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WWD Beauty Inc Awards: Benefit Cosmetics, Olay Win Brand of the Year

Benefit Cosmetics and Olay have seen success this year thanks to product innovations and influencer initiatives.

Prestige: Benefit Cosmetics

In a year that saw the prestige makeup category begin to soften, Benefit Cosmetics proved impervious—and emerged stronger than ever. The brand started the year off by introducing its Badgal Bang Mascara through a highly ambitious influencer initiative, securing a whopping 800 influencers from 22 countries to take part in launch events around the world. The influencers spanned micro to macro for a collective following of 500 million, with top names Jackie Aina, Nicole Guerriero, NikkiTutorials, Desi Perkins and Katy DeGroot in the mix. Benefit continued to bolster its stake in the influencer market throughout the year, culminating in the launch of a Brow Now button allowing the brand to keep product flowing to its influencer base while cutting down on packaging for a more sustainable seeding practice. In December, the company unveiled yet another initiative, tapping 10 social media stars from around the world to curate a series of brow palettes. Benefit has also capitalized on its dominance in the brow service sector to drive traffic, and announced it will expand its offerings with a first-to-market laser service. All of these efforts are driving sales above the industry average. Executives declined to comment, but industry sources report the brand will see double-digit growth for 2018 and is forecasting similar growth for 2019, with overall sales in excess of $1.5 billion.

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Mass: Olay

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Call it a comeback. Just a few years ago, Procter & Gamble-owned Olay had lost its way. There were too many stockkeeping units and a lack of differentiation, leading to a sales slump in its major markets, the U.S. and China. Enter 2018—with Alex Keith at the helm of P&G’s global beauty business and SK-II vet Markus Strobel running its skin-care brands, Olay is back in the game. The year kicked off with the introduction of Olay Whips, light-as-air moisturizers infused with technology from its most popular antiaging ranges, including Luminous and Regenerist Micro-Sculpting. A series of influencer and digital marketing campaigns followed suit—from the #28DayChallenge where superinfluencers such as Aimee Song and Chriselle Lim showcased before-and-after photos, to the diversity-promoting #FaceAnything campaign. The brand has also doubled down on personalization. Findings from its AI-driven technology, such as the Skin Advisor app, are informing new product development, including Olay Eyes Deep Hydrating Gel, a direct result of consumer feedback. The result of these combined efforts has been a major resurgence for Olay’s business. P&G on its fourth-quarter earnings call in July reported double-digit growth in its beauty business, driven mainly by its skin-care business. In a sluggish U.S. mass landscape, IRI said Olay’s moisturizers increased a whopping 22 percent. Whipped into a frenzy, indeed.