e.l.f. Cosmetics’ Marketing Success Revealed: A Deep Dive

e.l.f. Cosmetics’ Marketing Success Revealed: A Deep Dive

A Brand Voice Like No Other

E.l.f. cosmetics has been at the forefront of the beauty industry since 2004 with high-quality products at unbeatable prices. When it comes to marketing, e.l.f. Beauty embraces the power of e.l.f.luence, authentically embracing its persona as a bold disruptor and kind heart in the beauty industry. E.l.f. closely communicates with its die-hard beauty fanatics with social media as its core marketing channel. On platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, the e.l.f. social team never fails to engage its audience with conversations on product development, how to use e.l.f products best, and all the latest beauty trends.

So what exactly makes e.l.f.’s brand voice unmatched in the world of cosmetics brand? E.l.f. is fearless, eager to innovate, and knows how to have a good laugh online. More importantly, e.l.f. has adopted the voice of its loyal beauty community, leaning into Gen-Z slang, TikTok trends, and playful comments. When other brands say no, e.l.f. is ready to say yes, and. When fans ask, e.l.f. listens. E.l.f. wholeheartedly understands the makeup wants and needs of consumers of all ages and is dedicated to creating a social experience that elevates beauty enthusiasts of all skill levels.

What the e.l.f. is e.l.f. Pinching?

Given the recent popularity of e.l.f.’s latest releases, beauty lovers can’t seem to keep their hands off of new e.l.f. products. The viral launches of high-demand products like the Camo Liquid Blush and Halo Glow stirred hype across the entire beauty community. Of course, when must-have products sell out, some individuals can’t stand to wait and resort to other methods to try new e.l.f. products: e.l.f. pinching.

@elfyeah Replying to @Savannah we love our fans so e.l.f.ing much 💗🫡 that’s why we’ll be bringing back Jelly Pop again! 😉 #elfcosmetics #loveourfans #spfspray #restock #productdrops #blackcherrylipslick #haloglowliquidfilter #haloglow #haloglowbeautywands #beautywands #spf ♬ House Music – Yunusta

According to e.l.f. Cosmetics, e.l.f. pinching is, “the act of borrowing e.l.f. products without the intention of returning.” Teens stealing from parents, disappearing beauty products, pre-teens with sticky fingers–e.l.f. pinching has become an epidemic. Of course, there are some solutions. An anonymous user shared with e.l.f. that they must buy two or three e.l.f. lip products at a time in case her daughter sneakily steals one. Another user that they wished people would just buy their own e.l.f. products so that they wouldn’t feel inclined to e.l.f. pinch. Sometimes, even mini beauty fridges won’t suffice to protect your precious makeup and skincare essentials. E.l.f. jokingly advised a TikTok fan to utilize a makeup safe for optimal security measures.

Blending Classic Storytelling With True Crime

For many e.l.f. enthusiasts, the stories of e.l.f. pinching hit close to home. Investigating your belongings and frequented spaces to come up empty-handed is no easy journey. It takes a true sleuth to catch an experienced e.l.f. pincher, someone with a passion for true crimes and detectives. Inspired by the true stories of e.l.f. fans, Cosmetic Criminals premiered at an early screening of Mean Girls, shown before the movie trailer sequence. Cosmetic Criminals was shared on e.l.f. Cosmetic’s official YouTube channel the following day on January 9th, where it now approaches 6 Million views.

The story of Cosmetic Criminals centers on a pressing case of intergenerational cosmetic theft within a Valeberg family’s home. Filmed in the dramatic style of true crime documentaries, which have risen in popularity amongst younger generations, Cosmetic Criminals inspects the story of Olivia, a high school senior whose promposal was ruined after an unforgivable act of e.l.f. pinching. FBI cos-crime specialist Agent Boudreaux and local law enforcement leader Detective Fleck set out to investigate all parties within Olivia’s home and identify the e.l.f. pincher.

E.l.f.’s Cosmetic Criminals garnered massive praise from the beauty community online.

@karengebhard1759: “I have never ever watched a 15 minute commercial before. I couldn’t drag myself away from this. BRILLIANT. So well done and so funny. Great job! This could have been ripped from a Dateline or 20/20 exclusive !!!!! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼”

@LesleyCorbett: “I was right in the middle of a true crime documentary. I was then engrossed in 15 minute sales ad for this I don’t even wear make up! Well done Elf! Probably the best commercial I’ve ever seen. Plus, I learned how to put on make up well done!”

@genoagibson982: “This played at the movies before the trailers even started at my screening of mean girls the musical and I swear I have never been more hooked on a commercial before the trailers in my life ever!!!”

Rest assured, the cos-criminal was caught, and this case of e.l.f. Pinching came to a close.

E.l.f. Marketing Secrets from Laurie Lam

Laurie Lam, e.l.f.’s Chief Brand Officer, stands as one of the greatest pillars of creative genius on e.l.f.’s marketing team. In an interview with Glossy, Lam was celebrated as one of the modern media brand’s 2023 Glossy 50 Newsmakers and unpacked e.l.f.’s innovative approach to digital marketing. E.l.f. reported a 76% year-over-year net sales growth in November 2023, marking its 19th consecutive quarter of growth. At the time, e.l.f. CEO Tarang Amin shared his expectation that the cosmetics company would surpass $1 Billion in annual sales. Laurie Lam’s 20 years of experience at L’Oréal and 16 months of leadership at e.l.f. combined to inspire a new era of marketing at e.l.f., one dedicated to current trends and relating with consumers.

Lam shared with Glossy that e.l.f.’s key to marketing success is its confidence to move at the speed of culture. E.l.f. treats its marketing calendar as a living document, keeping a close eye on social media trends and online conversations in the beauty community. From trending CapCut edits to responding to top comments, e.l.f. quickly adapts its marketing calendar to stay relevant and ultimately spearheads beauty trends across social media. Lam told Glossy, “We are big enough to dream big, but we’re also small enough to be able to pivot. If something is not feeling right, we’ll scrap it at the last minute.” E.l.f.’s lightening-speed approach to identifying and embracing marketing trends authentically calls back to the brand’s values of experimentation, delighting the e.l.f. community, and universal appeal.

Creative Concepts That Were Too e.l.f.ing Good

E.l.f. is no stranger to extravagant, high-production marketing campaigns. Laurie Lam co-lead countless viral beauty campaigns for e.l.f. including the brand’s first-ever Super Bowl ad starring actress Jennifer Coolidge. The e.l.f. Power Grip Primer became the number one best-selling primer in the United States in 2023 thanks to its amazing sticking power and affordable price. Jennifer Coolidge’s vibrant personality and popularity amongst Gen-Z and Millenials following the release of White Lotus, a Max original series, was a marketing opportunity too good to pass up. Lam told Glossy that the Power Grip Primer “has incredible entertainment value. It’s dewy, it’s grippy, it’s sticky, it’s glowy. And so we took all of those elements and we coupled it with the stickiest icon in culture, of course—the queen, Jennifer Coolidge. And it flew.”

@jennifercoolidge The Power Grip Primer can make any ball ✨stick✨ 🏈 @elfyeah, fresh dewey skin that lasts all day! Everything is 100% vegan, cruelty-free & certified clean #stickyaself #elfpartner #elfcosmetics ♬ original sound – Jennifer Coolidge

The success of e.l.f.’s Power Grip Primer ad for the 2023 Super Bowl led the brand to pursue more celebrity campaigns, including another partnership with Jennifer Coolidge. E.l.f. released the Dirty Pillows Lip Kit in partnership with Jennifer Coolidge in September 2023. For only $25, the viral lip kit contained the Fill Frontal lipliner, Swollen plumping lipgloss, and Dirty Pillows satin lipstick encased in a luxurious satin-lined box. Jennifer Coolidge told Harper’s Bazaar that e.l.f. gave her full creative freedom from creating fun shade names to mixing gorgeous “lip potions” during product development. The demand for the Dirty Pillows Lip Kit was so high that it sold out in less than 48 hours with record-breaking social media impressions. Lam shared with Glossy that e.l.f. brought the collection “to life through episodic content with Jen herself. It raised $13.8 billion media impressions in 48 hours, our highest-ever for a product collaboration.” Due to the overwhelming response from the beauty community, e.l.f. rereleased the limited-edition lip kit in November 2023.

E.l.f. celebrated another star-studded Super Bowl ad success this year with Judge Beauty. E.l.f. Beauty headed to court on February 11, 2024 to serve nothing but eyes, lips, and facts. With renowned star Judge Judy Sheindlin and appearances from “Suits” actors Rick Hoffman, Gina Torres, and Sarah Rafferty, the verdict was clear: e.l.f. objects to overpriced makeup. Judge Judy shared with the press that joining an ad for the Big Game has been a bucket-list dream of hers and that “The trick was finding the right brand partner. So when I tried the products and liked them, it was the perfect fit!” Judge Beauty’s jury of diverse pop culture icons gathered to discuss Halo Glow Liquid Filter, one of the most viral complexion products on the market e.l.f.’s top-selling product of 2023. In a press release, e.l.f. Chief Marketing Officer Kory Marchisotto emphasized, “We’re leaning into the true diversity of the Big Game and carving a path that proves beauty not only belongs there, but everywhere. Our community trusts us to put them at the center of the conversation, and this campaign is going to do just that.”

2024 will be a year of redefining beauty and creative development for e.l.f., and we can’t wait to see what they have in store next. When it comes to beauty innovations and marketing genius, in e.l.f. we trust.

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