drunk elephant marketing strategy

#BBMoment: Drunk Elephant and how new Brands Make a Splash in the Beauty Industry

Launchmetrics Content Team

As the beauty industry has continued to grow in popularity, so has the market for skincare. Not only have we seen a rise in beauty gurus showing off their makeup skills, but 'skinfluencers' have also started to take the online world by storm. And, most of the brands making waves in the skincare space happen to be newly established, independent companies - such as Drunk Elephant - that have become hyped by consumers on social media and are now being stocked on the shelves of Sephora. These brands seemingly appear on our Instagram feeds out of nowhere and see exponential success, but where do they come from and how do they gain their popularity? In this #BBMoment, we explore Drunk Elephant, their marketing strategy and how their founder, Tiffany Masterson developed them into a cult brand.

Drunk Elephant, and how new skincare brands gain popularity

Employing a consumer-driven strategy

One of the most unique elements of Drunk Elephant's marketing and formulation strategy (and of many other successful skincare brands), is the fact that their products directly speak to consumers. The brand focuses on clean, stripped-back skincare and their formulations were initially created based on what Masterson was looking for as a consumer. This is embedded in the brand's overall marketing strategy and tone of voice, as Masterson notes: "I think my consumers trust me because I'm a consumer first, I'm honest with them and I'm willing to listen and learn as I grow."

Trust is essential for any skincare brand because consumers are putting the health of their face in the hands of a brand's products, and any bad review could turn customers off for good. Drunk Elephant keeps an open line of communication with their consumers, by taking time to provide lengthy feedback on their Instagram comments and changing the formulation and packaging of products based on customer opinions. Working with their audience to create a product they truly want has been essential for the brand's success, and making this clear to their dedicated audience is part of what has allowed them to grow so quickly on social media.

Word of mouth marketing

Drunk Elephant has been famous in the past for opting not to use influencer or celebrity-backed endorsements to push a product. As aforementioned, skincare is a unique business as it rests on consumer trust, and therefore peer opinions are sometimes much more valuable when it comes to product discovery. Drunk Elephant employs a word of mouth marketing strategy by participating in online forums, and stocking up their Instagram feed with happy customers who represent their true audience.


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"9 months, 7 months, 6 weeks, and 1 week. ⁣ ⁣ SO impressed with these results from @drunkelephant! About a year ago I realized I needed to get serious about my skincare routine. I went to @sephora and asked for advice on the best products to truly change my skin for the better. They recommended a few products and I ended up trying the B-Hydra Hydrating Serum. ⁣ ⁣ After a few weeks I was hooked. I went back and bought the whole line and, nine months later, the results speak for themselves. I can’t recommend them enough. Thank you #drunkelephant! ⁣ ⁣ My routine is: #BesteNo9 #UmbraSheer #VirginMarulaOil #LalaRetro #BHydra" —@mackromusic⁣ ⁣ What’s your #barewithus🐘 story? We want to see your beautiful face. Tag us in your selfie with your full DE routine—we'll be gifting our favorite DE goodies!

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The brand really utilizes this in their social media marketing strategy, as they share real customer stories of product success. The rise in using individuals in advertising that mirrors the way that consumers actually look, as well as their skincare concerns, works particularly well in this case as it builds a result-backed and genuine bank of successful user scenarios.

Activating a cross-Voice strategy

Many new and upcoming beauty brands focus their marketing strategies quite heavily on influencers and social media, however, skincare brands like Drunk Elephant actually saw their first success via media mentions in the likes of Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan. As they initially put little emphasis on influencer marketing, the brand consistently garnered value both on and offline from trusted Media publications. Today, 56% of their total MIV® is generated via the Media Voice. Across the last three months, the brand has specifically generated $7.4M in MIV® from this Voice alone, via print editorial features in Shape USA and mentions on Harper's Bazaar's YouTube channel.

Whilst Media brings in the most value for the brand, they do still activate Influencer Voices, which are the second-highest value-earner for the brand. Moreover, influencers generate a higher MIV® per placement for Drunk Elephant, making them an essential component of the brand's marketing strategy. Specifically, they see the most value from Mega and Mid-Tier Influencers such as Ling KT and The Anna Edit.


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If your new year resolution is to start playing around with colourful eyeshadow, start with peach tones 🍑😍 they’re not to bold, wearable for most occasions and brings out your skin tone ✨ • PRODUCTS: @drunkelephant electrolyte water facial @primark x @cocacola lip balm @narsissist radiant longwear foundation mixed with @lauramercier flawless lumiere radiant perfecting foundation @givenchybeauty everwear concealer @ciatelondon brushes @hudabeauty easy bake powder @benefitcosmeticsuk hoola bronzer @ofracosmetics highlighter palette @morphebrushes face most (use code “Ling” for 💰 off) @colourpopcosmetics bare necessities eyeshadow palette @eylureofficial lashes in Aurora . Hair and lip tutorial already live on my IG page, make sure to check them out ❤️ - #lingkt #hudabeautyeasybake #peachmakeup #makeuptutorial #diybeauty #makeup #easymakeup #everydaymakeup #hudabeauty #1minutemakeuptutorial

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Trust is essential when it comes to the success of new skincare brands like Drunk Elephant, and their unique story is something for other brands to pay attention to and implement in their own marketing strategies. We hope you enjoyed the insights shared in this #BBMoment, and look forward to March's installment of this series.

If you want to benchmark your skincare brand against other top-performers in the market, explore our Insights tool below:

drunk elephant marketing strategy

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