Instagram is key to Ouai’s marketing strategy, according to director of marketing Hannah Beals.

In conversation with Thomas Rankin, Dash Hudson’s cofounder and chief executive officer, Beals shared insights into how Ouai is using data to inform its social media strategy — and product development. The brand, she said, has been using Instagram for everything from education to sneak peeks of product releases to gauging interest in potential products before they’re even manufactured.

“We do a lot of crowdsourcing via polls or stories or on our grid,” said Beals. “We’ll start by asking questions like ‘what are your biggest hair concerns?’ or ‘what product is missing from your routine?’ We use it as a ‘choose your own adventure’ situation where we let the customers’ feedback guide us into different paths, and when we move into more of the product development phase, we ask more specific questions like ‘what kind of packaging do you prefer?’ We’re relying on the insights and analytics that we get through Dash Hudson to guide how we’re developing packaging and formula.”

For photo-sharing, Ouai works with Dash Hudson’s Vision product, which uses “computer vision,” said Rankin, to look at all of a brand’s photos to better understand what in the image is driving performance. Vision is then able to recommend which photos to share based on this data.

This strategy worked well for Ouai’s fragrance launch. After using Instagram to gauge their following’s interest in Ouai fragrances, the brand created a pre-order waitlist for a rollerball test set on the platform. “We were able to sell out of the product in under 48 hours,” said Beals.

Dash Hudson’s Visual IQ tool also allows Ouai to see which pieces of user-generated content would make for top-performing re-grams, allowing the company to be more strategic about what it shares with its audience.

“We’re still a growing brand and we don’t work with a lot of budget,” said Beals. “For us, Instagram is a really low-cost way to get the word out there and a way to reach him and her and communicate with them on a multiple times per day basis without much investment. Beauty used to be a boardroom of a few select people making decisions about the product lineup for the year and now beauty’s become an industry for the many. Everyone can be a part of the process and there’s so many brands doing this well now. That’s why Instagram is always gonna be integral to our marketing strategy.”

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