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Benefit Cosmetics Invests in Virtual Event for Mascara Launch

The company is said to have spent $500,000 on a digital event that drew 77,000 visitors.

Benefit Cosmetics is investing in influencer-led virtual events in lieu of the buzzy — and expensive — in-person ones it is known to host.

The cosmetics company is said to have spent $500,000 on a recent event — a fraction of the $10 million it reportedly spent on influencer activations pre-COVID-19. On Feb. 18, Benefit hosted a virtual launch party in support of its They’re Real! Magnet mascara, which industry sources estimate could exceed $120 million in first-year global retail sales.

Benefit’s virtual event’s microsite drew 77,000 unique visitors from more than 160 countries to participate in live meet and greets and to watch a performance by singer Ari Lennox. The bulk of the company’s investment is said to have gone to the nearly 3,000 VIP mailers and the agency, BMF, with which it built the microsite.

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On the same day as the event, Benefit began a two-day visit to 12 influencers via a mobile content studio.

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“We are faced with a moment in which we had to look at our launch significantly different based on the impact of the pandemic,” said Christie Fleischer, chief executive officer of Benefit Cosmetics. “How we were looking at engaging with our consumer and raising the bar for both an online and offline experience drove us to think differently about how to bring our consumers into the fold to learn about this critical innovation for us.”

Benefit has been evolving is influencer strategy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, placing increased emphasis on TikTok creators.

“The enthusiasm [TikTok creators] brought to talking about our products was unprecedented,” said Toto HaBa, senior vice president of global marketing and communications.

“Everyone is trying to figure out what’s the best way to work with creators now that we don’t have the face time that we used to, but at the end of the day, what we’re finding is that consumers are still discovering beauty through creators,” HaBa said.

After a trial run of Instagram Shopping, Benefit released its new mascara on Facebook’s e-commerce feature in the U.S. The company also created a custom AR filter to drum up engagement for the launch.
Benefit Cosmetics Sephora Dubai Mall
A rendering of Benefit’s buildout at the Sephora in the Dubai Mall. Courtesy of Benefit Cosmetics

In Dubai, Benefit has created a contact-less buildout, meant to resemble an arcade claw machine, at the Dubai Mall’s Sephora. The digital interactive installation is nearly 50 feet high and was created in partnership with London-based agency StudioXAG.

“Consumers can virtually interact with the [mascara’s] magnet technology,” HaBa said. “It’s another fun way to figure out how do we show this great innovation in a fun way, but within a safe, touch-less environment.”

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