Preview

Beautycon embraces pop-ups to bring experiential events and community to more consumers year-round, but it can’t replicate the exclusivity of its festivals.

WHAT HAPPENED: Beautycon, which began in 2011 as a conference for YouTube beauty influencers and launched a B2B festival for beauty brands in Los Angeles in August 2013, is looking to pop-ups to bring the experience to more people, more times a year.

Why it matters

  • Since 2013, Beautycon’s main conference, the Beautycon Festival, has grown into a biannual event that can attract up to 30,000 attendees, including company representatives, beauty influencers and consumers. For Beautycon Festival vendors, the opportunity is clear: The event serves as a social media-friendly marketing vehicle while giving brands brands the opportunity to engage with customers in person (particularly important for digitally-native companies) alongside a lineup of speakers, celebrity appearances, makeup tutorials by YouTube influencers and DJ sets. In the past, the conference has garnered $4,200 per square foot, speaking to the power of in-person retail.

  • Festivals, however, aren’t a scalable experience for Beautycon, according to CEO Maj Mahdara. Instead, the company is building out ecommerce and Beautycon Pop—a pop-up concept that mimics the festivals on a smaller, shorter-term scale. The pop-ups, typically in operation for three to ten months, aim to create social media-worthy retail experiences that merge legacy beauty brands with up-and-coming, direct-to-consumer companies (its pilot pop-up in LA featured 22 digitally-native, female-founded brands). The company also says it wants to merge ecommerce with community and education, though its current site doesn’t differentiate much from other retailers. The good news is that through the festivals, Beautycon has built a brand for itself grounded in inclusivity and entering both physical retail and ecommerce will enhance this identity by making the brand more accessible to a broader audience. But ecommerce, and to an extent the pop-ups as well, cannot replicate the exclusivity of a two-day festival with singular experiences—so much so that attendees buy a ticket to then go shopping. It remains to be seen whether the pop-ups will be more scalable than a conference that sells 30,000 tickets given the operational complexity of launching multiple, temporary retail concepts.

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