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Expert Q & A

TikTok's Superpower Might Be Marketing Beauty Products

June 18, 2021
Mae Rice

How did The Ordinary achieve its sky-high valuation? Well, it helps that the brand's products have gone viral on TikTok (where it's also verified, natch). We got Doe Lashes founder Jason Wong's take on why TikTok's so powerful in the beauty space.

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This week, Estee Lauder acquired the parent company of skincare brand The Ordinary at a not-ordinary valuation of $2.2 billion.

What makes the company so valuable? Well, The Ordinary blended credibility with single-digit prices in a way no skincare brand had before — but it also got major traction on TikTok.

This week, we talked to Jason Wong, founder of false lash company Doe Lashes, about why that matters — and why TikTok is such a powerful marketing channel for beauty brands in general, Doe included.

How The Ordinary won TikTok — and Estee Lauder money

The Ordinary just got acquired, and it has had some major successes on TikTok — UGC about one of its serums went viral, and its verified account has more than 250,000 followers. What do you think it’s doing right?

I think there are two big things. One is that The Ordinary’s products are affordable to the younger audience on TikTok, who might not be able to afford the $60 that most skincare brands charge for similar products. Some stuff from The Ordinary is $7; it’s like a cup of coffee. Number two is the simplicity of their products. It's easy to explain in a short video: “Hey, here’s a Vitamin C serum. It brightened my skin.” That type of thing can go viral, too, because a lot of people on TikTok will duet a video like that and try to get the same results. That really blew up The Ordinary.

Do you think The Ordinary’s TikTok following made it more attractive to Estee Lauder?

Yeah. The Estee Lauder Group is a legacy beauty brand that owns a ton of other brands in different sectors. In my opinion, The Ordinary will probably be the first or second brand in their portfolio that captures a younger audience, and when you get customers at an early age, their lifetime value (LTV) is astronomical.

The Ordinary’s TikTok marketing probably didn't cost them a lot, either. TikTok can lower customer acquisition costs (CAC) by a ton. I know because that's what happened to us at Doe. Our CAC on Facebook is $27, and our blended CAC is $8 because of TikTok. TikTok drove our customer acquisition costs down by 60%. We spend virtually no money there; it’s all organic.

Why TikTok works so well for beauty brands

What tactics have helped Doe build its organic TikTok following?

We just throw a hundred things at a wall, see what sticks, and make more of the stuff that sticks. We’ve found a couple specific types of videos work well for us: behind-the-scenes videos that show how we design and make our lashes. product reviews, product applications and beauty hacks. Unconventional ways to use our lashes also do well — even if they’re just funny. We used chopsticks to put on lashes one time, and people went crazy over it.

Have you had success with paid TikTok ads?

We were actually one of the first brands to get access to TikTok Business in fall of 2020. I was like, “Hell yeah, I’m going to leverage the heck out of that.” But it didn’t work for us. We tried to repurpose our organic content that was doing really well into ads, and that didn't work for us. User behavior just wasn’t primed for paid ads. On TikTok, an ad looks like an ad, and people immediately swipe past it. Right now, even if ads were free for us, our organic content would still perform better from a marketing standpoint.

Interesting! Do you think for beauty brands in general, TikTok — the unpaid side — is a uniquely valuable marketing tool?

TikTok is probably one of the best channels for marketing beauty today. Before TikTok, YouTube was the platform of choice for learning about makeup, but beauty vloggers make their videos anywhere between three and 20 minutes long. The longer the video, the more ad revenue they can make. Younger people have shorter attention spans; they want to learn how to apply their eyeliner in 60 seconds. TikTok is great for that, and for discovery. I know creators with 500 followers who had a TikTok viewed 900,000 times. That doesn't happen on YouTube.

This conversation has been condensed and edited.

Mae Rice
about the author

Mae Rice is senior editor at MarketerHire. A long-time content marketer, she enjoys interviewing marketing experts and learning about the weird and wonderful feedback loops that connect marketing and culture. She also loves any ad that makes her say "Huh?!" — especially Tim and Eric's ad for Totino's pizza rolls, which she watches way more often than you would think.

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