In today's world of seemingly infinite options, the beauty industry is presented with a unique challenge. With a multitude of beauty brands vying for attention, it's a daunting task to distinguish yourself and cultivate strong customer loyalty. 

e.l.f. Cosmetics, however, has not only risen to this challenge, but excelled at it; thanks to their ingenious 'Beauty Squad' program. This loyalty program serves as a shining example of successful community-building, offering valuable insights for any Brand Builder seeking to craft their own Social Commerce strategies.

Join us for this short yet impactful ‘Brand Goals Breakdown’, where Paul hands the reins over to Verity Hurd, Duel’s Brand and Community Lead. Verity dives into the four pillars that have propelled e.l.f. to the pinnacle of the beauty loyalty game – with nearly 4 million members, and counting. 

Discover how the program has become the gold standard for community-driven loyalty, and gain invaluable insights into the art of forging meaningful connections with your customers. Learn exactly how e.l.f. clinched the coveted title of the fourth-largest mass beauty company in the US, all while setting a benchmark for community-loyalty strategies the entire industry can learn from and emulate.

Building Brand Advocacy 044: Unlocking the Secrets of e.l.f.’s ‘Beauty Squad’: The Power of Community Loyalty ft. Verity Hurd

Paul: Hello, I'm Paul Archer and I'm normally your host here on Building Brand Advocacy. But today we've got a special guest. Now Verity is going to be joining us. Verity is the brand advocacy and community lead here at Jewel. And she is going to be launching a new series that we're doing, um, called Brand Breakdowns. This is where we take the world's most influential brands and we break down how they've achieved their biggest goals, particularly with the slant of their social following, their advocacy and their social commerce. Um, but now.

Verity is the absolute guru in this stuff and she's so passionate about it. She's by far and away the best person to go into this. So without further ado, I please introduce Verity and her breakdown of the incredible brand Elf.

Verity: Hi Paul, yeah, I am thrilled to be on the podcast today. Now this episode is about a topic that I feel incredibly passionate about and I will keep advocating for it. I will keep talking about it. And if you ever wanted to ask me questions, I will keep giving examples of how brands get it right and wrong sometimes, but what I'm talking about today is about how putting your community first is the way to build brands in 2023 and beyond. And today I'm focusing on a brand that has got it right in so many ways. So I'm going to dive into the incredible success story of Elf Cosmetics and their innovative approach to winning the beauty rewards game through their Beauty Squad loyalty program.

So I'm going to keep it really short but hopefully some really impactful stuff to take away for any brand as I'm gonna explore how ELF turned the beauty industry upside down and became the fourth largest mass beauty company in the US which they actually claimed Revlon's title there. So I'm gonna uncover some of the key elements that make their loyalty programme a standout success. So just to set the scene a little bit, over the last 19 years, ELF has transformed from a disruptor to a leader in the beauty industry.

So from what I've witnessed and probably many others with this brand is that it is all powered by innovation and community engagement. And central to this is the Elf Beauty Squad. So this is a remarkable beauty rewards program and it's a testament to the power of community driven loyalty. So the Elf Beauty Squad offers something special to every Elf fan. And there are nearly 4 million fans in this squad that are already incentivised and rewarded. Now this demonstrates the programme's popularity. That number is huge. And to just add to that, these loyalty members drive nearly 80% of ELF sales through their owned e-comm channels and they have higher average order values, they shop more frequently, and they stay with the brand longer than non-loyalty members. Now that is just their big, big numbers and just shows how impactful all of this is.

So why do I think ELF have nailed this? So loyalty is really hard to get right and we see so many brands doing it wrong because as I've talked about before, brands are lazy when it comes to this. But ELF have four pillars that underpin this success. So the first involves providing out of the box benefits and they go above and beyond value. So they offer exclusive perks like early access to tutorials, trying products before they launch and access to personal beauty advisors. Now these extras provide extraordinary value and that is what fosters the trust and connection. And then Elf take their second pillar really seriously. And again, this is something that I will talk about for days if I'm allowed, but they actively listen to their customers. They log feedback, but more importantly, they act accordingly.

And this goes beyond reviews and surveys. It's about direct customer service interactions. So by addressing their members' concerns and observation, they manage to turn potential criticisms into actual opportunities for building brand loyalty, which is incredible. The third pillar puts the person in personalization. So, Elf uses first-party data and predictive models to understand their customers. So this ensures that they take personalization to the next level. Now every customer receives marketing collateral that is tailored to their interests. So this really does make their customers feel special without overwhelming them with irrelevant content. And as you and I know, Paul, there is a ton of irrelevant content out there. And then the final element, they make it easy for ongoing engagement. So...

by providing another remarkable experience for their members, they solidify the brand trust each of these pillars has built. And a joyful experience, a joyful user experience can be the difference between a one-time customer and a lifetime brand advocate, and Elf knows it and they deliver on that. So some of the key takeaways that I would say you can build into your brand DNA. So the first thing is elevate the experience of your most loyal customers. Now you need to give them unique access to exceptional rewards. You need to forge that ambassadorial connection. You need to embrace the feedback, all of it. So encourage your brand fans to share candid thoughts, both praise and criticism, and actively act on those actionable insights. Now that is what's gonna deepen your connection with them, and more importantly, help you continuously grow in the right direction. And then you need to...

understand your audience. So, you know, you can't use a community to help you grow your brand if you don't understand them and know what they want. So you need to know your community and then delight them. And when you know them, you can then start to craft personalized, value-rich offerings that really resonate with their preferences then you need to formalize your loyalty framework for consistency when it comes to motivation and incentivization of your community across the board.

And there you have it. So like I said, really short and sweet, but hopefully some really good learnings there. So by placing community and loyalty at the forefront in a world where customer loyalty is paramount, Elf has set a high bar for creating lasting connections with its friends.

Paul: Thanks, Verity, that was awesome.

I hope you now know all the ins and outs of building a brand like Elf. We will link all the various different socials so you can connect with Verity and also understand some more in the show notes and you please stay tuned for some more brand breakdowns to come.

That was another episode of Building Brand Advocacy, the world's top brand building podcast. To find out more about building brand advocacy and how this podcast is part of a bigger plan for our brand building cookbook, then make sure to search for building brand advocacy in Apple podcasts, Spotify and Google podcasts, or anywhere else that podcasts are fine. And make sure that you click subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. Thanks to Duel for sponsoring. To find out more, go to That's D-U-E-L dot T-E-C-H.

And on behalf of the team here at Building Brand Advocacy, thanks for listening.