Coco Chanel was a French fashion designer and businesswoman who founded the Chanel brand. She was the only fashion designer listed on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
Born in 1883 and raised by nuns in an orphanage, she had a difficult childhood. After learning to sew and becoming a milliner, she opened her first shop in Paris in 1910, selling hats and accessories.
She soon expanded to clothing, creating a new style that was simple, elegant, and comfortable. Changing the historical standards of beauty industry, she liberated women from the restrictive corsets and frills and introduced sporty, casual chic as the feminine standard of style. She also created iconic products such as the Chanel suit, the quilted purse, the little black dress, and the Chanel No. 5 perfume.
3. Estée Lauder: A Passionate Woman Who Glorified Beauty Marketing (Freebie Marketing)
Estée Lauder was a visionary entrepreneur who revolutionized the beauty industry. Born in New York in 1908, she had a passion for cosmetics since she was a young girl. She learned the art of making skin creams from her uncle, who was a chemist.
Being a go-getter, she started selling her products door-to-door and at beauty salons, using her charm and persistence to win over customers.
Later, in 1946, She founded her own company, Estée Lauder Cosmetics, with her husband, Joseph. Through innovative beauty marketing strategies, such as giving free samples and gifts with purchases, she created a loyal customer base.
A huge customer base gave her financial support to expand her product line to include makeup, fragrance, and hair care. And then, she launched her famous Youth Dew perfume in 1953, which became a best-seller and a signature scent for millions of women.
Throughout her life, she built a global empire that included prestigious brands such as Clinique, Aramis, and MAC. Throughout the history of beauty industry, she was the only woman on Time magazine’s list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century.
4. Mary Kay Ash: A Women Who Created A Successful Cosmetics Company From Scratch (Internal Marketing)
Mary Kay Ash was born in 1918 in Texas, and was married at the early age of 17 years. Passionate about sales, she worked as a saleswoman for various companies. She often faced discrimination even after her outstanding performances.
Frustrated by being passed over for promotions in favour of men, she finally decided to retire in 1963 and write a book to help women in business.
However, her book turned into a business plan for her ideal company, which she launched with the help of her son and her husband. Unfortunately, her husband died of a heart attack before the company started, but she did not give up on her dream.
With the help of her son and a sum of $5000, she started her company Mary Kay Cosmetics and based it on the principles of the Golden Rule, faith, family, and career.
She created a unique beauty marketing strategy that rewarded her saleswomen with recognition, incentives, and mentoring. She called her saleswomen her “daughters” and treated them with respect and encouragement.
Being a visionary leader in the history of beauty business, she inspired millions of women worldwide to achieve their potential and live their dreams.
5. Madam C.J. Walker: An African American Revolutionist in the History of Beauty Industry (Cause Related Marketing)
Madam C.J. Walker was born in 1867 in Louisiana to parents who had been enslaved before the Civil War. She faced many hardships and challenges in her life, such as losing her parents at a young age, becoming a widow with a daughter at 20, and working as a poorly paid washerwoman.
When she suffered from scalp infections that caused hair loss, it became a turning point in her life. She invented a hair loss treatment involving scalp preparation, lotions and iron combs. In the history of beauty industry, it was known as the “Walker system”, and was very popular among Black women who suffered from scalp disorders and hair breakage.
She established her own company, the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, which produced and sold her hair products, as well as cosmetics and skincare products.
Madam C.J. Walker also opened a factory and a beauty school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she trained thousands of women to become “beauty culturalists” and sell her products door-to-door.
She was a role model and a mentor for many Black women who aspired to become entrepreneurs and leaders. She inspired them with her personal story of overcoming poverty, discrimination and adversity to achieve success and wealth.
Entrepreneur, beauty marketing genius, go-getter, salesman, Beauty trainer, philanthropist, and so much more she became throughout her lifetime. She is one of the most influential people in the history of beauty industry and a symbol of women empowerment.
6. Bobbi Brown: Pioneer in Natural-ish Shade Lipsticks (Product Differentiation)
Born in 1957 in Chicago, she had a passion for makeup since she was a young girl, and often experimented with her mother’s cosmetics.
After graduation, she moved to New York City in 1980 and worked as a freelance makeup artist for magazines and celebrities. She developed a reputation for creating natural and flattering looks that enhanced the beauty of her clients.
She was frustrated by the lack of natural-shade lipsticks in the market, so she decided to create her own. After successfully producing ten lipsticks that matched the natural color of the lips, she launched her brand, Bobbi Brown Essentials, in 1991. She sold 100 lipsticks on her first day, and her brand became an instant success.
She expanded her product line to include foundation, blush, eye shadow, mascara, and skincare. Also being a writer, she also wrote several books on beauty and wellness, such as:
- Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual
- Bobbi Brown Beauty Rules
- Bobbi Brown Beauty from the Inside Out
She became a household name and a role model for many women in the history of beauty who admired her philosophy of natural beauty and self-confidence.
7. Elizabeth Arden: Established Makeup as an Acceptable Fashion Choice (Narrative-Based Marketing)
Elizabeth Arden was born in Canada in 1881. She had a difficult childhood, as her mother died when she was six, and her father remarried a woman who mistreated her. She left school at 14 and worked as a bookkeeper and a nurse’s aide.
She moved to New York City in 1908, where she worked as a makeup artist and learned about skincare. Inspired by the French beauty salon culture, she decided to open her own salon in 1910. Soon, she became one of the most successful and influential women entrepreneurs in the world, with over 150 salons and 1,000 products by the 1930s.
Elizabeth pioneered the concept of the “total look”, which involved coordinating makeup, skincare, hair, and fashion. She also introduced innovative products, such as the first travel-size cosmetics, the first foundation that matched different skin tones, and the first sunscreen.
She is the one who established makeup as an acceptable thing for women. Today, when you hear makeup or makeover, the credit goes to Elizabeth. She was the first person to properly showcase the transformative power of makeup. She was also awarded Légion d’Honneur in 1962 for her contribution to the beauty & cosmetics industry.
8. Huda Kattan: A Women Who Pushed Back With Beauty (Influencer Marketing)
Huda Kattan was born in 1983 in Oklahoma to Iraqi parents, who moved to the US for a better life. While growing up, she faced bullying and self-esteem issues because of her ethnicity and appearance. She found solace in makeup and started experimenting with different looks from a young age.
Pursuing her passion for makeup she enrolled in the Joe Blasco makeup school in Los Angeles. Then, as a celebrity makeup artist, she worked with clients like Eva Longoria and Nicole Richie.
In 2010, she launched her beauty blog Huda Beauty, where she posted makeup tutorials, tips, and reviews. While, she was gaining a huge following on social media, especially on Instagram and YouTube, she became one of the most influential beauty influencers in the world, with over 47 million Insta followers and 4.1 million YouTube subscribers by 2020.
In 2013, she founded her cosmetics line Huda Beauty, which started with a series of false eyelashes that she sold through Sephora. The lashes were a hit, especially after Kim Kardashian wore them.
She then expanded her product range to include eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks, foundations, highlighters, and more. Her products are known for their high quality, pigmentation, and innovation.
She was also featured in Forbes, Time, and Allure magazines as one of the most powerful and influential people in the beauty industry.
9. Jean and Jane Ford: The Women Who Just Wanted to Have Fun (Product Innovation)
Jean and Jane Ford were identical twins, born in 1947 in Indiana. Both shared a love for art, creativity, and adventure. Hence, they majored in Art Education and joined the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority at Indiana University.
After graduating, they moved to New York to pursue Modelling but couldn’t get success. They decided to move to San Francisco in 1976, where they felt more at home with the hippie culture and the vibrant art scene.
They opened a small beauty boutique called The Face Place in the Mission District, where they offered quick-fix solutions for beauty dilemmas.
They also started making their own products, such as Benetint, a rose-tinted lip and cheek stain that was originally created for an exotic dancer. They came up with catchy and witty names for their products, such as ‘Dr. Feelgood’, ‘High Beam’, and ‘They’re Real’.
They renamed their company Benefit Cosmetics in 1989 and expanded their distribution to department stores and international markets.
They inspired millions of women around the world with their fun and quirky approach to beauty. They believed that laughter is the best cosmetic and that every woman should feel good about herself.
10. Harry styles: A Man Who Revolutionized the Male Beauty Industry (Cause Related Marketing)
Born in 1994 in England Harry Styles is mostly known for his Singing and songwriting career. However, he is attached to beauty industry more than any other male beauty enthusiast.
Harry Styles is strongly associated with bold beauty and fashion choices. He is a man responsible for breaking the stereotypes of male make-up & popularizing beauty products for men such as make-up collections, nail lacquers, etc.
He launched his own beauty brand, Pleasing, in 2021, which offers nail polishes, an illuminating serum, and a dual-purpose eye and lip oil. The brand aims to blur the boundaries of gender and celebrate individuality and self-expression
He has been a trailblazer in challenging the norms of masculinity and femininity with his flamboyant and eclectic fashion choices. He often wears nail polish, makeup, jewelry, and gender-fluid clothing, inspiring many people to embrace their own style and identity.
He has been a vocal supporter of various causes, such as women’s empowerment, LGBTQ+ rights, and mental health awareness. He has used his platform and influence to raise awareness and funds for these issues, as well as to promote diversity and inclusion in the beauty industry and beyond.
From breaking stereotypes to self-made billionaires, these legendary figures are quite responsible for revolutionizing the history of beauty industry through their beauty marketing strategies.
However, sometimes it was easy, and there may be the ‘right-place-at-the-right-time’ kind of luck involved at times, but mostly, it was their sheer will, consistency, and innovative beauty marketing strategies that helped them build empires and gain influential success.
Many beauty brands remained nameless throughout history and couldn’t make it due to failed beauty marketing efforts or giving up too early.
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