NYX Cosmetics describes itself as a “digital-first” brand, eschewing traditional ad buys in favor of customer selfies it shares on social media, including an Instagram account with 11.7 million followers. That strategy has paid off: though NYX is often described as a “cult beauty brand,” the Los Angeles-based company joined the big leagues in 2014 when it was acquired by L’Oreal for a reported $500 million. Now NYX is releasing its own app called Makeup Crew.
Makeup Crew will sell NYX products, feature “shoppable content,” including video tutorials by customers and beauty bloggers and let users leave reviews, earn rewards and download stickers.
NYX’s inclusive brand philosophy — its marketing features a much more diverse array of people than most other beauty brands, with different races and genders represented — and social media initiatives were considered innovative, but now many competitors have adopted the same strategies to reach younger consumers.
“That means we need to continue to innovate and this app is unlike anything else we’ve seen in the market,” says Mehdi Mehdi, NYX’s vice president of digital and e-commerce.
“We also feel like the technology is finally available to create an app that integrates all of our key strategies without compromising on quality, such as shoppable videos and user-generated content.”
In order to scale its digital content, NYX uses algorithms created by Olapic, a visual marketing platform, to decide which crowdsourced selfies are featured on its e-commerce site. Mehdi says NYX was the first beauty brand to launch Olapic’s tool and it will continue to use the tech in its app. Most of Makeup Crew’s technology, however, was custom-built by Texas-based software development agency Oven Bits, including the app’s shoppable video platform and its integration with NYX’s brick-and-mortar stores.
When the app launches, it will give NYX a third channel (the other two are its site and standalone brick-and-mortar stores) to gather data about customers' shopping habits. Like other e-commerce companies, NYX uses predictive intelligence tools to recommend products based on each shopper’s browsing and purchasing history.
“In terms of the shopping experience, being disconnected from a web browser gives us the flexibility to re-think the e-commerce flow. Every piece of content is fully shoppable without being funneled through a product page,” Mehdi says.
“You can watch a video and add products to your cart as the artist is using them or you can shop the full look as a bundle," he adds. "We really wanted to push the envelope and re-think the way consumers shop for products, otherwise there would have been no need to develop an app that just follows the same flow as our website on mobile.”
Makeup Crew will serve as a digital hub for NYX, pulling together user-generated content from its social media platforms. Instagram photos will feature on its homepage, while another section will have YouTube videos. The app also helps NYX gather data to help it develop future product lines. For example, users can create a personalized beauty profile with information about their preferences by swiping left or right on photos.
“We’re not a brand that promotes models or celebrity spokespeople to market our products. When you open the app, you’re going to see real people posting their artistry and product feedback without editing,” says Mehdi. “We’re prioritizing authenticity and transparency, which goes against the grain of many of the brands that are overly protective of their image.”