Campus News

Assistant marketing professor discusses marketing and beauty brands

Rosanna Smith

Rosanna Smith, an assistant professor in the marketing department of the Terry College of Business, was recently quoted in an article from The Financial about marketing tactics and beauty brands.

Marketing beauty brands as an innovative medium for individualism earns more acceptance on social media, new research shows.

“People tend to assume that others use makeup to hide aspects of their appearance, which they then link with concealment of the true self,” said Smith, the study’s lead author. “But a self-expression framing prompts people to think about makeup differently. Just like Picasso painted on a canvas, people who use makeup paint their faces. When makeup is seen as an art form as opposed to a concealment strategy, people perceive it as more authentic.”

Consumers are now more likely to trust beauty influencers’ suggestions for new products than on traditional advertising. Still, the stigma of being judged can stop people—even beauty influencers—from sharing everything about their makeup or beauty routines, Smith said.

“Authenticity can be challenging to achieve in the beauty industry,” she said. “There is a tension for consumers between the desire to alter one’s appearance and the fear of misrepresenting the self. As a result, consumers may avoid telling others about their beauty work for fear of negative social judgments.”

CoverGirl cosmetics temporarily changed its advertising slogan from “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful” to the more self-expressive “I Am What I Make Up,” and Smith found that Instagram users who used the latter hashtag wore more noticeable makeup and engaged in more word-of-mouth about beauty products compared to those who used the original hashtag.

“This suggests that people are less likely to hide their beauty work from others when they have a self-expression framing,” Smith said.

The majority of study subjects rated an influencer using makeup to express herself as more authentic than the same influencer who said she was using makeup to enhance her look.

“You can hold constant the actual change in appearance via makeup, and people will judge it differently simply if you alter the motivation for the change. Was it to look better or to express yourself?” she said.

The article continued to emphasize that the study has strong implications for how companies should market makeup brands to consumers