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Envied Beauty Brand? 

An envied beauty brand is a brand owner’s love and pride and a non-brand owner’s envy.

An envied brand starts its consumer love affair with love at first sight. An envied brand connects with the target audience at first sight, evoking the feeling, “this brand is for me!”

Love at first sight might sound extreme, but that’s the desired ideal for an envied brand when the consumer first becomes aware of the brand. At the other end of the spectrum, love at first sight brand should transform into consumer’s beloved brand, after standing the test of time, whether a startup or an established beauty brand.

Why do you need to be the envy of non-consumers in addition to the love of your consumers?

According to Professor Byron Sharp, the author of “How Brands Grow,” 

no matter how high your loyalty, it will never be 100%, not even close, and a brand always needs new consumers to grow. I have my points of difference with Professor Sharp, but this point he is right on.

Thus, an envied beauty brand is loved by the consumer and all stakeholders associated and coveted and envied by stakeholders not associated with the brand, whether vendors, buyers of retail stores, influencers, journalists, PR or media firms, etc. 

What makes an envied beauty brand the love and envy of consumers?

An envied beauty brand has an envied brand story, with a core emotional promise that has an element of surprise, that resonates with the consumer and is experienced coherently at all touchpoints by the consumer.

I would use envied beauty brand and envied beauty brand story interchangeably, but they mean the same thing.

There are other attributes of a great core promise, but we live in an attention and scrolling economy, so if your beauty brand does not catch the attention of the consumer, with an element of surprise that resonates emotionally, in the first 3-5 seconds, the others won’t matter.

Examples of Startup Envied Beauty Brand Core Promises:

Glossier: Beauty products made by real people and not in corporate boardrooms.

Prose: Haircare customized for unique you.

Cheekbone Beauty: Cosmetics brand leading representation for indigenous youth, so they realize their value in this world.

The challenge for the brands mentioned above would be to consistently live up to the core promise over time, develop relationships with their consumers, penetrate the lives, as experiences and rituals, of their loyal consumers, becoming a beloved brand, the other end of an envied beauty brand.

Core Emotional Promise with Surprise, Relevance and Coherent Application: Cheekbone Beauty

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Harper, Cheekbone Beauty founder, in February 2020. Jennifer is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. The brand had 50K followers, all organic, and exactly one year later, the brand has more than doubled the followers, adding a whopping 70K followers organically. A testament to the power of her community that is motivated by the core promise of the brand.

Cheekbone Beauty envied beauty brand story touchpoint coherence
Chart 1

-It is now an Indigenous cosmetics brand redefining sustainability for the beauty industry with the sustainable line called SUSTAIN, built for and along with its community, on-demand. The brand intends to create a circular economy, targeting zero waste by 2023.

-The brand is also the first Indigenous-owned and operated beauty innovation lab. 

Indigenous values and sustainability are as coherent as it can get. As shown in the chart, Cheekbone Beauty is an envied beauty brand with core promise applied coherently to all touchpoints.

Why and Who Needs to Create an Envied Beauty Brand?

Startup Beauty Brand

A startup needs to be an envious beauty brand to get noticed and desired amongst a plethora of newbies.

If you look at the prestige beauty market, 95% (approximation) of the beauty brands compete in the emerging market space and never make it to the mainstream market.

brand lifecycle emerging market envious beauty brand
Chart 2

A typical Indie beauty brand has 1%-2% market awareness. Glossier had close to 13% brand awareness in the UK by the end of 2019.

This emerging market comprises Innovators (2.5%) and Early Adopters( 13.5%) of the market. In total, 95% of startup beauty brands compete in 16% of the market.

The emerging market is very cluttered.

Progressing to the next phase in a brand’s lifecycle, meaning to a bigger set of consumers with lesser competition, from innovators to early adopters to early and then late mainstream, is contingent on success in the previous lifecycle phase.

Even if you have massive resources to create awareness and existing distribution to leverage, a startup brand does go through these phases, but the likelihood of success is much higher.

The startup beauty brand has to first succeed with the innovators to cross the first chasm into early adopters, and success there would help them cross the second, bigger chasm, from early adopters into early mainstream.


Innovators are all those people who live on the cutting edge of the category. They are always interested in anything that is an “addition” to the category, taking it further.

For example, other beauty brand founders, lab owners, lead journos, lead buyers of stores like Credo, Sephora, Ulta Beauty, Space NK, lead influencers, lead consumers, etc. They could be both interested in the brands for personal and professional reasons. Consumers who are innovators could be purely so for personal reasons.

Without huge resources, to create awareness in the emerging or early mainstream market or to incentivize the emerging market, a startup beauty brand has no option but to excite the Innovators.

The innovators would then help the brand cross into early adopters, and then excite early adopters to carry the brand to the mainstream market.

For example, Glossier developed its products with real-life people who were the heavy visitors to their blog, Into The Gloss, leveraging them both for new product development and awareness.

Into The Gloss still posts interviews with influencers, not necessarily in beauty, around their beauty routines and creates a win-win relationship.

Next Phase: Early Adopters

The early adopters want to be the first to try a truly envious brand in their social circles and then let their circle know about it. That’s how you get to reach the mainstream market.

To summarize, to succeed in the emerging market, a startup beauty brand needs to wow the innovators and early adopters to get noticed and generate love at first sight. Then create a brand tribe out of them, and leverage this tribe for creating awareness and crossing into the mainstream market.

A startup beauty brand will eventually become a beloved brand once it is in the mainstream market with a brand tribe beyond the innovators and early adopters. At this stage, and for the brand tribe( superfans), the brand becomes a beloved brand permeating cherished moments, experiences, and rituals of a consumer’s life.

Startup Envious Beauty Brand funnel vs established envious beauty brand funnel
Chart 3

Established Beauty Brand

An established beauty brand too needs to be an envied beauty brand to keep earning the loyalty and love of their current consumers and attract new consumers in the present and next phase of their lifecycle.

For the established brand’s superfans( tribe), the brand would become a beloved beauty brand owing to trustworthy relationships over time and forming of day and life rituals around the brand.

The core DNA, core emotional promise, of the established brand will still have an element of surprise(unaware consumers) applied coherently to all consumer touchpoints, and the challenge is to keep this promise relevant and coherent to all the consumers in the funnel. Another difference between a startup and established beauty brand would be the big opportunity to market the envied brand.

For an established envied beauty brand, the bigger opportunity could be addressing a leak towards the bottom of the funnel around purchase, loyalty and brand tribe. In contrast, for a startup beauty brand, the opportunity would be more top of the funnel around awareness.

For each of the two types of brands, whether a startup or established, it is economical and more impactful to leverage the brand tribes( super fans) to address the strategic funnel challenges.

A startup needs to leverage the brand tribe to create influence primarily focused on awareness. In contrast, an established beauty brand needs to leverage the brand tribe to plug brand funnel leaks towards the bottom of the funnel, namely purchase, loyalty, and brand tribe.

It does not mean that an established beauty brand won’t target new consumer acquisition at all. Consumer acquisition is the biggest focus in early mainstream, while in the late mainstream market and maturity, the focus tilts more towards retention, profitability, and share of the consumer wallet.


An envied beauty brand is love at first sight for a startup beauty brand or an established beauty brand’s unaware consumers, and it is the beloved brand for the brand tribe( super fans) of a startup or an established beauty brand. Also, it is the envy of all the non-buyers of an envious beauty brand.

For a startup beauty brand, without huge amount of resources, there is no alternative to an envied beauty brand because we live in an attention and scrolling economy. The core DNA, core emotional promise with an element of surprise that resonates with the target consumer, will catch the attention of innovators and early adopters and evoke love at first sight.

Since a startup beauty brand rarely has the budget to reach all the consumers in the emerging markets, becoming an envied brand helps.

The innovators proactively hunt for beauty brands that are adding to the category. Once the brand is love at first sight for them, they will make the early adopters, their followers, aware of the brand as well, together they will carry the brand into the mainstream without affecting profitability.

To up the chances of success, you should create a tribe and leverage it strategically for awareness and profitability.

For an established beauty brand, being an envied beauty brand will help attract new consumers; you always need them, as well as transform lifelong trusted relationships with consumers into experiential moments and rituals with the brand, becoming a beloved brand.

Is your beauty brand struggling to win in and wow the emerging market space, to eventually break into the mainstream?

Feel free to book a complimentary consultation with me on how to transform into an envied beauty brand for resource independent, organic growth here


For The Next Phase of Profitable Growth!

ROHIT BANOTA, Founder of StorySaves, has transformed dozens into envied beauty brands for sharp and profitable growth, kickstarted from day 1 with “strategic brand story” and “story-led brand strategy” & powered by digital.

He has over 17 years of marketing and business experience growing consumer packaged brands including with startups and MNCs like P&G Beauty and Grooming.

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