Beauty brands’ pandemic-era content aims to be more than skin deep

Sources:; Wander Beauty/Instagram; Indle Lee/Instagram
Apr 22, 2020

Consumers may not have tips for looking their best at the top of their reading lists at the present moment as many remain at home to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19. That’s the rationale driving decisions by some beauty brands to refocus their messaging on mental health and wellness topics.

Indie beauty brand Goop found that an article it had published on its website before the novel coronavirus outbreak — “8 Ways to Reduce Your Anxiety” — experienced a spike in traffic when the pandemic got underway, up 734 percent over its previous four-week average, according to an article on Glossy. The section of the Goop website dedicated to work and wellness has experienced a 23 percent increase in views. The brand has since increased its focus on that type of content.

Other indie brands, Wander Beauty and Indie Lee, likewise have pivoted their marketing calendars to shift away from beauty and towards content focused on staying calm, working from home and mindfulness strategies.

The public interest in mental health and wellness-related content is easy to understand given the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Enforced social isolation and mass job loss have created new social problems and exacerbated existing ones.

For instance, surges in domestic violence have been reported globally, The New York Times reports, as spouses are unable to pursue normal social channels outside of the home while experiencing higher levels of stress from the fallouts of the pandemic.

One report from an Orange County suicide hotline notes an 8,000 percent uptick in calls during the month of March, according to The Orange County Register. Many callers reported experiencing suicidal ideation and a sense of hopelessness.

Retailers in spaces other than beauty have taken steps toward addressing the concerns arising from the coronavirus pandemic. Zappos, the online shoe retailer renowned for its customer focus, for example, has launched a “Customer Service for Anything” hotline, in part to give those experiencing social isolation someone to talk to.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see an opportunity for retailers and brands to use mental health, wellness and related content to better connect with consumers at the present time? What do you see as the pros and cons of this communication strategy?

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"Leveraging content marketing during the age of COVID-19 is an opportunity to enhance long-term brand loyalty. "

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8 Comments on "Beauty brands’ pandemic-era content aims to be more than skin deep"

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Bethany Allee

Leveraging content marketing during the age of COVID-19 is an opportunity to enhance long-term brand loyalty. Overall, the approach of focusing on mental health and wellness is good. The downside is that not everyone is good at content marketing and there’s a level of sophistication required when dealing with sensitive topics and topics that carry impact.

Ralph Jacobson

Let’s face it, most humans like to look good. To paraphrase Bill Crystal playing Fernando Lamas, “It’s better to look good than to feel good.” And today it still stands that when people look good, they feel good, so why not promote the mental health benefits of beauty?!

Stephen Rector

Yes, there is an opportunity to create a better connection with their customers besides just broadcasting that everything is on sale. Consumers want brands to understand what they are going through right now and those brands that are creating content showing compassion and empathy will be remembered and supported in the future.

Gene Detroyer

I don’t think beauty brands have any business commenting on mental health. The most they should do is direct people to expert sites. How do we know what they are providing has any value? More importantly, how do THEY know that what they are providing has any value? How many would pick a Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil or such over a true expert? I find this very worrisome.

Lisa Goller

Consumers’ priorities have shifted and they now desire more meaningful connection. Recent Google data showed consumers are seeking comfort and guidance to be more self-sufficient.

Self-care has emerged as a top priority for resilience during the pandemic and its ambiguous duration. At this chaotic time, it makes sense for brands to promote total health: physical, mental and emotional well-being.


  • This is an ideal time for brands to show they care about consumers;
  • Compassion can differentiate brands;
  • Meaningful messaging can boost brand engagement and trust.


  • Compassion only works if it’s genuine (rather than trendy or disingenuous);
  • Sales could take a short-term hit due to a softer, gentler approach;
  • Incongruity, as some brands are driven by vanity, so heartfelt messaging may seem like a stark contrast to their regular campaigns.
Mary Henslee
2 years 3 months ago

Brands should absolutely expand the content they are providing to their loyal customers, but the content needs to be relevant, and the brands need to have genuine authority on the topic. This may be something that is clearly adjacent to their category, such as using scents and lotions to help relax and improve sleep patterns, for beauty brands. Other topics that might be more relevant now for beauty brands are how to look your best on Zoom or Facetime, or how to enhance your eyes and care for your skin when wearing a mask.

Kai Clarke

No, leveraging content marketing to be more durable and stronger in its reach, is not reasonable during these pandemic days. Any marketing campaign should be very cautious, since we are marketing in a manner that is largely untested and unknown. Instead, we should have minimal expectations for our marketing efforts during these difficult days, and instead look more for community efforts that can embrace our difficult situation.

Shikha Jain
The best brands are the ones that engage their consumers regularly with timely content that mirrors their values. In crisis times values center on mental health, wellness and community building. While these beauty brands may not be selling more products right now by pushing mental health and wellness content, they have positioned themselves such that young people are looking to their platforms for advice as well as a sense of community and solidarity. As a result, consumers will carry a sense of brand loyalty into less uncertain times, when they feel more freedom to spend discretionary funds. At the same time, this could be an opportunity for brands to tweak sales language around existing products, emphasizing how their products will promote relaxation, or a sense of calm and well-being. Brand and retailers also have an opportunity to curate collections and bundles from their own inventories such as a “calm and relaxation kit.” The risk lies in producing so much similar content that it becomes white noise while other brands (not just in the beauty industry)… Read more »
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