An Unlikely Alliance: Bobbi Brown Cosmetics & Uber Technologies Inc.

At first glance, the partnership between Bobbi Brown, a premium cosmetics company, and Uber, a digital business transportation platform, may seem ridiculous; however, their alliance was strategic for both parties and proved to be widely successful.

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WHAT IS BOBBI BROWN?

Bobbi Brown, a professional make up artist from Chicago, founded Bobbi Brown Cosmetics in 1991 when she and a “chemist released a line of new lipsticks under the brand Bobbi Brown Essentials, which debuted at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. The success of her makeup line led Estee Lauder to buy the company in 1995. Her work has since been featured on the covers of magazines such as Elle, Vogue, Self and Town & Country“. Since then, Bobbi Brown has grown to be one of the most recognized and luxuries make up lines in the United States. Bobbi Brown products are premium priced cosmetics with the  mission of  helping all women feel “pretty and powerful”.  Brown has launched several highly successful cosmetic campaigns centered around themes such as, “Pretty & Powerful”, “anyone can be their own make up artist”, and “Be Who You Are”.

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Personally, I am a huge fan and admirer of both Bobbi Brown as a successful business woman and of her high quality cosmetic line. I find her products to be elegant, simple, high quality, and beautiful. Additionally, Bobbi Brown has an extensive social media presences. Her instragram displays not only her products, but  heathly living tips, motivational quotes, pictures of Bobbi Brown and her personal life, and Brown’s many campaign events and efforts. Snap chat is a tool often optimized by Bobbi Brown. With the touch of a bottom, one can view all fashion shows Bobbi Brown has been working with that  week or get a quick make up tutorial. On Facebook, Bobbi Brown has over 4.3 million followers, and her website bobbibrown.com speaks for itself. On the site, one does not only find her products, but also extensive make up tutorials, which emphasis the organic and invidual value and beauty of each woman and how make up is a tool to enhance not coverup natural features in order to highlight confindence. Additionally, her make up tutorials are performed on a diverse women in order promote and celebrate the beauty of diversity.

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There is only one impedement for girls like me from falling totally in love with Bobbi Brown, the price. Broke college girls can’t typically afford $32 mascara and $65 eye shadow pallets in great amounts, so what is a girl to do? This is the company’s main issue with millennials such as myself. What is Bobbi Brown to do? Enter Uber…

WHAT IS UBER?

Uber Techonoligies Inc. “is an American multinational online transportation network company headquartered in San Fransico, California: and founded by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp. The entire transportation platform is based on a mobil app which allows riders to easily requested rides to their locations. The convenience and ease of the service has turned it into one of the most  successful companies world wide. The legality of Uber has been contested in serval countries all over the world; nevertheless, this digital platform has completely disrupted and revolutionized the transportation industry. So why would they want to partner with a premium cosmetic brand like Bobbi Brown?

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AN UNLIKY PARTNERSHIP & MASTER PLAN

On September 22nd, Bobbi Brown partnered with Uber, giving make up touch ups to a goal of 640 lucky Uber passengers in both Manhattan and the greater LA area. “The plan is for each makeup artist to hit four users per hour, according to Brown, and if you multiply that by four hours and 20 stylists, that unfortunately only means about 320 people per city will be able to experience the service. Brown herself will also ride around New York City in an Uber for a portion of the evening, surprising users with touch-up tutorials”. If  you are anything like me when I first heard of this partnership you are asking yourself, what could these two companies possibly have in common? Why did they partner up? Premium retails and a digital transportation company did I read that correctly? What is the logic?

As mentioned previously, Bobbi Brown sells expensive products. Their major consumer base is composed of upper middle class women, 30-and above, who have the disposable income to spend on their premium products. Although Bobbi has done very well with this demographic, the company is hungry to expand its consumer base and overall market share. What does that mean? Millennials! And what do millennials love? Uber!

Therefore, Bobbi Brown partnered with Uber to create a campaign which gave her direct access to millennials. What is another important fact about millennials beside that they can’t afford her products? They are busy and used to being constantly on the go! This notion inspired the direct connection with Uber and Bobbie new campaign “Retouch on the Go”. Bobbie Brown states, “I’ve never sat in my bathroom and done my makeup,” Brown told WWD Tuesday of only applying makeup “on the go.”Bobbie Brown’s main push for the Fall season is their retouching products and they wanted to specially target and attract millennials. Therefore, the company figured if they offer free make up lesson in the back of an Uber and highlight the quality and quick application of the products on the go, it may entice millennials to maybe to splurge on Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. Although  statistics have not been published specifically on the success of the Bobbi/Uber Day partnership, her retouching line has been launched into the market and has seen high sales thus far. “The Wand in particular is being positioned as an alternative to foundation, according to Brown, who is targeting a younger, Millennial customer who might find the light coverage, quick results and pen as a form factor appealing”.

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So what is in it for Uber? It is apparent why Bobbi wants to work with Uber, but why does Uber want to work with Bobbi? Women empowerment. October is Breast Cancer month and Bobbi Brown, along with their parent company Estee Lauder is one of the main supporters of such causes. Additionally, as I mentioned before, the entire Bobbi Brown company is focused on highlighting natural beauty, motivating female confidence, women empowerment, and beauty diversity. Bobbi Brown has an exceptional reputation in the industry for being a leader in postive self image and love. Uber found it strategic to feed off such reputation during October Breast Cancer month in order to align themselves with this positive female empowerment image, which they have traditionally not been known for.

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In addition to the direct Bobbi and Uber make up tutorial rides on September 22nd, Bobbi Brown launched a massive social media campaign to support this one day. “It’s a fresh approach to connect with someone else whose business is about servicing on-the-go consumers, said Peter Lichtenthal, president of Bobbi Brown. Here, we have products for busy women on the go to touch up in an on-the-go way, so we said, ‘Hey, wouldn’t this be a great relationship for us to have and then share that synergy out on our social platforms?’” In addition to the brand’s paid efforts, producing content that will live on its owned channels and influencer outreach, “Lichtenthal said the goal is to get the women who experience a retouch in an Uber talking about it on their social channels and in turn, influence their personal networks”.
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Was this partnership unlikely? Yes! Was this partnership brilliant? In my opinion, defiantly!! I applaud Bobbi Brown’s strategic approach to attracting millennials. I find it fresh, creative, intriguing, and effective. Although it is clear that Bobbi Brown is in the one in the spotlight in this partnership, the benefits are mutually benefical. Bobbi could not have promoted the way she did without Uber, and in exchange Uber got directly associated with Bobbi’s reputation for female appreciation, respect, and empowerment. These types of  partnership  are exactly what I find most impactful and exciting in the realm of Social Media and Digital Business.

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Sources:

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/09/ubers-will-come-with-makeup-lessons-with-bobbi-brown.html

http://www.latimes.com/fashion/la-ig-bobbi-brown-20160921-snap-story.html

9 comments

  1. kdphilippi18 · ·

    I agree – what an unlikely, but great partnership! I am also a big fan of Bobbi Brown because of her high quality and simple products, but hate the price tag. I definitely think it was a strategic move that she teamed with Uber to reach millennials in their enviroment, but in a very creative and clever way. She is extremely smart to appeal to the consumer on their terms, but also by fitting their needs – on the go make up. I wonder if they were able to catch some of these Uber encounters on video or Facebook live – that could have been an even better way to engage more customers on social media, especially since Bobbi herself was in some of the ubers! Given all of Uber’s negative press, it definitely behooves them to partner with a great company that stands for empowering women and diversity.

  2. alinacasari · ·

    Awesome blog post!!! I’m a huge fan of Bobbi Brown products, but the price tag is definitely steep. I think this was a great marketing campaign to attract more millennial users. A partnership with Uber is definitely strategic for both companies the way you described. I wonder if they will expand this idea into other cities as well in the future for a new ad campaign? It’s interesting that more companies haven’t done this. I’ve seen some examples in the news, but not nearly as many as I think there could be.

    I agree that the benefits are mutually beneficial. It’s cool to see Bobbi Brown take the spotlight and also Uber benefit from supporting women empowerment!! This was a really cool mix of two companies that you wouldn’t expect to do business together.

  3. Nice, insightful and deep post. I do think the move was a bit more calculating on behalf of Uber. They have taken quite a bit of heat early in their company’s history for having a fairly misogynistic company culture. That, and there was an incident of them threatening a female reporter who was writing about it. Many women boycotted Uber in SF as a result. This is likely a move on their part to attempt to repair that image.

    1. Thank you Professor Kane! Also, very interesting to hear more about Uber’s reasons to partner with Bobbi! When I was doing my research on this alliance, I did not come across these examples you mentioned ( which I understand because I know Uber does not want that publicied more than it already has been), but it certaintly adds weight to why the agreed to partner with Bobbi Brown! Defiantly understand their more calculated approach through those two examples.

  4. I loved this blog post… one of the more creative forms of guerrilla marketing I’ve seen in a while! It takes the department store experience of makeovers and bring that influence right to its target consumers. The idea bringing the products and experience directly (and direct as you can get) to consumers is brilliant, but what is more brilliant is matching a marketing campaign of “on the go” with this innovative. Bobbi Brown is matching the products and the message itself to the way it is using digital and guerrilla marketing to reach its consumers. I loved the analysis and wanted to jump right to the section about the partnership without reading the company intros!

  5. Aditya Murali · ·

    Very interesting blog post! All this talk about Uber and promotions has me wondering what the future will look like when Uber, Lyft, etc. have a fully autonomous fleet on the streets. Now that there are no more people driving their own vehicles, Uber and Lyft can put whatever ads they want in any of their cars, because they own them completely. Not only will companies like this be able to make money off of rides, they’ll also make money off of ad revenue every time someone hops into their car! This collaboration with Bobbi Brown cosmetics is only the beginning of what I expect to be some very interesting marketing campaigns with several different companies!

  6. copmania12 · ·

    Thanks for sharing, Natalia! As someone who utilizes either Uber services or Bobbi Brown products on a daily basis, I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this alliance before. This was a great blog post and I really appreciated your analysis and personal reactions to learning about the nature of this synergistic effort. I foresee it doing more things for uber’s image than it does for the success of Bobbi Brown’s new line- I think the steep prices for her products are still a tough sell for millennials. That being said, this blog post did prompt me to check out the products in the new BB line, so it’ll be interesting to see how successful this campaign truly is!

  7. Tyler O'Neill · ·

    Well done! I definitely was exposed to a topic that I know little about in your article (since I’m a guy and all), but you did a great job explaining the importance of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and how they are partnering with Uber. It seems like the partnership is mutually beneficial for both companies, but I question how effective it will be. I haven’t heard anything about the partnership until reading your blog, so it seems the partnership has not helped to promote Uber’s public image much. Also, maybe it’s just because I’m a guy or a college student, but I cannot fathom paying over $100 for two makeup related items. No matter how much they appeal to millennials it will be hard to convince them to spend all that extra money, because after all, is quality really worth that much more money?

  8. Seems that uber is using their platform and the time you spend in an uber for many things. There have been even pitch sessions with VCs and mentoring time all in the comfort of your uber ride.

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