Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 08/14/2015

Talk about David outwitting Goliath: Anastasia Beverly Hills is the most liked beauty brand on Instagram by far.

For the second quarter of 2015, Tribe Dynamics estimated Anastasia Beverly Hills’ earned media value on the social media platform was $46.5 million, versus $26.4 million for MAC and $17.2 million for Too Faced. Tribe collects its data using a proprietary analytics platform that monitors 50,000 top influencers within beauty, fashion and lifestyle across a diverse set of social channels.

This story first appeared in the August 14, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Those figures are impressive for an 18-year-old brand founded by brow guru Anastasia Soare, who has successfully activated a cadre of followers to post about her brand. “Her acceleration in the last year is due to how many people are generating content about the brand,” says Conor Begley, cofounder of Tribe. “It is not on her own channel,” he explains. “It is on the Instagram channels of other people, who have 50,000 to a few million followers.”

Soare was an early adopter on the platform, thanks to Claudia Soare, Anastasia’s daughter and the brand’s president. About three years ago, Claudia convinced her mother to embrace Instagram. Anastasia certainly has. Today, Anastasia Soare tries to post at least once every three hours between 7 a.m. and midnight.

“Having a short attention span, it piqued my interest,” says Claudia Soare, in an interview. “I felt that the consumer shops the same way, through visuals rather than words….We don’t have the capacity to run large-scale global advertising campaigns, and Instagram seemed like a magazine for fashion, beauty and fitness.”

Today, the brand works with a wide array of Instagram influencers — Claudia Soare figures well over 600 — who receive products from Anastasia Beverly Hills usually one to three weeks before launch. “We don’t promote to sell, we promote to inspire [and] to establish what we are all about,” she says, noting the brand chooses what Instagrammers to work with based on their photo quality and makeup artistry, rather than the number of followers.

That focus has paid off, said Christina Goswiller, head of strategy and market research at Tribe. “They are working with influencers to create a very similar style of post where it is this glamour shot up close of their face, and it lists the products and brands in the shot. The look is always flawless. It’s like a professional photograph.”

Amra Olevic, better known as @amrezy on Instagram, is one such example. A Kardashian look-alike who posts frequently about Anastasia Beverly Hills, her Instagram followers have skyrocketed from 670,000 to 2.9 million in less than two years. “Amrezy is a fantastic marketer who understands what her followers want. She knows how to create her content in a consistent manner and never takes a day off,” Soare says. Other standouts for the brand are Samantha Ravndahl, aka @ssssamanthaa, Desi Perkins, aka @desimakeup, and Christina Cagle, aka @chrisspy. Collectively, the four accounted for $11,178,882 in EMV for the second quarter.

Anastasia Beverly Hills has been particularly effective in using Instagram to expand consumer awareness — and retailer interest — beyond the core brow category. “It was next to impossible for us to approach our retail partners and propose an entirely new category launch that doubled and tripled the amount of [stockkeeping units] they’ve carried for 10-plus years,” Claudia Soare says. “We took matters into our own hands and decided to speak to the consumer directly.”

The strategy has clearly paid off in terms of sales, which industry sources indicate have quadrupled. According to the NPD Group, for the first half of 2015, Anastasia Beverly Hills was the 14th ranked brand in prestige color cosmetics and number six in the eye category; in 2012, the brand was ranked 25 and 12 respectively. Its growth in prestige beauty online sales is equally as impressive: For the first half of 2015, the brand ranked number 10 in total makeup sales, up from number 22 in 2012, and in the eye category, it soared to the number three position for first half 2015 sales, up from number 13 three years ago.